A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant, with only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.
Isabella, a young model is murdered by a mysterious masked figure at a boarding house run by Max Morlan and his lover Countess Christina Como. When Isabella's boyfriend is suspected of the killing, her diary, which apparently has some incriminating evidence linking her to the killer, disappears, the masked killer begins killing off all the models in and around the house to find the diary.Written by
The original European version opened with a title sequence in which the camera focuses on each cast member as their name appears on the screen. The US distributors, Lawrence Woolner and Bernard Woolner, hired Filmation Studios to create a new title sequence featuring a montage of mannequins and skulls. The original title sequence has been restored on VCI Home Video's DVD release. The original US release removed a shot of the bathwater turning blood red in Claude Dantes' death scene. This shot was seen in the montage of scenes used in Matador, and has been restored on VCI Home Video's DVD release. See more »
Sei Donne Per L'Assassino/Blood and Black Lace(1964) introduced the body count concept to horror films. Influential concept which shaped style of Giallo films from 1970s-1980s and American Slasher subgenre of 1980s. Mario Bava filmed each murder sequence in their own distinct flavor. Blood and Black Lace(1964) is an example of making every death scene in a body count pic memorable. Years later, Mario Bava did another body count driven giallo in Reazione a Catena/Bay of Blood(1971) which surpasses this giallo in number of death moments. Mario Bava was an innovator in horror and general cinema whose visual style continues to influence.
Blood & Black Lace(1964) offered audiences in early 1960s a candy coding spectacle of death and violence. A positive is the lack of a moral preaching which is a major weakness of the American Slasher film. Adult orienated horror film which thankfully lacks the basic elements of a Teenage Slasher film. Follows in steps of Grand Guignol, and theater of cruelty theater forms. Death moments are filmed in Grand Guignol style with physical intensity. Theater of Cruelty influence is based on film's preference of metaphysical and mise-en-scene forms over motives of character and psychology.
The first murder which takes place during opening moments is an intense preview of things to come. Murder of Nicole includes colorful setting and stylish weapon. Peggy's death scene begins with build up sympathy for character. Forth murder sequence concludes with macabre modeling image. Tao Li's death beings in abrupt fashion and features erotic elements. The sixth and final murder sequence is the most tragic of them all.
Greed is main reason behind murders in the story. The rich are unsympatheticly depicted by Bava as being decadent and selfish. Greed is a driving force for most of Bava's characters who barely care for anything else. I think of film as part of an informal trilogy which I call Greed trilogy. Greed trilogy consists of Sei Donne Per L'Assassino/Blood and Black Lace(1964), 5 Bambole per la Luna D'Agosto/5 Dolls for an August Moon(1970), and Reazione a Catena/Bay of Blood(1971). River of greed in Bava's films results only in death and tragedy.
Mario Bava paints many scenes in gorgeous technicolor process. He exercises different colors in Blood and Black Lace(1964) with flamboyant vision. Colors of blue, black, green, purple, red, and yellow are used to represent different types of predictaments. Bava's expertise as cinematographer and painter is a plus in the film's look. Scene in antique shop is a lesson on how to film something in extravagant colors. There are few filmmakers out there with exception of Dario Argento and Martin Scorsese who are able to incorporate color into film with artistic flair like Mario Bava was able to do.
Suspense in murder sequences is manufactured via extreme colors and physical intensity. Bava depicts an aura of paranoia and suspicion as a result of photographing scenes with extreme use of colors. He detaches himself from identifying with murderer by showing face in a white blank. In photographing sequences with visual flair, Mario Bava treats the viewer to a large helping of voluptuous desert. I consider film to be director's most sightly color photographed giallo. Blood & Black Lace(1964) stands out in giallo genre because of artistic touch and visceral flamboyance.
On the surface, the Haute Couture Fashion House is a place of idealized beauty and social priviledge. Under the facade however, reveals a backdrop of aristocratic decay, blackmail, drugs, murder, and sex. Deception is a motif which frequents the art and cinema of Mario Bava. Bava presents aristocratic society in film as heartless and selfish. They live in their own isolated environment with concerns only for sensual pleasures, power, and wealth. Aristocrats in Blood and Black Lace(1964) and other Bava films appears to be patterned after Mussolini regime.
Effect on Italian horror was slow but reached cinematic importance with emergence of Dario Argento's Bird with the Crystal Plumage in 1969. Sei Donne Per L'Assassino(1964) is considered to be the first full blown giallo in Italian cinema. Landmark film filled with elements which became staples of giallo and slasher cinema. Part of the film's brilliance is its flamboyant visual style and flair for the macabre. Director's other landmark horror picture in his career was influential Bay of Blood(1971). Blood & Black Lace(1964) blends in elements of giallo and noir with perfect fusion.
There are interesting allusions to Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity(1944) during second half. Relationship between Massimo and Countess Christina shares comparisons with relationship between Walter and Mrs. Dietrichson in Double Indemnity(1944). Last scene is an updated take off of final moments in Whip and the Body(1963). Very good performances are given by Cameron Mitchell and Eva Bartok who play their parts well characterized by detachment and passion. Bava did a variation of fashion world in another giallo called Il Rosso Segno Della Follia/Hatchet for the Honeymoon(1969). Red Diary is a wonderful plot device used again in Bay of Blood(1971).
Luciano Pigozzi earns the title of Italian Peter Lorre with Lorrish and sinister presence. Death of Peggy via hot stove was slightly cut especially in moment when face is pulled off to reveal it to be destroyed and steaming. Moment was cut due to being too graphic in its time and has never appeared in any print of Blood and Black Lace(1964). Heroes are almost non existent in Mario Bava's universe and Sei Donne Per L'Assassino(1964) is no exception. Tightly directed and nicely edited with wonderful trashy jazz film score by Carlos Rustichelli. What it lacks in gore is made up with physical and visual intensive drive.
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