Blood and Black Lace – Italy/France/West Germany, 1964

‘A fashion house of glamorous models… becomes a terror house of blood!!’

Blood and Black Lace – original title: Sei donne per l’assassino; “Six Women for the Murderer” – is a 1964 Italian/French/West German giallo horror thriller film directed by Mario Bava (Lisa and the Devil; A Bay of Blood; Black SabbathBlack Sunday). Bava co-wrote the screenplay with Giuseppe Barilla and Marcello Fondato. It stars Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner and Ariana Gorini

The film is generally considered one of the earliest and most influential of all gialli, and served as a stylistic template for the “body count” slasher films of the 1980’s. Critic Tim Lucas has noted that the film has “gone on to inspire legions of contemporary filmmakers, from Dario Argento to Martin Scorsese to Quentin Tarantino.”

Isabella (Francesca Ungaro), one of many beautiful models employed at a fashion house, is walking through the grounds that lead to the establishment one night when she is attacked and violently killed by an assailant wearing a white featureless mask.

Police Inspector Sylvester (Thomas Reiner) is assigned to investigate the murder and he interviews Max Marian (Cameron Mitchell), the manager who co-manages the salon with his lover, the recently widowed Countess Cristina Como (Eva Bartok). Max attests that he can not provide any information whatsoever that can assist the inspector, but as the investigation continues all of the fashion house’s various sins, including corruption, abortions, blackmail and drug addiction, begin to come to light. It is revealed that Isabella had kept a diary detailing these vices, and suddenly almost every employee becomes nervous…

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

On 26 March 2018, Arrow Video re-released the film on Blu-ray in the UK:

  • 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p
  • 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 audio
  • 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, crime novelist Carlo Lucarelli and others
  • An appreciation by Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, the creative duo behind Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
  • 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, with optional English and Italian audio
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

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 Buy on Blu-ray + DVD from Amazon.com

Reviews:

“Director Mario Bava stages all these murders with the flair and style that was to become a founding mantle for the giallo films… Through a prowling camera style and shadow-strewn baroque sets that are illuminated only by single brilliant colours, he creates a claustrophobic paranoia that seeps into the fabric of the movie and the viewer.” Almar Haflidason, BBC Online

“Since the movie is devoid of most other content, theme or message, it remains one of those pictures that live by style alone. But what a style! The French Mini-minuit Fantastique articles (some of the only contemporary writing which even began to take these films seriously) consistently used the word ‘delirious’ to describe the textural night world of shape and color where sexual excitement is met with bloody death.” Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant

“The roots of the Hollywood slasher are often traced back to Blood and Black Lace, yet Mario Bava’s seminal giallo has a richness of texture and complexity of gaze that have kept its elaborate carnage scintillating even following decades of leeching from genre vultures.” Fernando F. Croce, Slant magazine

Contemporary reviews:

“Murdering mannequins is sheer, wanton waste. And so is “Blood and Black Lace,” the super-gory whodunit which came out of Italy to land at neighborhood houses yesterday sporting stilted dubbed English dialogue, stark color, and grammar-school histrionics.”A. H. Weiler, The New York Times

” …okay mystery …handsomely produced.” Variety

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Cast and characters:

  • Cameron Mitchell as Max Marian
  • Eva Bartok as Christina
  • Thomas Reiner as Inspector Silvester
  • Ariana Gorini as Nicole
  • Dante DiPaolo as Frank
  • Mary Arden as Peggy
  • Franco Ressel as Marquis Richard Morell
  • Lea Krugher as Greta
  • Claude Dantes as Tao-Li
  • Massimo Righi as Marco
  • Giuliano Raffaelli as Zanchin
  • Harriette White Medin as Clarice
  • Luciano Pigozzi as Cesar Losarre
  • Francesca Ungaro as Isabella
  • Mary Carmosino as Model
  • Heidi Stroh as Blond Model
  • Enzo Cerusico as Gas Station Attendant
  • Nadia Anty as Model

Filming:

Under the working title of L’atelier della morte (“The Fashion House of Death”), the movie was filmed in Rome during a six-week period between November 1963 and January 1964. The exterior locations of the fashion house were filmed at the Villa Sciarra.

Trivia:

The script was written in English in order to allow easier exportation to the United States. All of the cast members spoke their lines in English, some of them phonetically; however, after the production was completed, the original English-language soundtrack was not utilised for the U.S. release prints. A completely new dubbing track was produced in Los Angeles under the supervision of Lou Moss. Nearly all of the male voices were provided by Paul Frees

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Image thanks: VideoCollector.co.uk

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