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us title: Five Dolls for an August Moon
italian title: 5 bambole per la luna d'agosto
year: 1970
director: Mario Bava
composer: Piero Umiliani
full details: IMDB
overall score: 58

Bottom Line: Entertaining
Nothing ground breaking here, but a fun time nonetheless.


WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

Mario Bava's Five Dolls for an August Moon is a party Giallo if ever there was one. Among Bava academics Five Dolls is not considered a successful film. I've read a few historical recounts of the production and most of them seem to emphasize that Bava wasn't very excited about it. Perhaps my expectations are too low, but for me Five Dolls is wildly entertaining. 


Using the theme from Agatha Christie Ten Little Indians, Five Dolls is a basic whodunit that revolves around a group wealthy swingers vacationing on a remote island who are killed off one by one in an attempt to secure a formula for a new brand of "industrial resin." The story progresses along efficiently enough with double crosses, back-stabs, and several twists, but viewers who pay too close attention to following the plot are doing themselves a disservice. 


Anyone who has returned to Five Dolls for subsequent viewings knows that the draw is certainly not the story. The film is an absolute feast for the senses with hypnotic camera work, lavishly designed interiors, a gaggle of gorgeous 70s babes, and a super groovy organ jazz soundtrack by Piero Umiliani. 


From a scoring standpoint Five Dolls failed miserably, not even breaking into the 60s. Black gloves are absent (in fact most of the murders are committed off screen), the characters are more concerned with surviving rather than investigating, and the urban Italian landscape is abandoned for the exotic island location.


But does it really matter? Absolutely not. Five Dolls for an August Moon is a film that encourages a few drinks before watching. Check all of your academic Giallo preconceptions at the door and just marvel at the visual tapestry that Bava weaves.


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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 35/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Motivation: Blackmail/Gain5 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 17/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Mistaken Identity2 points
More than one killer or accomplice4 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Signatures : 6/10
Animal, Number, Color, or "Death" in title1 point
Bathtub Murder1 point
Gay/Lesbian1 point
J&B1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Spiral Stairs1 point
Total Points : 58/100



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Published: 2013-04-05