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!