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Blood and Black Lace

2 Ratings: 4.5
A 1964 horror film directed by Mario Bava

The American distributors reshot the opening credit sequence.      For tracking shots Bava mounted the camera on a child's wagon.      The film that inspired the Giallo genre.

Director: Mario Bava
Genre: Horror
Release Date: March 14, 1964
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Blood and Black Lace

Beauty in blood.

  • Jul 16, 2011
**** out of ****

From the moment "Blood and Black Lace" begun, I knew I was watching a special kind of Giallo horror movie, which is particularly good, because I love a good Giallo once in a while. But great Giallo horror movies are not common; so that's why this movie, among others, is so oddly exquisite. I liked its approach to its thematic material; and it was actually scary. So it's a true entry to its genre, complete with rich atmosphere and a very nice story as well. Horror movies used to be so driven by narrative. What happened to them? Perhaps they died a little bit after "Blood and Black Lace"; which came out in the days of "Pyscho" and "Bloody Sunday". Funny I mention the second film, because it was also directed by Mario Bava.

Now, in my review for "Bloody Sunday", I claimed that it was essentially the best film that Bava ever made. I retract those words. While I liked "Bloody Sunday" a lot and found it an atmospheric work of art, this is a film that is so much better; in so many ways. I don't know why; but "Blood and Black Lace" just strikes me as something genuinely awesome, maybe because it kind of is.

The story is pretty simple, and sticks to being fairly basic throughout. So let's get down to it; and have fun with it. The film involves the murder of a fashion model, which leads to a thorough investigation of the crime. The victim apparently had a diary which contained information that the killer might want to get rid of, although other models get involved and begin to get killed off one-by-one by the psychopath, perhaps because the killer believes they might know something, and he/she can't have that.

Yeah, this film is essentially the story of a body-count. But at least it's a classic body-count. Before mindless bull-shit like "Friday the 13th" plagued screens in the 80's, we had fine pieces of work like this. While there are many brutal, sadistic killings; what I like most about "Blood and Black Lace" is that it doesn't exploit itself too much, leaving room for tension and atmosphere. The film pays a lot of attention to colors and cinematography for its creepy, coming-up-behind-you feeling. I liked the rush that it gave me, and it felt alive.

But it is also well-acted, and superbly directed by Bava, who might as well be one of the major stars of the film himself. He put this thing together; he is responsible for its success. He also co-wrote the script, and it's a pretty good one. I mean, there are no doubt BETTER scripts; but who gives a damn? "Blood and Black Lace" is a masterpiece of the Italian Giallo horror-thriller; a mad, erotic work of high cinematic art. It stands as more than a classic; but also just a damn great movie in general.

In films where serial killers brutally kill off women, the act is almost always interpreted as the work of a misogynistic filmmaker, but not this time. There's enough flare and substance to "Blood and Black Lace" to allow it to NOT be tame, but still NOT exploitative. It's not misogynistic, which is good. And it's not a pain in the ass to watch either. It is violent, but also smart and highly entertaining as long as you can look past the content and move on to the substance. Can everyone do this? I don't think so. But if you can, then you've earned my respect.

I guess this film was not made for everyone, but I believe that anyone who calls themselves a horror fan should give it a go. Some horror fans might even dislike it; who knows. All I know is that I found it rather fascinating, in a gory, Giallo sort of way. It is like a wondrous orgy of corpses; a celebration of the mad and macabre realms of horror, when they still truly existed. Nowadays, horror has been reduced to something less than it was probably ever intended to be. There are horror films out right now, new ones, which are even more violent than "Blood and Black Lace"; yet this is still the better film. And if you've been reading this review all along, then you should know why that is.

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July 21, 2011
Not a month ago, a dear friend suggested this, the seminal paragon of giallo, in double-bill pair with Eyes of Laura Mars. I'm almost ashamed that I haven't seen this yet, nor more than a half-dozen of Bava's other features. You've my thanks for this exuberant reminder!
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