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Blood And Black Lace (1964)

DVD Cover (VCI Home Video Reissue)
Genres:
Erotic Thriller, Giallo, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Director:
Mario Bava Mario Bava
Starring:
Cameron Mitchell Cameron Mitchell
Eva Bartok Eva Bartok
Thomas Reiner Thomas Reiner
Arianna Gorini Arianna Gorini
Dante DiPaolo Dante DiPaolo

7.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Isabella, a young model is murdered by a mysterious masked figure at a boarding house run by Max Morlan and his lover Countess Christina Como. When Isabella's boyfriend is suspected of the killing, her diary, which apparently has some incriminating evidence linking her to the killer, disappears, the masked killer begins killing off all the models in and around the house to find the diary. --IMDb
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Review by Christopher
Added: February 03, 2005
A fashion house model, Isabelle, is on her way to work when she's mauled by a masked killer. After being strangled to death, the lady that helps run the fashion house, Cristina, begins questioning her were abouts. After chatting with the man in charge about it, Max, she begins to yell at one of the models for leaving her dress lying around. When Cristina goes to one of the clothes cabinets to put away the dress, she finds Isabelle's corpse stuffed in with all of the clothes. The police come and investigate but find out little to nothing. Later that evening while the house is holding a fashion show, someone is to wear Isabelle's dress. Everyone denies the honor saying that it will bring bad luck.

Nicole, another fashion model, sees no harm in it and throws it on. There ends up being a piece missing. While they are looking for it, Nicole comes across Isabelle's diary. While everyone tries to read it, Cristina puts a stop to it and sends them back to work. Nicole decides it's best that she brings it to the police since she is the one that found it. Cristina agrees and the women go back to work. After Nicole's isle run, she calls her boyfriend Franco to tell him that she found Isabelle's diary. He informs her that he's sick and needs her to come over right away. She asks a fellow fashion model, Peggy, if she can use her car to see Franco. She agrees and Nicole takes off.

When Nicole arrives at Franco's home, he's no where to be found. The masked killer is once again on the prowl as he attacks her. He finds a sort of claw lying around and rams it into her face, killing her instantly. He digs through her purse, trying to find the diary, but has no luck. Peggy finds a ride home and one of her fellow employee's, Marquis, stays with her for awhile to keep her safe. Inspector Silvester calls Peggy to inform her about finding her car abandoned. After they tell her about Nicole's death, they insist to pay her a visit. She doesn't want Marquis to be seen there, so she sends him away.

Shortly after he leaves, she pulls the diary of Isabelle's out of her purse and starts to read it. Once she sees that things written could connect her to the murders, she burns it. There's a knock on the door while that's going on. Thinking it's the police, she quickly opens it, only to find the masked killer. He begins to beat her and then tries to find out where she put the diary. When he finds out that she burnt it, he beats her into unconsciousness and carries her upstairs. When she awakes, he starts to burn her with a large heating iron. Eventually killing her by pushing her face against it.

Inspector Silvester suspects that one of the five men working at the fashion house has been committing all of the murders. He takes all of them to jail and holds them over night. Greta, another fashion model, drives home from the fashion house to an empty home. When she arrives, she finds the corpse of Peggy in her trunk. She drags the corpse inside and hides it behind some dressing walls. When she checks on it minutes after, the body is being held up and then falls on her. The masked killer comes out of the shadows and starts suffocating her with a chair cover. When the police find the two females the next day, they obviously know it wasn't one of the five men doing it. The cops are now back to phase one.

One of the very early giallo films and definitely one of the most influential in its genre. For a film from this time, it is quite violent. There's also more than the four females mentioned get killed. The first murder was the best and happened within the first ten minutes of the film. The corpse looked more than perfect when it was cramped in the clothes cabinet. Nicole's death was interesting, but the outcome only had blood running from her mouth. Which didn't make much sense because the claw had three points to it. They should have stuck into her forehead or eyes. At least there was some sign of brutality though. Peggy's scars and bruises she got from being beaten and burned were very authentic. Greta's corpse was quite bland since he death didn't call for any blood shed. Just a pale body laying on top of another.

Cristina was an odd actress. At times she would shoot out stellar performances, though when she got worried she seemed to forget how to portray such emotions. At one time she was scared for her life and explaining such to Max. All she did was open her eyes as wide as possible and look straight ahead of her (which was no where near Max) and just ramble uncontrollably. It was definitely something that was not intended. Another flaw in performances was when one of the fashion models was drowning under water due to the killer holding her head under water. After she had died, her eyes shifted to the side for a split second. Had the camera not been completely zoomed on her face, the eye movement would have totally been missed.

Good acting, good violence, a little blood, authentic looking corpses. The story line was easy to follow and remained steady. The mystery on who the killer was kept being pushed as being someone totally different than who it really was. The pace was also pretty steady through out the entire film. It wasn't so good that I wished the movie was hours longer, but it wasn't so slow that it made me think several of the scenes could have been cut. Every scene played its role in the story. If you're a fan of the giallo genre, this is a must see. Or maybe even a good one to start out with.

Final Conclusion: 8/10
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