organization Art Promotion

Twitch of the Death Nerve


Italia – 1971 – 35mm – color – 84’


Direction: Mario Bava

Screenplay: Filippo Ottoni, Joseph McLee (Giuseppe Zaccariello), Mario Bava (based on a script by Dardano Sacchetti, Franco Barberi)

Photography: Mario Bava

Editing: Carlo Reali

Set design: Sergio Canevari

Music: Stelvio Cipriani

Cast: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Volonté, Laura Betti, Leopoldo Trieste

Producers: Giuseppe Zaccariello

Production: Nuova Linea Cinematografica



The murder of Countess Federica Donati, an elderly wheelchair bound woman, activates a whirlwind of killings that have as a background a bay where different characters get around: a pair of lovers, a fisherman, an entomologist, a tarot reader woman, some young people on vacation, a family with two little girls. Deaths, always more cruel, do not seem to have an obvious reason, but actually they conceal sinister economic reasons, since the place is subject to a great property speculation.



Twitch of the Death Nerve is one of the most complex and fascinating Bava’s films since its plot of high intentions and low practices, metaphysical seriousness and playing down irony, formal beauty and Grand Guignol. Every kind of murder (thirteen in total) is at the same time free of charge, in the light of the conventions of a classical narration, and justified by a biological immanent law: the Italian title ‟l’ecologia del crimine (The Ecology of crime)” can be conceived either as a defense mechanism of the nature, which destroys the speculators who want to threaten it, or as a statement of an instinctive law of the strongest. (…) Its moralistic approach is thus combined with a sarcastic streak. The same crazy multiplication of murders (‟chain reaction”) shouldn’t be too seriously considered”. (Alberto Pezzotta, Mario Bava, Il Castoro Cinema, Milano, Marzo-Aprile 1995)