Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: Blood and Black Lace (aka Sei donne per l'assassino) (1964)

Blood and Black Lace (aka Sei donne per l'assassino) (1964)
Director: Mario Bava
Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, and Thomas Reiner
Running Time: 84 min

  So excited to watch this!  Director Mario Bava (KIll, Baby Kill, A Bay of Blood) is becoming one of my all time favourite directors, not just because of the groundbreaking films that he has created but for his ability to take a considerably limited budget and work within those constraints to create some the most unforgettable impressive terror in film ever.  He is like a mad magician because he turns nothing into something and that is the real magic of the movies.

  During the night, Isabella is on her way home to the fashion house and she is attacked by a faceless killer.  She struggles to fight back but she ends up brutally murdered in the garden.  The next morning, fashion house mistress Contessa Cristina complains to the manager, Max Marian that Isabella is late again and if this happens again she will be fired.  Cristina walks off in a huff, bitches to some other models and then while putting a dress away, finds the body of Isabella in the closet.  The police come to investigate and question everybody, the models, the ne'er do wells who work for Max and they even go to speak with Isabella's boyfriend, Frank, who is a antiques dealer and a cokehead but the police can't find pin this on anyone, yet.
  That night there is a fashion show at the house that night, even though Isabella was murdered, the show must go on.  Cristina is rushing around trying to find someone to wear the dress that Isabella was suppose to wear but no one will touch it because they feel that it's cursed.  Finally, Nicole grabs it and while looking for a broach that goes with the dress, she finds Isabella's diary.  A look of concern washes over the faces of everyone in the room and Nicole puts the book into her purse, so she can turn it over to the police tomorrow.  Unfortunately, Frank calls Nicole and asks her to skip out of the show and come see him immediately because he is sick.  She borrowers her roommate Peggy's car and ditches the show.  Unfortunately when she arrives at the antiques shop, she meets up with the faceless killer and is killed.  However, the faceless killer can't find the diary because somebody has stolen it from Nicole!  What information does this diary possess and at what lengths will this madman go to find it?  Is anyone safe at the fashion house and how many will die at the hands of this maniac?

  This movie is incredibly gorgeous to watch and has one of the best giallo stories that I've come across.  This being one of the earliest films of the genre, you can see how it influenced other directors, like Argento and Lenzi, with Bava's use of colours and shooting style.  The story is a fantastic whodunnit, which was a style that Bava was actually bored with.  So, he changed the focus from the police and put more emphasis on the murders.  The killings aren't that extreme, considering what we have now, but there are definitively some tantalizing torture stuff that would make any gorehound smile.  As well as there are some very well done twists in this film that leave you guessing who the killer really is and a fantastic ending.
  Also, future film makers take note, Bava did this film on 150,000 dollars, which is very limited budget, after considering how well his "Black Sunday" and "Black Sabbath" did at the box office for American International.  However, this didn't stop Bava and he figured out a way to get the shots that he wanted.  I've read that the impressive dolly shot through the fashion house was done on a child's red wagon and some of his crane shots were done on a make shift seesaw. 

  There isn't that many bad things to say about this, the only thing I can think of is maybe the dubbing.  However, the script was written in English and acted this way, but when it was released in the U.S., the studio still dubbed the voices over and nearly all the male voices were done by one guy, Paul Frees.  This isn't a big deal and I think that there is a lot of leeway when watching dubbed film but I thought that this an interesting note and something to look for the next time you watch it.

  This is a great film and a definite must see for any horror fan.  This has a brilliant story, gorgeous cinematography and there are some wonderful death scenes that fans will enjoy. So, if your looking for a bloody whodunnit, then this should be on the top of your list.

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