Film Review: Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Also known as: Sei donne per l’assassino, lit. Six Women for the Murderer (Italy)
Release Date: March 14th, 1964 (Italy)
Directed by: Mario Bava
Written by: Mario Bava, Marcello Fondato
Music by: Carlo Rustichelli
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Ariana Gorini, Franco Ressel

Productions Georges de Beauregard, Top-Film Produktionsgesellschaft mbH, Emmepi Cinematografica, 89 Minutes


If there is one thing Mario Bava knew how to do, it was to take a normal setting and make it unbelievably colorful, vivid and surreal. Blood and Black Lace is a perfect example of that.

Giallo at its finest, Blood and Black Lace is a classic. The story revolves around a masked killer who is picking off beautiful models one-by-one. The killer’s motive is initially unclear but once a diary revealing secrets about the fashion house is discovered and then stolen, the killer gets more aggressive and desperate.

The killer wears a featureless mask and sports a black trench coat and black hat, similar to the mysterious character The Blank from the 1990 film Dick Tracy. In fact, this movie may have influenced Dick Tracy in that regard, as the unmasking of these two similar characters treads the same territory. Plus, the vibrant color palate of Dick Tracy may take its cue from this film, as well.

Blood and Black Lace, like other giallo movies, is a sort of proto-slasher. It created the idea of a high body count, which would become a slasher trope once those films became popular in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Its style also influenced the likes of Dario Argento, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.

Mario Bava created a beautiful yet unsettling world for this picture to take place in. There is beauty, opulance and elegance at every turn and at the same time, there is dread, terror and unnerving suspense. The film’s colorful presentation, whether in the visual or narrative sense, is in stark contrast to its darkness. There is this sort of multilayered yin and yang: light and dark, beauty and horror, fantasy and reality.

Blood and Black Lace is an alluring motion picture. It is pristine in its presentation and almost enchanting. It also has one of the coolest opening credits sequences I have ever seen, which served to set the film’s tone perfectly.

It would have been impossible for Bava to know how influential this film would be to the future of his industry but without Blood and Black Lace, some of the great films to follow might have never existed or been drastically different.

Rating: 9.5/10