'Blood and Black Lace (2-Disc Special Edition)'
(Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Diana DiPaolo, Luciano Piggozi, et al / Blu ray+DVD / R / (1964) 2016 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Isabella, a young model is murdered by a mysterious masked figure at a boarding house run by Max Morlacchi and his lover Countess Cristiana 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.
Blu-ray Verdict: An upper-crust European fashion salon is having a devil of a time keeping girls working for it in this unique, visually breath-taking Mario Bava film. One fashion model after another dies a horrible death: one strangled, another failing to accept the gauntlet too soon, one having her face pushed into a hot iron, and so on.
After watching this film, now out on crystal clear Blu-ray edition, there will be almost no doubt at all how much Mario Bava influenced modern directors - and no one more particularly than Dario Argento. Bava's use of color, his choice of murder victims, his mystery of cat with mouse and then dog chasing cat(police on trail of murderer) are all signature trademarks of Argento's work. 'Blood and Black Lace' is perhaps the most stylish, stunning film I have seen in terms of how color is used in every frame. From the opening credits with a great rhythmic score, hues of every shade permeate the screen. Bava uses colors like no other director I have ever seen attempt to do so with the exception of Argento.
Watch 'Suspiria' by Argento and closely look at how he uses blues and reds and tell me Bava is not written all over it! 'Blood and Black Lace' has all the colors and it is really like a moving canvas. Bava is the artist controlling lighting, shading, and depth perception. I know I am gushing, but this is one beautiful film. The story, at least for me, is a secondary matter. It is a good story. I knew who the murderer was fairly quickly, but Bava does throw in some red herrings that will at least have you second guessing yourself.
The actors are all pretty good. Cameron Mitchell plays a guy running the salon with his wife, played VERY ably by the lovely Eva Bartok. I had trouble taking my eyes off her as well as the rest of the beautiful European models. Luciano Pigozzi has a small role. You might remember him as the Italian character actor with the Peter Lorre face and eyes. 'Blood and Black Lace' is certainly one of Bava's best films. Not his best though - 'Black Sunday' wins that hands down; for me, if nobody else, of course. But this film is definitely his greatest in terms of artistic merit. It is a visual masterpiece and Bava deserves so much more credit as an innovative, creative force in film than he receives. This is a new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
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
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