Blood and Black Lace (Sei Donne per L'Assassino, 1964)

US Arrow Video 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Limited edition edition - region All


 

Visually brilliant and groundbreaking in it's use of Technicolor colors and, for it's time,
strong violence. The film that set the standard for the Gialli genre, with the killer
wearing black hat, trenchcoat and gloves, even though this had been seen earlier in
films like "The Spiral Staircase" and the German Krimi series with start in 1959.
Also the Swedish director Arne Mattsson's 1958 "Mannekäng i rött" about murders
in a Fashion House surely must have inspired the Mario Bava film.

US Arrow Video 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Limited edition edition

But first, some nostalgia, reminiscing about a SECAM VHS video

After watching my first Dario Argento movie (Suspiria) in the summer of 1978, heavily
cut by Swedish censors (and finally watching it Uncut dubbed to French in Paris
1981) i was hooked into the horror genre. In the early years of VHS Video I started
searching for uncut horror videos. To be able to see the legendary "Sei donne per
L'Assassino" 1964 by Mario Bava, the visually genius that inspired the films of
Dario Argento I had to buy the French VHS cassette of "6 femmes pour l'assassin".
The sleeve was really cool and the film almost on the "Suspiria" level of Wow, but
there was one minus, French VHS films had another color system than most countries
in Europe used, PAL, and French were in SECAM (the US ones were in NTSC).

To watch it I had to buy a VERY expensive Multi Video player plus a Multi TV set.
OK, if I had been a diplomat i could've watched any TV transmission and any Video
around the world, but I was not. This was the mid 80's and soon watching NTSC or
PAL wasn't any problem. Today you have to buy a Multi region Bluray instead.
I just had to see two films: "Blood and Black Lace" and "Faster Pussycat, Kill!
Kill!" by Russ Meyer. The latter US VHS NTSC video I bought from the Master
himself as at that time Russ handled all sales and communication, and the quality
of the films were top notch. Meyer was a perfectionist (something that may have
deteriorated somewhat since then, after his death).

US Arrow Video 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Limited edition edition Card

The film is a regular Who Dun'It crime mystery, but shot with such amazing colors
and visual "The Murderer wears Black" style that it has become a horror cult classic
and epitome of the Gialli genre.
The main color is Red. The Fashion House sign, the women's nails, the lipstick, the
blood, the diary, a raincoat, the telephone, the curtains and the lighting of the
the manikins. I wonder if Bava had seen the Swedish Hillman crime mystery series?

Story: (Please note that the names of the players can differ due to various dubs)

The Fashion House Christian Haute Couture is run by the Countess Christina
Como (Eva Bartok) and Massimo Morlachi (Cameron Mitchell) and her husband
has died in a car accident. Then the Fashion House is struck by a series of murders
and the title of the film tell us how many we can anticipate.
Model Isabelle (in a red raincoat) is the first who encounters the killer all dressed in
black and carrying a white face mask. When model Nicole finds Isabelle's diary
she soon becomes the 2nd victim (in a spectacular set-piece set in an Antique
shop). Model Peggy (Mary Arden) becomes victim 3 in a brutal scene involving
a stove. Model Greta (Lea Krugher/Lander) is victim 4, and the most famous death
belongs to Model Tao Li's (Claude Dantes) victim 5 in her bathtub scene.

The Bathtub murder, plagiarized in later films as e.g. Rosella Falk's brutal but brilliant
bathtub death in Umberto Lenzi's 1972
Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso (Seven Blood
Stained Orchids). Falk was a fine actress and Lenzi a great director

The most fascinating scene for me was the camera glide at the end, and the mystical
POV, Point of View shot. T
hrough the empty room of the fashion house, with the camera
becoming subjective, but not through the eye of the killer, instead through the eye of the
director or the audience. Then the camera bumps into a mannequin ....
But ther's no-one there, is Bava breaking a film wall or is he winking at us ? Mario Bava
is said to have had a lot of humour and maybe he tells us that all it's just for fun.
The film has a slightly burlesque atmosphere and could almost be a crime comedy.

Abobe: Old UK Arrow blu-ray 3 disc edition text booklet with a reversible sleeve

Besides the beautiful models we also have the Peter Lorre of Italy in the film (Luciano
Pigozzi) as Caesare Lazarini, the designer of the Fashion House, and the eternal House
keeper in Italian 1960's film, Harriett White Medin as victim no. 3's housekeeper.
As the useless Police inspector we have the stiff German actor Thomas Reiner

Finally: I've seen this film many times and on a lot of different media and I think it isn't
suspenseful or very well acted (Cameron and Reiner... i'm looking at you two) BUT ....
this film is all about the Visuals, the Setpiece murders and the Colors.
Mario Bava used blue, green and red from his palette to colorize the screen.

US Arrow Video presents this 4K Ultra HD Limited edition in widescreen 1.85:1 with
Italian or English audio 1.0 mono - region all

Extras: Limited edition 60 page Booklet, Poster, 6 cards, Audio commentary Tim Lucas
Psycho Analysis: Feature length documentary on "Blood and Black Lace" and the
origins of giallo (55 minutes), Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani: Appreciation of
"Blood and Black Lace" (10 minutes), Gender and Giallo-Visual essay by Michael
Mackenzie, Blood and Black Lace Panel Discussion (11 minutes, 2014), The Sinister
Image: The Career of Cameron Mitchell David on Del Valle TV (56 minutes),
US Alternative Opening scene, Theatrical trailer and Image galleries

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Abobe: Old UK Arrow blu-ray 3 disc edition text booklet with a reversible sleeve

The above Arrow Blu-ray edition of BABL had 3 discs, one Blu-ray of the film,
One DVD of the film and one disc with the extra material

Extras: New 2015 audio commentary by Tim Lucas, An appreciation of BABL by
Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzano (10 mins in french with subs), Blood and Bava:
A panel discussion on Mario Bava with Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava and
Steve Delle Casa (11 minutes. Courmayeur Film Festival 2014 (with Dario being
at his best), Trailer, Alternative US intro credits scene, Gender and Giallo: Visual
essay by Michael MacKenzie (37 minutes with atrocious British accent), Psycho
Analysis: A feature length documentary on Blood and Black Lace and the origins
of giallo with Dario Argento et.al. (55 minutes - The restored version of BABL
premiered in december 2014 at the Courmayeur Film Festival), The Sinister Image:
David Del Valle TV 1987 with likeable Cameron Mitchell (56 minutes)

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Above: Very early US VCI DVD edition of Blood and Black Lace

Presented in widescreen 1.66:1 ratio with Italian audio mono with
english subtitles and also with english audio mono.
Audio commentary by Mario Bava expert Tim "Video Watchdog"
Lucas, Trailers, French and US original intro scenes, Interview
with Cameron Mitchell (7 minutes) and Mary Arden (12 minutes)

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Above: Early US VCI DVD edition of Blood and Black Lace

Anamorphic widescreen. Audio commentary by Tim Lucas, Trailers
(French, Italian, US and Germany) US original intro scene
Cameron Mitchell interview (7 minutes), Interview with Mary Arden
(12 minutes), other Bava trailers, Picture gallery, Soundtrack music
by Carlo Rustichelli - 4 tracks, Comparison uncut and cut version
murder scene for murder scene (26 minutes)

 

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