Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964). Director: Mario Bava. [NOTE: End credit says that the English version was produced, written and directed by Lou Moss. The Italian title is Sei donne per l'assassino.]

An especially brutal murderer is slaying the beautiful models of the Christiane Fashion House in Rome. The establishment is owned by Contessa Como (Eva Bartok), a widow who is keeping company with one Max Morlan (Cameron Mitchell). Inspector Silvester (Thomas Reiner) locks up all the male suspects but the murders continue. This entertaining, well-made and suspenseful film was highly influential on the many Italian horror thrillers by Dario Argento and others that came afterward (while it itself was influenced by Hitchcock's Psycho, especially in regard to a intense focus on and depiction of murder.) There are illogical moments -- why does one frightened woman drag a corpse into her house and even leave the door wide open? -- and a disregard for forensics, but the movie works on a visceral level and is generally well-acted. Bartok and Mary Arden as model/victim Peggy come off best. Thomas Reiner is the Great Stone Face as the cop assigned to the case. Not badly dubbed (Paul Frees did some of the dubbing, apparently for more than one character.) Credit may have been given to someone else for supposedly directing this "English" version, but any way you slice it the film is pure Bava. Carlo Rustichelli's score is a plus, both the eerie incidental music and the lazy, sensual jazz theme that opens the movie and plays on occasion throughout. Some of the atmospherically-lit sequences were considered quite sadistic in their day and still pack a punch. Bava also directed Twitch of the Death Nerve [AKA Bay of Blood].

Verdict: A creepy treat for those who love multiple murders in movies. ***.

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