Blood and Black Lace
Blood and Black Lace
1964. Directed my Mario Bava.
The Definitive Giallo.
There are many great horror films. There are few masterpieces. Even still, there is a select group of films that define the genre, and many of these are lost on current audiences. We are in the midst of a horror renaissance, with some absolutely groundbreaking films being offered to the masses, but most of them pale in comparison to Bava's Giallo masterpiece.
A model is murdered outside her house, a palace for various women who are up and coming in Italy's fashion movement. The aftermath exposes a culture of abuse, secrets, and sexual indiscretions. A faceless killer prowls the grounds, hunting each starlet without remorse, employing some extremely unique and memorable methods of murder.
Bava's third film, this was the first time he had complete creative control and it shows. A simple plot, Bava chose to focus on the acts of violence rather than plot. Each murder scene is a story unto itself, with the camera, using Ubaldo Terzano's genius, to full extent. It's a relentlessly violent, but utterly unique experience. Sex and blood are on full display on this film, themes that would inspire not only the Giallo genre, but horror films for decades to come. Bava abandoned conventional horror themes, such as empathy for the victims, and chose to focus solely on the kill itself. This idea has been hopelessly attempted by endless horror films with little success and virtually no replication. It's simple a one of kind film.
Arrigo Breschi's set designs are fabulous. Every murder scene is a work of art, puntuacted by neon tableaus and mannequin filled galleries. Tina Grani's costumes are a wonderful compliment, balancing the skin on display theme with the ultra violent counterpoint with glitzy ease.
Blood and Black Lace is a seminal work because Bava made an unconventional horror film. There are no elements of the supernatural at work, only the dark hearts of men. It's a simple story that gains depth and verisimilitude because of it's bare bones matter of fact approach to the violence on display. The nihilistic finale only strengthens this concept by ending the faux-mystery with deadpan delivery.
Resurrected in HD glory by Arrow Video, Blood and Black Lace is a foundation film for horror buffs. When you watch it, you'll be constantly reminded of scenes from other films, ultimately recognizing Bava's handy work at play in the modern field of slasher flicks. For a grassroots, bottom level primer in horror done right, don't miss this one!