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Operazione Paura

AKA's: Curse Of The Dead / Curse Of The Living Dead / Don't Walk In The Park / Dr. Dracula - Eine Bestie Schlägt Zu / Kill, Baby, Kill! / Mata, Bebe, Mata / Operation Fear / Operation Peur / Toten Augen Des Dr. Dracula, Die / Toten Augen, Die

Release date: 1966 Italy
Running time: 80' (cover 80'/Italy 85') - Source: DVD (RC 2/PAL)
Rating: Germ.: 16; UK: 15; US: PG
Main Crew: Director: Mario Bava (I Tre Volti Della Paura 1963; I Vampiri 1956)
Producer: FUL Films
Score: Carlo Rustichelli
Writer: Roberto Natale / Romano Migliorini / Mario Bava
Director of photography: Antonio Rinaldi / Mario Bava


Summary: Dr. Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) is called by Inspector Kruger (Pierro Lulli) to a small village paralyzed by fear, to perform an autopsy on a woman who has died under suspicious circumstances. When he finds a coin embedded in the victim's heart, shameful local secrets are unearthed. The ghost of Melissa Graps, a child callously run over and left to die during a drunken festival twenty years before, is said to be causing the victims to destroy themselves. Despite help from Ruth (Fabienne Dali), the village witch, Kruger is killed, and Dr. Eswai, along with Monica (Erika Blanc), a local nurse, are lured into a fateful confrontation at the Villa Graps.
Note: - From the title of Mario Bava's second "giallo" (literally: yellow - a term used for this genre because of the vibrant yellow covers Mondadori produced beginning in the 1920s) one might expect a slasher film or a serial killer movie, but "Operazione Paura" is actually a gothic ghost story set in a remote European turn-of-the-century village.
- The film was titled "Operazione Paura" (Operation Fear) in an attempt to market the film as a relation to the "Operation..." spy films featuring "Operazione Paura" 's star Erika Blanc. The German release title ("Die Toten Augen Des Dr. Dracula" - translates to "The Dead Eyes Of Dr. Dracula") is misleading, as there are no vampires nor Count Dracula in the movie. In trying to connect the movie somehow to vampirism, the German dub has the Baroness Graps mentioning Count Dracula's influence as the source of her deeds.
- This movie left a big impression on several other directors: Luchino Visconti gave the film a standing ovation at its Italian premiere, and Martin Scorsese has admitted that this movie was an inspiration for one sequence in his "The Last Temptation Of Christ", it influenced Federico Fellini's "Toby Dammit" sequence in the anthology film "Spirits Of The Dead" and David Lynch in "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me".
- The little girl, Melissa, was actually played by a boy wearing a wig.

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