After all, it's just a ride….

Blood & Black Lace (1964) Capsule Review

blood4One of the least known yet most influential horror movies ever made arrives on a ravishing 2K HD transfer this week, Mario Bava’s eerily instrumental Blood & Black Lace. Horror trends tend to move in waves like a swarm of voracious piranha, and previous to the arrival of the giallo the genre was dominated by the gothic mist-choked uncanny, the pulse-pounding purview of Hammer and Amicus, with their iconic takes on the famous monster of filmland and chill inducing periodicals. Blood & Black Lace prefigured a seductive yet startling trend of gruesome kills and amniotic atmosphere for an evolving audience who demanded more visceral material, which the Italian maestro of the grotesque delivering with his trademark blend of vivid mystery, prowling camerawork and oscillating color palettes. Set in a baroque  Haute Couture fashion house an entire paddock of beautiful models are at risk from a faceless homicidal maniac, a merciless killer who may be one of the members of their insular world, the organization itself a poisonous nest of blackmail and infidelity which may have prompted a murderous motive for vengeance;

The original Italian title  Sei donne per l’assassino  translates as ‘Six Women for the Murderer’ which tells you all you need to know for the films sextant structure. Here much of the giallo iconography and infrastructure is bloodily impaled in cinema consciousness, from the hallucinatory lighting schemes to the woozy delirium gibbering scores, from the trench coat and glove garbed maniac who stalk and slash their prey through to the deliciously constructed set-pieces of oozing dread that explode in orgiastic violence. Many of the Hammer films had a definitive visual design and delivery but Bava took the horror film to a higher plateau with this film, elevating the psychological delirium of the characters as physically imposed in the screen canvas, reaching back to the expressionistic instinct of the horror film and injecting that vision with a syringe of polychromatic pop-art kl. Like the best giallo it’s best to retire any concerns you may have with a coherent or logical plot, or of human beings acting in identifiable and accurate ways at the door, and simply luxuriate in the pungent atmosphere of the film. The saturated visuals weave a gruesome dance of death, the operatic orchestration of the slayings giving birth to the slasher movie as we know it which would go to dominate the industry via Halloween, Friday The 13th and the other ill-dated ilk;

It’s a wonderful, sizzling transfer culled from a 2K interpositive scan of the original camera negative, given a scrub and the framing stability treatment, easily an early contender for the creepy connoisseurs Blu-Ray release of the year. Alongside the feature there is a pantheon of extras and documentaries (3.5 hours worth) conceptualizing the giallo genre and this specific films bloody genesis, alongside Bava biographer Tim Lucas’s  definitive film commentary – he of course is the cinephile responsible for this majestic tome. 1,100 pages of densely researched text sounds simply to die for……


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