Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recommended!: Blood & Black Lace (1963)

We're pleased to see the online horror community taking note that July 31st is the centenary of Mario Bava. The name is revered by many horror fans; indeed some consider him a kind of highfather for contemporary horror as we know it. Bava began working in the film industry as a cinematographer, and as director of a number of low-budget genre films he brought an uncanny visual sense, coupled with an acute grasp of atmosphere. Though the stories of his movies are wildly uneven, even the worst of them holds attention through Bava's captivating style.

Our favorite Bava movie is usually the last one we saw, so we're going to take the occasion of his centenary to gush a bit about Blood & Black Lace. The opening credits let you know exactly what you're in for:

Blood & Black Lace is the best of all worlds, setting a whodunnit style murder mystery inside a fashion house, with a faceless assassin stalking his/her prey across some of the more stylish settings ever seen in horror, and fueled by an intense and lusty score by Carlo Rustichelli. It's a shame, but somewhat understandable, that the movie was so wildly lambasted and misunderstood by critics of its day. It took us a while to catch up to Bava, but now the mastery of his images, and his knack for delivering suspense, are indisputable. Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas (who wrote a most impressive tome on Bava) posted the clip below, saying that he'd "never seen a better, more effective horror scene than this."

Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve (aka Bay of Blood) is widely regarded as having provided the template for the contemporary slasher movie; indeed, Friday the 13th part 2 lifted two of its gruesome murders practically shot-for-shot. But I often wonder what that subgenre of horror would have looked like, and where it could have gone, had it latched onto the more overtly stylish and colorful example of this movie.

It appears that Blood & Black Lace is only available online at Fandor, but anything in Bava's filmography is at least worth a look. (ENVIOUS! of Washington, DC area moviegoers who get to see a bunch of his movies on film at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre this summer.) Bava fans won't need the excuse of his centenary to dive back in, but if you've never seen a Bava movie it's the perfect time. Dive in! We're waiting for you.

No comments:

Blog archive