'Blood and Black Lace: Special Edition'
(Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Mary Arden, Enzo Cerusico, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / NR / (1964) 2018 / VCI Entertainmment)
Overview: Director Mario Bava's Giallo Masterpiece! An unscrupulous business operating under the guise of a top fashion house with exotic models running sexual favors, cocaine dealings and blackmail, becomes a murder scene - after someone is pushed to the edge.
The saga begins when a beautiful model is brutally murdered, and her boyfriend, a known addict supplying her drugs, is suspected of the crime ... but is he guilty or is someone waiting in the shadows setting him up?
Blu-ray Verdict: One of the most chillingly sadistic gialli of all times, this 1964 masterpiece has lost none of its power.
Director Mario Bava, the king of Italian horror, cleared the path for Dario Argento and others with this film, though it was not his first effort in the field.
In 1962, Bava delivered what was probably the first Italian thriller, 'La ragazza che sapeva troppo'. But whereas 'La ragazza' was a relatively straight-forward murder mystery, this film ignores plot and character in favor of concentrating on the link between cinema and spectacle.
The story deals with a series of gruesome murders which are plaguing the chic Haute Couture fashion salon: one by one, the lovely models are horribly murdered by a mad man who appears to be operating with no real motive.
The police write the killer off as a sex maniac, but the truth of the matter is that the salon is a veritable hot bed of sex, drugs, and sordid dealings.
A diary, loaded with information about these indiscretions, is making the rounds between the various models, and the killer is obsessed with tracking it down before his/her indiscretions are revealed.
Though structured as a murder mystery - the German co-producers no doubt wanted Bava to deliver an Edgar Wallace-style thriller - the director takes the film off into unexpected, visionary directions.
Even more so than Argento or Fulci, Bava seems fascinated by images of violent death. Yet whereas former med student Fulci insisted on dousing his corpses with blood and gore, former painter Bava keeps the bloodshed to a minimum, instead concentrating on the violent death throes which are shot in a eerily beautiful manner.
The very first slasher film, though that label belittles Bava's achievement somewhat. Unlike later hack-em-up directors, Bava is very conscious of the links between the viewer and the cinematic process. By encouraging the viewer to identify with the killer's pleasure ie: we think the killings are beautiful in the same way that he no doubt does - Bava makes a very powerful statement on the power of the image.
The characters are flat and one-dimensional, because they need to be. There are no heroes, only victims; as you would fully expect from this cinematic master.
The police are depicted as arrogant and ineffectual, in contrast to most films of this era, Bava does not encourage the viewer to identify with anyone beyond the killer.
Within the microcosmic environment of the fashion salon, Bava makes some telling comments on society, as well. Visionary filmmaking at its best. This is (now) a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand New 2018 2K Restoration from Original Film Materials in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
2018 Commentary by Kat Ellinger, Editor-in-Chief and author, Diabolique Magazine
2018 Commentary by film historian and David Del Valle & director/writer, C. Courtney Joyner
Video Interview with Mary Dawne Arden
Archival video interview with star, Cameron Mitchell, with David Del Valle
Original American Theatrical Trailer, plus Italian, German and French Trailers
Bonus Trailers of other Bava films
Extensive Photo Gallery
Alternate original Italian or original US theatrical main titles
Languages: Original Italian, English, French
Subtitles: English & Spanish
Bonus Music Tracks by composer Carlo Rustichelli
Video Comparison: American Version Cuts / Euro Uncut
2-Sided Coverwrap with Alternate Cover Art