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Sei Donne per l'Assassino

Blood and Black Lace
Blutige Seide

Italy/France/West Germany 1964
produced by
Alfredo Mirabile, Massimo Patrizi, Georges de Beauregard for Emmepi Cinematografica, Monachia Film
directed by Mario Bava
starring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Ariana Gorini, Dante DiPaolo, Mary Arden, Franco Ressel, Claude Dantes, Luciano Pigozzi (= Alan Collins), Lea Krugher (= Lea Lander), Massimo Righi, Francesca Ungaro, Giuliano Raffaelli, Harriet Medin (as Harriet White Medin), Mary Carmen (as Mara Carmosino), Heidi Stroh, Enzo Cerusico, Nadia Anty
written by Marcello Fondato, with the collaboration of Giuseppe Barilla, Mario Bava, music by Carlo Rustichelli

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Preparing for a big fashion show, the last thing Countess Cristiana (Eva Bartok) and her advisor Morlachi (Cameron Mitchell) need is one of their models - Isabella (Francesca Ungaro) - being killed by a masked madman.

Amidst all the confusion following that incident though, and despite the investigations by inspector Silvestri (Thomas Reiner), Cristiana keeps it cool and is having her fashion show the very next day - during which one of the models, Nicole (Ariana Gorini) finds Isabelle's diary, and after rather prematurely telling it to everyone, she announces she will bring it to the police herself right away. Instead though she goes to her boyfriend, antique dealer Franco, in order to destroy the diary which might hold many compromising facts about her and Franco's cocaine addiction.

Of course, at Franco's antiques shop, Nicole doesn't find her lover but the masked killer who brutally kills her ... but wouldn't you know it, Nicole does not have the diary anymore. The next logical stop for the killer is thus model Peggy's (Mary Arden) place, whose car Nicole has borrowed ... and who did indeed steal the diary from Nicole, but she also has burnt it since it did contain compromising details about her as well ... Since she did burn the diary which might reveal his identity, the killer decides to be merciful and doesn't kill Peggy but only ties her up and tortures her ... until she tears off his mask, with which she pretty much signs her death warrant ...

By now inspector Silvestri has come up with a theory that the killer might be a misogynist maniac working from within the fashion house, so he arrests all the house's male employees and associates, which are beides Morlachi and Franco Peggy's boyfriend Marco (Massimo Righi), the generally creepy Lizzarino (Luciano Pigozzi = Alan Collins), and model Greta's (Lea Krugher) boyfriend, the Marquis (Franco Ressel).

Back in the fashion house in the meantime things calm down as well since Cristiana and all the models who are still alive think the killer is one of the arrested men as well, and slowly, one after the other, the girls drive home ... but Greta, upon arriving at her home, finds the corpse of poor Peggy in the trunk, and when she's trying to hide her (though it's not quite clear why she tries to hide her), she gets killed by our masked killer as well ...

Being faced with that fact, Silvestri has to let all his suspects go, since their alibis are more than waterproof, and now has to find an outside sex-maniac. And in truest genre fashion, the killer is of course who you'd least expect it to be ...

 

By and large, Blood and Black Lace is considered as one of the earliest examples of the giallo - meaning basically an Italian psycho serialkiller-whodunnit -, a genre that wouldn't come into full swing until the early 70's. In the late 70's, too, the giallo, while not at all without predecessors, would have a large impact on the American slasher-movies.

As it is though, all the key elements are quite in place in this one: a masked and fetishized killer, a bunch of attractive girls getting killed in increasingly nasty, inventive, sadistic ways, all wrapped up in a way too convoluted plot relying heavily on both coincidence and red herrings instead of narrative logic - and in the hands of director Mario Bava, this all turns out to be a very stylish, tense and above all highly enjoyable affair, a film that, while not necessarily well-written, has all the suspense and shocks in the right places, and even though it's clearly a piece of nostalgia, it still keeps one at the edge of one's seat!

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD