Blu-Ray Review – Blood and Black Lace (1964)

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blood and black lace - mario bava

Blood and Black Lace is one of Mario Bava’s most acclaimed and influential films. It’s considered by many to be the first true “Giallo” film even though some of the Giallo genre conventions can go back to his earlier film, The Girl Who Knew Too Much. The film’s influence on the sub-genre of the slasher film is also profound, and is one of the first films of it’s kind with a high body count.

The plot is pretty basic trashy, euro-slasher, thriller fluff; a masked killer stalks and kills some models. He attempts to get his first victim Isabella’s diary but it goes missing after her boyfriend is linked to the murder, so the masked killer murders more to try to find it. Bava’s strong point was never his storytelling skills; he is first and foremost a visual stylist. The film drips and oozes in gorgeous reds, blues and greens from the film’s opening sequence to the it’s gristly climax.

The end result is a dazzling display of expressionist use of colour and shadow, which in the hands of a lesser filmmaker would be fairly standard fluff. It runs at a relentless pace at 88 minutes and never lets up, with more twists and turns than most of M. Night Shyamalan’s films.

The film comes in both dubbed in Italian and English, I watched it in English after testing the Italian, The English dub matched the lip moves of the actors more (most of the film was shot in English) but there are purists who say you should only watch in Italian, even though it’s more distracting with poor matching of the lips.

Arrow’s disc is absolutely loaded to the gills with supplementary material. First up is a commentary by Mario Bava’s biographer Tim Lucas. There is a newly commissioned documentary on the Blood and Black Lace and the origins of the Giallo, with Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani who are behind one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, doing an appreciation. Michael Mackenzie does a visual essay on the sexual politics of the Giallo, that can be dodgy to say the least. There is also an audio of a panel about Bava featuring Dario Argento and Bavas’ son Lamberto, a TV feature on Blood and Black Lace’s star Cameron Mitchell, alternative US opening credits and finally the trailer.

Ian Schultz

Genre: Horror, Slasher, Giallo Distributor: Arrow BD Release Date: 13th April 2015 (UK) Rating:18 Aspect Ratio:1.85:1 Director: Mario Bava  Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner Buy: Blood and Black Lace [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD] [Region A & B]