BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964)
Pssst... Fancy a bit of giallo? Course you do. What was that? Oh, right... Well a giallo is one of those stylish Italian thrillers that started in the ‘60s and have proved highly influential on the modern slasher-flick. OK, let us put it another way. Fancy seeing a film about a fashion house full of impossibly glamorous Italian models being picked off one-by-one by a masked killer in retina-burning Technicolor? Oh, now you’re interested...
Blood and Black Lace is an early (though not the first) giallo and it’s brought to you by the masterful Mario Bava. It’s set around the aforementioned fashion house and while the story has some admirable twists, it’s still fairly perfunctory stuff. But who watches a giallo for the plot? OK, some might, but this is a movie whose original poster boasted “Guaranteed! The 8 greatest shocks ever filmed!” We actually gave up counting on that front but as nothing burst out of anyone’s chest and a half-buried Statue of Liberty does not make a late appearance to reveal where they really are, we think it fair to say that might be a slight exaggeration. Mind you, it’s still pretty brutal and it’d be fair to say that it was probably fairly shocking at the time. The suspense is brilliantly handled and the killings are surprisingly wince-inducing for the mid-‘60s.
But arguably the real strength of the movie is just the look of the damn thing. While some of Bava’s shot composition is extraordinary, the use of colour is nothing short of astonishing. Right from the restored original (and brilliantly camp) opening credits, Bava unleashes an assault on our visual senses. You’re left wondering why all movies don’t look like this until you realise we’d all have some terrible movie-induced headache if they did. If you want to get all film studies about it we can assure you that the colours all have some meaning to convey (never wear the same black dress the recently murdered model was supposed to wear) but to be honest, it’s just the sheer brilliance of those reds and greens that captivate. And there we were thinking monochrome was the only way to do moody . We don’t normally bang on about the quality of the Blu-ray transfer too much but this is a new 2K restoration from the original negative and we very much doubt it has been seen like this its original theatrical release. It has to be seen to be believed.
So it’s a visually stunning ground-breaking thriller that’s been brilliantly restored and presented in the most flattering of ways. What do you people want? Eva Bartok?
Oh, and it has Eva Bartok in it. Of course it does.
Extras: Five documentaries, commentary by Tim Lucas, alternate credit sequence, trailer, short film, booklet, subtitle or English soundtrack options.
INFO: CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MARIO BAVA / SCREENPLAY: MARCELLO FONDATO / STARRING: CAMERON MITCHELL, EVA BARTOK, THOMAS, REINER, ARIANA GORINI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW