on March 26, 2004
Undoubtedly one of Mario Bava's finest films, that in itself saying a great deal, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is a skillfully directed, stunningly photographed murder mystery well served by this VCI DVD release.
First the good stuff: This DVD restores footage from the original European release, including the original credit sequence, never before seen in North America, and features a wealth of extras, including interviews with stars Cameron Mitchell and Mary (Dawne) Arden, a selection of international trailers and an information packed commentary track by film scholar and Bava expert Tim Lucas. The video quality is excellent, though not faultless, and presented in a widescreen 1.66:1 aspect ratio, allowing the viewer the opportunity to appreciate Bava's visual canvas in a way not possible with previous video releases.
The not so good stuff: As much of a revelation as this VCI release is, in terms of visual quality, the limited edition PAL German DVD of BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (BLUTIGE SEIDE) is undoubtedly the hands down winner. The colours are even more vibrant and the film is presented in the full, correct, aspect ratio of 1.85:1. If you have PAL DVD capabilities, you might want to look at that release, but otherwise, the VCI edition is still an excellent purchase.
The biggest problem with this DVD is that there are at least three, different releases of this disc, some of which have very serious problems.
I can not personally verify the problems with the original release, which reportedly would not play in some DVD players including some makes of Philips/Magnavox and Pioneer players. I believe that this version has the front cover BLOOD AND BLACK LACE logo in yellow with red stripes, whereas the subsequent releases have the logo in red.
The second release features a 2001 copyright on the package design. At least some of the discs in this release feature another major fault preventing any of the bonus materials from playing. The film itself plays fine, but trying to access the bonus materials results in a black screen and jerking, broken sound. I have had personal experience with this problem and have found online reports of others encountering it.
In a third release, with a slightly different package and a 2002 copyright, all materials on the disc play faultlessly. It looks like VCI finally worked out all the bugs. This is the one to have.
All in all, a great film in an excellent, if not perfect DVD release.
Some women want to strangle models, but most people don't actually go that far. That's not the case in "Blood and Black Lace," where models run, scream, and die in all sorts of gruesome ways. Mario Bava's classic giallo has some monotonous moments, but mostly it sticks to stylish slayings.
Just before a fashion show, the model Isabella is found dead in a wardrobe. The police investigate the fashion house's various models and managers, but can't find any solid evidence. And during the show, one of the other models finds Isabella's diary, which is loaded with scandalous information about drugs, lovers, abortions, and debts.
But then the diary is stolen, and trenchcoated killer waits until the models are alone -- and then he burns, strangles, drowns, and claws them. The police suspect the men -- designers and managers -- at the fashion house, but even detaining the suspects won't stop the gruesome murders...
At first glance, "Blood and Black Lace" seems like just another bloody slasher movie. Well, giallo is to slasher movies as fine cheese is to Velveeta, and "Blood and Black Lace" is a perfect example of a giallo, with the arty lighting, graphic violence, colourful sets, and of course those black gloved hands.
The plot is a pretty straightforward whodunnit -- it's not blatantly obvious who the killer is, but seasoned movie fans can probably guess. And while there are gruesome slayings, the killer doesn't just jump out and kill. Bava builds up the tension and fear (which the characters also demonstrate) until it's almost a relief when someone dies.
But one of the biggest necessities for a giallo is visual style. The fashion house is lushly palatial, and the murders are elaborately choreographed chases, with weird lighting and lots of luxurious surroundings. The second murder, for instant, is like hide-and-seek in an antiques store. The only problem is a misogynistic edge, such as when the women have their shirts ripped halfway off.
None of the characters really stand out much -- they're the Models, the Creepy Boyfriends, the Skeptical Police, the Weird Landlady, and a handful of others. So it's a credit to the actresses like Mary Arden and Eva Bartok that they are able to make us feel sorry for their characters.
"Blood and Black Lace" is a beautiful, bloody guilty pleasure, and a perfect example of a giallo horror movie. Good stuff.
on May 12, 2004
If you are looking for a breathtakingly beautiful use of color and lighting, YOU MUST SEE "BLOOD AND BLACL LACE". This has to be one of the great overlooked movies of all time. Great Jazz score.
What happened to the mentality that could both make and go see this kind of movie? After watching this one, and looking over the current cinema listings in the local paper, I nearly cried at the lack of anything like this to see.
The rich jewel tones that flood every frame in this film are amazing. Eastmancolor must be one of the most underrated processes in film history. Notice how shocking the white undergarments of the models seem after the killer rips their bodices away.
A great movie in which nearly the whole cast lies dead at the end. Eva Bartok is amazingly beautiful, why didn't she become more of an international star?
A great looking murder mystery that clearly laid the groundwork for later directors
(DePalma in particular), and has a fun macabre sense of humor to go with some
very effective tension.
Considered a masterpiece by many, I can't quite go there, with the bad dubbing,
some over the top acting, and a few silly twists. But that's not to say I didn't really enjoy it.
Someone is killing models at a high fashion house, and there are plenty
of suspects to go around.
Bava's use of color is wonderful, if not quite up to what he did in his own
`Whip and the Body', and there's also very effective use of shadows and
moving lights. Yes, many of those devices are now visual clichés, but
someone had to invent them, and Bava gets a lot of the credit.
on January 21, 2004
Mario Bava, the founding father of Italian horror (see my BLACK SUNDAY/THE MASK OF SATAN review), was a real trendsetter with his innovative camera tricks (he was a cameraman as well) and cinematic mastery. Every one of his movies changed the face of horror worldwide. But BLOOD AND BLACK LACE may just well be the most influential and ground-breaking movie in his distinguished career!
A fashion house in Italy becomes a slaughterhouse when the diary of one of the models is discovered. It seems that there is some unsavory material within the diary concerning the models. Everyone is after the diary, and in fact somebody even goes as far as to bump off a few people for the diary. Who will survive?
See folks, this is where the Italian giallo, the career of Dario Argento (my favorite Italian horror director), and the slasher film began. When I saw BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, I gained a new understanding of Italian horror and how cool it is. It's all right here: wild camera moves (achieved on a red wagon!), lighting in different colors (echoing EC Comics long before George Romero gave it a shot in CREEPSHOW and even before the first TALES FROM THE CRYPT movie in 1972), gorgeous but ill-fated women, psychosexually motivated mayhem, and of course truly awesome murder sequences! Yes indeed, we can all thank Mario Bava for the state of Italian horror in its heyday and for all those slasher movies that have come out recently because Mario Bava singlehandedly shaped the state of modern, non-Gothic/supernatural horror in just 90 minutes of murder and mayhem!
VCI's DVD is a testament to this movie's significance in horror history. The audio commentary by Bava expert Tim Lucas provides a treasure trove of trivia for Bava buffs and Italian horror fans alike! Best of all, the presentation is uncut and in widescreen, complete with the original opening title sequence (which was truly awesome and evocative) and restored murder sequences which are as cringe-worthy as anything Tom Savini could come up with! We have the American title sequence (courtesy of Filmation Studios, the animators of Fat Albert and He-Man) and French title sequence, and much, much more! A truly ground-breaking horror film, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is a definite must-watch!
on October 11, 2002
Many have said this movie is misogynistic. I won't get into that. To be fair, I would have to say that it is disturbing to a degree, but also a stylish shocker done by a master film maker that is highly watchable if you're not squeamish. The world of haute couture is a perfect place to present a murder thriller in that it affords the limitless opportunities of playing with color, showcasing beautiful women and providing a host of possible villains...and victims. Bava does all of this in classic continental style. The victims are beautiful fashion models, the murders are violent and ,in some cases, gory. The settings of the salon and showrooms are garish with lots of red and black. The murder set pieces are scary, bizarre and done to the hilt. The storyline has some cohesence with enough sordid details to make it juicy. VCI has done the film marvelous justice on DVD and it looks beautiful. All in all, an engrossing horror film that continues to satisfy Bava and giallo fans and a collector's treat as well. Enjoy this one.
on April 11, 2002
In my opinion, this film is the first giallo. This movie gave birth to what filmakers like Dario Argento & others have popularized in the late 60s & throughout the 70s & 80s as a specific genre of horror film. Bava used the now-familiar use of the gloved & hooded killer killing beautiful women in a variety of sadistic ways. In Argento's films like DEEP RED, TENEBRE, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMMAGE, & his latest one SLEEPLESS (aka NON HO SONNO), one can see the homage or formula that he used to make these films successful & effective. And it can all be traced back to this 1964 film, BLOOD & BLACK LACE (aka SEI DONNE PER L'ASSASSINO).
Bava used lavish sets, deep colors, fluid camera work, & the familiar thin narrative in this movie that is copied later on by Argento, Fulci, & yes, even American directors like Brian De Palma & John Carpenter. The storytelling in this movie is rather weak as to what set off the murders of those lovely models. Instead, this film relies more on STYLE & loads of it. And the rervelation on who the killer is... well, I won't spoil it.
BLOOD & BLACK LACE is an exercise in style & taste. It's like watching a beautifully choreographed ballet of death with brutal intensity & violence.
I would also go so far as to name this film the FIRST TRUE "BODYCOUNT" horror film.
To modern horror film fans, BLOOD & BLACK LACE may not be your cup of tea. But watch it & relish it for it is a feast for your eyes. The mesmerizing beauty of Bava's genius is a sight to behold.
on March 19, 2000
As much as "Blood and Black Lace" has influenced Italian Giallos and slasher films, it is nevertheless one of Bava's more uneven and sometimes even sloppy films. The story itself may seem depressingly derivitive from today's viewers' eyes, but you must remember this film was made over thirty years ago. This is one of the film's assets. The now cliche plot of a madman stocking beautiful women is a springboard for some memorably tense and suspenseful moments. Also, Bava's penchant for moody lighting helps create a bizarre juxtaposition. The film has candy-colored, beautiful lighting set against some of the most gruesome and horrific (and misogynist) murders of the time. One woman's face is repeatedly smashed against the bark of a tree, while another is repeatedly scalded against an iron grill. The murders are horrific, while the look of the film is beautiful and almost youthful, making an uneasy clash of themes. But for all these positive points, the film nevertheless almost falls flat. The acting (and dubbing) is far worse than usual for a Bava film. Couple that with some very pokey pacing, and some downright boring and static scenes, and the impact (and star rating) of the film goes down. Don't get me wrong, the film has a good amount of aspects that make it worth seeing, but the faults of the film can't be ignored, and subsequently slightly diminish the enjoyment of the film.
on January 20, 1999
Crazed killer invades a fashion house in this Italian chiller. Even though some of the dubbing and motivation of the characters is weak, the overall style of the film is excellent. There is enough suspense and jumps without being overly gory, especially by the standards of today. There is a good sense of brutality towards women in this one, however. This one is probably more for the fans of Dario Argento and the Italian genre of slasher flicks, but based on the recent video dreck that comes your way, this is far better. The way the camera floats around the fashion house is one many examples of how director Bava uses his camera to invoke confusion and forshadow the mayhem that is about to erupt. There is a subplot about drugs that goes nowhere and other red herrings, but you should enjoy this endeavor in the horror video market.
on June 26, 2003
Blood and Black Lace is often described as the original 'body count' movie. I'm not really sure how this credential was bestowed, but you can certainly sense an early Friday the 13th aura about the movie. The young models are stalked and dispatched by a hooded maniac, much as you've seen in countless 'slasher' flicks. But it's important to realize that this film was made in 1964, 14 years before John Carpenter would introduce his Halloween to the universe. But, while this movie certainly earns respect for being an innovator in the genre, much of Blood and Black Lace is pretty slow moving. Not scary, but ammusing and very funny. Great Black Comedy.