Blood and Black Lace
directed by Mario Bava
starring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner
If you’re going to kill people on screen, its best if they are attractive, young and vulnerable. In this Italian thriller from 1964 we enter the midcentury fashion scene in a day and age where the world cared about your exact shade of mauve or number of folds in a skirt. These were simpler times, but lust and murder know no age. When young Isabella (Francesca Ungaro) dies in the garden of Max Morlacchi (Cameron Mitchell), it’s a minor crisis in the cutting room. She may be the first corpse but not the last; as we proceed a half dozen models bite the tulle, and even tough police inspector Silvester (Thomas Reiner) can’t crack the case. The bodies pile up, the intrigue deepens but when we exit, we have just experienced a fairly standard plot.
What sets this film apart is its look. Director Mario Bava masters dark and shadows and every shot is as lovingly set up as Hitchcock or Kubrick would. The women are gorgeous and the fashions the sort of thing that graced runways and glossies a half century ago, and if you care about the model’s deaths this movie will suck you in. This is one of these high quality Arrow re-issues on Blu-ray and they pack the disc with special features: Commentary tracks, a documentary on Giallo films, a documentary on this film, and a stack of interviews. You’ll get your money’s worth and I suggest viewing it late at night with popcorn and the lights off. And really, turn off the cell and the tablet and become absorbed here; Bava builds his unique world filled with menace and blood and shows a world we can never have again.