Blood and Black Lace ★★★★½

HOOPTOBER 666 #23/31
Criteria: Released before 1966 (6/6), 1960's (10/6 decades)
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Out of all the "released before 1966" movies I've seen this month this one most closely resembles something that would be considered modern--it's crazy that this film came out in the early 1960's when it looks like a fully realized (albeit tamer and artsier) body count slasher flick from the 80's, such is Blood and Black Lace's far reaching influence. I saw The House with Laughing Windows a couple of weeks ago and mentioned how it could serve as a giallo primer for the uninitiated and this film could serve that same purpose as well. In fact, Blood and Black Lace is probably the purest example of the genre, a distillation of everything giallo could be if done the right way.

I still haven't met a Mario Bava movie I didn't like, and this is the most accomplished feat I've seen from him which is saying quite a lot, especially visually--the tantalizing color schemes, the fashion house setting paving the way for some truly amazing costume and set design, the brutal, effectively terrifying simplicity of its proto-slasher kills, the suspense built by the camera prowling and stalking its victims through gorgeously lit, labyrinthine sets--it's visual poetry at its most seductive. The marriage of striking, boldly colored photography and the blaring score in the opening credit sequence is a perfect example of Bava's style. By the third minute I was completely fucking locked in.

Inevitably in every giallo I see I eventually get tangled up in its convoluted plot, but all good giallo manages to be engaging despite the viewer losing their grip on the story. This movie is pretty cogent but it did lose me in its narrative web towards the end (I think it might have been the weird dubbing too)--however the sensations never went away, the tension is well-crafted enough and the movie's aesthetics do such an amazing job of reeling you into its hall of mirrors that none of it ends up mattering. Essential giallo.


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