Blood And Black Lace (Italy 1965)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 9/12/22
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok

A model that works at the Christian Haute Couture fashion house is brutally murdered by a masked killer, but she's only the first. Sex, drugs, blackmail, dirty secrets, and an incriminating diary give everyone a reason to kill, while the persistent, but ineffective police are always one step behind.

It's an excellent example of the giallo genre and does a wonderful job of blending horror and erotica. While the tagline guarantees "the eight greatest shocks ever filmed," it's all rather tame by modern standards. Or even the standards of the gritty 70's for that matter. The acting and stunt work are quite good, and all of the women deliver strong and physically demanding performances. Mario Bava's use of light and color is superb, which creates an exaggerated and surreal environment full of tension and dread. Paranoia and shifty glances make everyone a suspect, and the plot kept me guessing the entire time. And much to my delight, the villain gets what's coming to them. There are many noteworthy scenes in the film, but the most masterful one may be when the villain's mask is ripped off and his face is clearly revealed for exactly one frame. It's not possible to make a positive ID when you're watching the film at normal speed, but it's enough to really tease your brain.

The original Italian title literally translates to "six women for the killer," which is dull, but totally accurate. The American "Blood And Black Lace" title is more evocative, even if it doesn't really match anything in the film. As an international co-production, the actors performed in English and were later dubbed by American actors. However, the English dubbing is pretty weak and the Italian soundtrack is much better, even though the mouths don't match the words. The American release also replaced Bava's fantastic opening title sequence with a super tacky montage of mannequins and skulls, which doesn't make any sense at all. The original title sequence is incredible and arguably the most compelling and unsettling scene in the entire film, so seek that one out if you can. Definitely a "must-see" for fans of the genre.