Blood and Black Lace

The ‘Genre’ Auteurs - Film #12
(Bava 2/5)

A formalist nightmare in which every brutal act of violence becomes a terrifying whirlwind of colour, space and sound. Bava melds classicism with terror, each murder steeped in starkly gothic imagery (paintings, mirrors, statues), each frame meticulously composed for maximum tension and beauty. There are certain moments which work purely as expressionistic horror, with nothing but flashing lights, worn-down surroundings and sound and shadow being used to drive forward the terror at hand. It's also worth noting how shocking the violence is here - perhaps it's in the way it's contrasted with the meticulousness of Bava's horror, but when death is actually shown on screen, it feels shocking in a way that few films have managed to replicate.
Of course the actual narrative here is about 100% less interesting than Bava's formal technique, but it remains consistently watchable (though never anything more), a stock-standard framework for each perfectly rendered moment of tension, horror and death to be laid on top of.
A visual feast, and one of the most gloriously stylish horror films ever made.

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