Plot: What’s it about?
Behind what seems to be a legitimate fashion house is a lot of illegal actions, which means the people involved are not on the good side of the law. The gorgeous models are fun to look at, but why just look when for a small stack of cash, you can do whatever you’d like to them? Yes, the girls are more than models and in addition to the prostitution present, there is also a lot of drugs, blackmail, and on the whole, the place is as shady as it gets. It might be filled with beautiful women, but much like some of the girls, this fashion house is very dirty on the inside. But when someone ends up murdered, it seems as though the place has hit a new low, especially when more bodies start to surface. The killer is unknown, but whoever it is, they wear all black clothing and sport a razor sharp claw on one hand, used to slash their victims to death. A potential suspect is one of the model’s boyfriends, who works a drug dealer and such, but the evidence is not enough to know for sure. Is this man the one behind the deaths, or he is the victim of a scheme to leave him with the blame, while the true killer remains on the streets?
This one has all the elements, with babes, blood, and a cool murderer, as well as the superb direction of Mario Bava. Add in some cool stuff like cocaine, blackmail, and a series of sexual favors and man, this one really scores on the horror scale, at least I think so. I admit the storyline is a little to simple, but come on, this is a horror movie and as such, some slack must be given there. Some gruesome murders, good looking ladies, and a stunning visual style all ensure the lack of storyline is well hidden, which is more than enough for me. Not all genres can manage that trick, but in the realm of horror flicks, this is almost second nature. I wouldn’t put much praise behind the performances either, but again, due to the nature of the film, that is overlookable in the end. This disc is a mixed bag of sorts, but fans of the genre and Bava will want to give this disc a spin. This title can also be found within VCI’s Mario Bava Box Set (along with The Whip and The Body & Kill, Baby…Kill) as well as alone, so if you’re a Bava fanatic, you’ll want to pick up the triple pack.
I like a lot of Italian horror movies, so of course, Mario Bava is a name I am used to reading in the credits. But Bava is not that well known outside of horror circles, which is a shame, as his innovative direction is superb and worth a look, even to those outside the genre. I suppose the blood and sex might scare off some folks, but in truth, I think even horror haters could learn from watching Bava’s picture. Like many other Italian horror directors, Bava used stunning visuals to draw in his audience and create good atmosphere, which served his films very well. Bava’s work is of course important to horror mavens, but I think anyone who likes excellent direction would be well served to check out his resume of films. Other films directed by Bava include Black Sunday, Rabid Dogs, Shock, Four Times That Night, Planet of the Vampires, Black Sabbath, and The Girl Who Knew Too Much. The cast here includes Cameron Mitchell (The Offspring, The Klansman), Mary Arden (Master Stroke, The Missing Corpse), and Eva Bartok (The Last Waltz, Spaceways).
Video: How does it look?
Blood and Black Lace is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This is the finest presentation I’ve seen for this film on home video and despite some flaws, I think fans will be most pleased here. The print used looks very clean and shows minimal debris or damage, which is a treat to be sure. The colors look good here, not too bright, but solid and flesh tones seem natural as well. I saw no errors with the contrast, as detail is high and black levels appear well balanced at all times. I do wish this was anamorphic, but even as it stands, this is an above average visual treatment.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc contains your choice of language tracks in English, Italian, and French and whichever you choose, I think you’ll be satisfied. Of course, the Italian track is the one most preferred in this case, but I can understand why some folks would choose the English, so I am glad both were included here. There isn’t a lot of dynamic audio present, as the tracks are not full surround options, but as far as these front based mixes go, this is a decent one. The music sounds better than ever, though still not that full, but I am still happy nonetheless. No issues with sound effects or dialogue either, all the mixes seem stable and solid, if unmemorable in the end. This disc also contains subtitles in English and Spanish, in case you’ll need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This one has a wealth of bonus materials, including an audio commentary track with Tim Lucas. I think this track is a decent one, but Lucas (a Bava expert) seems to wander off the path too much and his voice, well, he is as interesting to listen to as nails on a chalkboard. But he supplies some good information at times, so fans won’t want to pass this one up, even if it is very dull, thanks to Lucas and his monotone patterns. You can also view three different trailers for this film, as well as other Bava titles, which is a nice inclusion. Alternate title sequences in English and French are also found here, which are nice to take a look at, if for reference sake at least. A selection of still photos, talent files, and interviews with performers Cameron Mitchell and Mary Arden also surface in this release. The final supplement is an arrangement of soundtrack pieces, which can be listened to as a group, or on their own. A very nice series of supplements if you ask me, very cool indeed.