Thursday, June 1, 2017

Blood and Black Lace, The Fall of the Beautiful

Edgar Allan Poe believed the only thing more stunning than a beautiful woman was a dead beautiful woman. Why do horror writers and fans obsess with the vicious murders of the most beautiful of ladies? Do men see these women as unattainable, therefore as vessels that mock their plight? Do other women see them as surgically altered, with tons of icky make-up, and forever photo-shopped, and therefor not real? Do the sultry vixens cause men to lust for a non-existent ideal which causes men to force women into unrealistic expectations? Or are we existing in a misogynistic culture? Or worse, are men just created to violate and murder women? From Mario Bava, 1964's "Blood and Black Lace."
A short distance from her modelling studio, the sultry fashion model, Isabella (Francesca Ungaro) is brutally beaten and strangled.  The studio is run by the beautiful Contessa Cristina Como (Eva Bartok) and her BF Max (Cameron Mitchell). While dressing for the next fashion show, the other models come across Isabella's diary. This is bad news for everyone as Isabella kissed and told, shall we say.  She had sex with every married man in Italy, and all her model colleagues had abortions and are hooked on drugs. Nicole (Ariana Gorini) takes the diary, telling everyone else she will bring it to the police. Before she does, the killer lures her to a creepy flat and offs her the same way as Isabella got it. Uh oh, the killer finds out that before murdering Nicole, Peggy absconded with the scandalous tome.
Greta and Peggy
Poor Peggy (Mary Arden). She will fare the worse. Peggy will be tortured before her demise. As the killer burns off Peggy's face, the police haul in all the suspects. Five men make up the suspect list and while in jail the murders continue. All the women are now suspects. As the ravishing Greta meets an unusual demise, the plot gets complicated.  Whoever the killer is, whether it be a sex-maniac, a jilted lover, or something more sinister, it is apparent that none of the vixens will be allowed to live.
Just who is the maniac, and why is he, or she, so hateful of the more attractive among us?  Will the police catch this fiend before we run out of fashion models? Are you alarmed because you understand what Edgar Allan Poe meant? It is not a surprise that beautiful Italian supermodels would die horribly in a Mario Bava film.  A bit exploitation, a lot horror, and quite a mystery are the ingredients that make "Blood and Black Lace" a must see.


  1. Well, first of all, Cameron Mitchell hails from my neck of the woods. We were born in the same county in PA. This sounds like a horrific who done it. I am all in on this one. Actually seems like it would be entertaining. Good review, Christopher.

    1. I am from Allentown PA! Where are you from? I currently live in Baltimore, but I am moving back to the Lehigh Valley soon.

  2. Nice review Christopher & I was surprised at how effective I found this & I can see how much Argento was influenced by Bava after watching it. I had held out on watching it purely due to its 1964 year as I had wondered if it would be too tame but found it a clever, stylish and nicely atmospheric giallo. I've only recently started to really appreciate Bava's work and this was one of his films which really made me appreciate his body of work.

  3. I found your opening comment quite interesting also- "Edgar Allan Poe believed the only thing more stunning than a beautiful woman was a dead beautiful woman. Why do horror writers and fans obsess with the vicious murders of the most beautiful of ladies?"

    Argento gave is thoughts on the issue: "I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or man. I certainly don't have to justify myself to anyone about this. I don't care what anyone thinks or reads into it. I have often had journalists walk out of interviews when I say what I feel about this subject.".
    Ah so crazy...

  4. This was a great take on this film, awesome job Chris!