Blood and Black Lace (1964)


I like giallo film. While I know I don’t really dream in bright colors, there is that surreal, walking underwater during a rave feeling when one watches these movies.

I would have to cite Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) as both my introduction and personal favorite of the genre however over the top arty and gory as it is.

I liked director Mario Bava’s Black Sunday. I have it on a DVD pack that I should talk about in another post. For Blood and Black Lace, Bava wanted to step away from horror and try his hand at a crime thriller, though with a little extra than your average whodunit.

Our movie takes place at an Italian fashion house salon run by Countess Cristina Como (Eva Bartok), and her boyfriend, Max (Cameron Mitchell). It appears he was at least co manager of this place for some time, and a fairly recent boyfriend. The countess wasn’t necessarily a new widow, but once you start watching, it seems pretty fast.

On the other hand, when managing models, dresses, accessories and fashion show audiences, why not have another guy around. Turns out, there is more to this salon than beehive hairstyles and colorful sequined evening wear.

Our movie begins with one model talking to her boyfriend, who appears a little short on cash. The girl promises to get a little before meeting him later tonight. A short while later, an assailant wearing a long coat, hat and a blank mask to cover his face.

The assailant in question made me think of DC’s The Question. Now, I wonder if he hung out in swinging sixties Italy prior to the Justice League….

While a fun prospect, our killer had far more ordinary motives. The first model killed left behind a diary documenting nasty little secrets about everyone that model and boss alike would prefer hidden, everything from secret pregnancies to blackmail to a spouse taken out of the way. One by one, each model is taken out in a variety of colorful ways.

I say colorful because giallo loves colored lighting and I have to say, that made the atmosphere in certain scenes, particularly where one hapless and nosy model finds herself wandering through a dark storage room lit in bright greens, blues and purples as she knocks into dress mannequins and makes herself a target as the Question, I mean the villain searches for that diary.

The reveal, while convoluted, didn’t give off much in the way of a twist, even with betrayal. I really didn’t see the point of the Inspector on the scene (Thomas Reiner) beyond looking pretty and eventually sort of unraveling things. The way this movie resolved itself, he could have hit a cafe and called it a night.

All in all, if you are a fan of the genre or Mario Bava, it’s worth a watch. If you want a little extra with your thrillers or a different take on the fashion world, that works as well. I liked this movie, but not my favorite of the lot.