Blood and Black Lace (1964) | Mario Bava’s sumptuous, spellbinding essay in sexual perversity is simply fabulous in HD

Blood and Black Lace (1964)A fashion house of glamorous models becomes a terror house of blood!
When model Isabella is strangled, she leaves behind a diary containing the dark secrets of her fellow models and colleagues, and evidence that a Rome haute couture salon, owned by Contessa Cristina Como (Eva Bartok) and her lover Max (Cameron Mitchell), is a front for drug smuggling and blackmail. When the diary disappears, a masked killer begins picking off the models in brutal fashion. But is the fiend really only after the diary, or is it ‘mere female beauty’ that’s making him kill and kill again?

Guaranteed! The 8 greatest shocks ever filmed!
Having established a template for the Italian thriller (giallo) genre with 1963’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much, visionary director Mario Bava introduced a box of new cinematic tricks (including colour) for his highly-stylised Blood and Black Lace in 1964. Excessive, eccentric, experimental and elaborate in its cinematic style and language, this Grand Guignol murder mystery is one of cinema’s most influential offerings, and a real showcase for Bava’s inventive visual trickery.

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It’s hard to imagine today, but this glamorous shocker, originally titled Sei Donne per l’Assassino (Six Women for the Murderer), wasn’t that well received on its original release. But its cult status flourished and is now regarded as the foremost example of 1960s Italian horror cinema and a landmark film that spearheaded the giallo genre. Without it, Dario Argento’s psycho-thrillers most certainly would never have happened, nor the giallo-fused psychedelia of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears) and their ilk.

But Bava’s beautifully photographed, ahead-of-its-time, gore murder thriller is also genuinely disturbing; ‘confronting us with a sado-voyeuristic delirium that simultaneously fascinates and repels’.* In his faceless mask, the killer carries out his sadistic attacks in a most violent fashion: misogynistic it most certainly is. But in the haunted world of Mario Bava, violence, eroticism and horror is always carried out with impeccable taste and a dark sensuality that’s hard to resist. And with Blood and Black Lace, you also get a swinging bossa nova soundtrack and a sumptuous setting (the real life Vialla Sciarra park in Rome) to entice you back, again and again…

Blood and Black Lace (1964)THE ARROW VIDEO RELEASE
Blood and Black Lace has been exclusively restored in 2k resolution for Arrow Films with the participation of Bava biographer Tim Lucas, and features audio restoration on both Italian and English tracks, but keeps some of the loose audio synch (owing to it being recorded in post-production – hence why the legendary Paul Frees gets to dub pratically all of the male characters) as per the original theatrical release.

Arrow has certainly done itself proud with this HD release, which is presented in dual format (Blu-ray/DVD), as well as in a limited edition SteelBook (Arrow Store exclusive), and features new artwork by Graham Humphreys. Just look at what else you get for your buck?

THE EXTRAS
• Tim Lucas audio commentary (fascinating and informative, as you’d expect).
Psycho Analysis: Documentary featuring interviews with Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi and crime novelist Carlo Lucarelli.
• Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani discuss their love of the genre (love these guys).
Yellow (2013): Writer/director Ryan Haysom’s loving-crafted 2013 crowd-funded cine-experimental short about an old man on the hunt for a vicious serial killer in neon-lit Berlin.
• Trailer: This restored trailer revels in the film’s graphic violence and eroticism.
Gender and Giallo: Michael Mackenzie’s visual essay on giallo’s relationship with social upheavals in the 1960s and 1970s.
Blood and Bava: 2014 Courmayeur Noir Film Festival panel discussion with Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava and Steve Della Casa.
The Sinister Image: David Del Valle’s two-part 1986 interview with Cameron Mitchell, in its entirety.
• US Opening: Excellent, evocative mannequin filled alternate Filmation credit sequence sourced from Joe Dante’s private print of the film. In HD.
• The collector’s booklet contains articles on the film’s cinematic artistry and the actors playing the murder suspects (including George Clooney’s uncle and Italy’s Peter Lorre), one on Joe Dante reflecting on Bava’s work and an interview with Cameron Mitchell, plus a review on the 2013 short, Yellow, and notes on the restoration.

* Phil Hardy. Encyclopedia of Horror Movies
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About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 16, 2015, in Cult classic, Horror, Must See, Must See, Must-See, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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