Blood and Black Lace (Arrow Video Blu-ray / Movie Review)
Beautiful sets, beautiful women, beautiful cinematography, beautiful colours and finally a beautiful Blu-ray; Blood and Black Lace is all those things and more. Directed by Mario Bava and released in 1964, Blood and Black Lace is a murder mystery worth cracking and if you’re still not sure, read on to see if I can convince you otherwise…
DISCS: 3 (1 Blu-ray, 2 DVD) RUN-TIME: 89 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.66:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: Italian LPCM Mono, English LPCM Mono LANGUAGE: Italian / English SUBTITLES: English / English SDH REGION: A + B RATING: 18 PRODUCTION DATE: 1964
SIX MODELS. SIX VICTIMS FOR A CRAZED MASKED KILLER. The Cristian Haute Couture fashion house is a home to models… and backstabbing… and blackmail… and drug deals… and MURDER. Having established a template for the giallo with The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Mario Bava set about cementing its rules with Blood and Black Lace. In doing so he created one of the most influential films ever made – an Italian classic that would spearhead the giallo genre, provide a prototype for the slasher movie, and have a huge effect on filmmakers as diverse as Dario Argento and Martin Scorsese. Newly restored from the original camera negative and presented here in its original, uncut Italian form, this dual-format release allows fans to see Blood and Black Lace afresh and offers newcomers the ideal introduction to a major piece of cult filmmaking.
You may or may not of heard of the term giallo before, so let me paste the definition, as Blood and Black Lace is through and through a giallo film. Giallo (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒallo], plural gialli) is a 20th-century Italian genre of literature and film. In Italy, the term simply denotes thrillers, typically of the crime fiction and mystery subgenres, regardless of the country of origin. A little more info on that, giallo also means Yellow in Italian and there used to be these murder mystery books on the shelves in Italy that had Yellow covers, hence why these movies are referred to as giallo. They usually involve a black gloved murderer, who is kept a secret until the end and plenty of gorgeous, scantily clad women. Dario Argento became the king of gialli movies in the 70s, but it was Mario Bava, who started it all with the title The Girl Who Knew Too Much, released in 1963. The next year Bava came out with Blood and Black Lace, continuing on with the giallo tradition of the black gloved murder mystery and lots of beautiful women getting dispatched in gruesome ways.
Blood and Black Lace does plenty of things right in order to keep the mystery going through its scant 89 minute runtime. It was only near the end where I started to figure out exactly who the killer was, but it still kept things interesting all the way to the credits. I do have to point out there was a few times where it was pretty hilarious how every single suspect in the movie was in one room and the camera focuses on each one, as intense ‘whodunit’ music plays. I was reminded of the wonderfully bad Pieces during that scene, which also had every suspect in one room, but with the added bonus of lightning and thunder occurring. Still, a small cheesy scene is not taking away from this masterfully crafted suspense thriller. There is just something beautiful in the way the Italians shoot their movies. Full of colour and amazing architecture, it’s a tall order to be able to stand eye to eye with these masters of suspense and Mario Bava stands tall.
Arrow does an amazing job on capturing Blood and Black Lace in glorious high definition. The colours pop and the movie has never looked better. With no noticeable film degradation, this movie is candy for the eyes. I applaud Arrow on serving up a fantastic looking release. I’ve checked out a few other reviews and there are complaints of the ratio being slightly off and cutting some of the frame. I myself didn’t notice anything, but I wasn’t looking either. Still, I figured it best to note it.
I watched the movie in the original Italian language, with English Subtitles and I have no complaints. From the fantastic opening scene, with the wonderful theme blaring loud and clear, all the way to the screams of plenty of victims, this is one movie that is pleasing to the ears. The two options included are: Italian LPCM Mono and English LPCM Mono.
Rounding out this release is a helping of special features. Arrow really knows how to deliver the goods and they do just that with the features. First up is a new commentary with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark. You also have a lengthy documentary titled Psycho Analysis, an alternate US opening sequence, more interviews, a trailer, a short film titled Yellow (which I watched, but didn’t exactly enjoy. It was overly long, with hardly any dialogue and an ending that left you with a feeling of confusion) and finally a booklet. Honestly, I’m still working my way through these features and I have a feeling you’ll be very happy with all that is given to you. Just move on down to the next section to see exactly what is included in this hefty release.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Optional Italian and English soundtracks presented in original uncompressed mono PCM audio
Newly translated subtitles for the Italian audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
Brand new audio commentary by Mario Bava’s biographer Tim Lucas
Psycho Analysis – a new documentary on Blood and Black Lace and the origins of the giallo genre featuring interviews with directors Dario Argento (Suspiria) and Lamberto Bava (Demons), screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (All the Colors of the Dark) critics Roberto Curti and Steve Della Casa, and crime novelists Sandrone Dazieri and Carlo Lucarelli
An appreciation by Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, the creative duo behind Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Yellow – the much-acclaimed neo-giallo by Ryan Haysom & Jon Britt [Blu-ray exclusive]
Gender and Giallo – a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the giallo’s relationship with the social upheavals of the 1960s and 70s
Panel discussion on Mario Bava featuring Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava and Steve Della Casa, recorded at the 2014 Courmayeur Film Festival
The Sinister Image: Cameron Mitchell – an episode of David Del Valle’s television series, devoted to the star of Blood and Black Lace and presented in full
The alternative US opening titles, sourced from Joe Dante’s private print and scanned in 2K especially for this release
Original theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Howard Hughes, author of Cinema Italiano and Mario Bava: Destination Terror, an interview with Joe Dante, David Del Valle on Cameron Mitchell and more, all illustrated with archive stills and posters
Blood and Black Lace isn’t just beautiful looking, it’s also got a great mystery to go along with its looks. Directed by the legendary Mario Bava and considered one of the first real giallo thrillers, Blood and Black Lace is a must own for any slasher fan. Arrow did a fantastic job on this Blu-ray release, which is crammed full with special features, superb video and audio. This all combined makes this one release worth donning your black leather gloves and grabbing the first available copy.