For Reel

Blood and Black Lace (1964)
November 6, 2016, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mario Bava
3.5 Stars
blood-and-black-laceThe second of six murders in Blood and Black Lace is the film’s masterpiece. A faceless killer stalks a young girl in an impossibly cluttered antique shop, vanishing before her eyes as a magenta strobe light flashes on and off. This setpiece, like many in the film, is an orgy of color and fluid camera movements—to Mario Bava, as is typical of the giallo genre, color is a tool used to suggest the subjectivity of a scene, with horrific, lush reds and pinks hinting at danger and death. Bava’s fetishistic structure is troubling to any viewer who claims to have a conscious—the film is wrought as a series of beautiful women being stalked and killed—but if Bava doesn’t balk from the pornographic implications, he uses them as a critique of the fashion industry, consumed by self-interest and the debasement of models (it is no coincidence that the corpses are often “posed” as if they were in a magazine spread). At once beautiful and sadistic, Blood and Black Lace is a striking formal answer to the American and British horror films of the period, suggesting that an overtly disciplined, self-aware aesthetic could render things just as horrifying as the time’s favored realistic approach.