After watching several Fulci films and trying to figure out why I did not enjoy them, I have come to an immediate conclusion---Mario Bava. Bava is perhaps the main reason that I am so moved by the beautiful imagery of deep red blood. Sure, if you love Italian horror you have to also love the triumvirate that is, Bava, Argento and Fulci, but honestly I could probably leave Fulci out of my own personal equation. He doesn't sit well with me, and the best reason that I can think of is that his films do not carry the same beauty that Argento's and Bava's do. Fulci seems all about the gore factor and less about the exquisite intrigue of a beautiful murder or death opposed to a terrible murder involving blood with no aesthetic purpose. I haven't exhausted my Fulci reserves yet so yes I do have a few more films to see before I make my final conclusion--but let's just say, I'm not holding my breath. Blood and Black Lace however, is one of the most beautiful films that I have laid eyes on, and can certainly be seen as a direct inspiration for films like Deep Red and just about all of Giallo.
Blood and Black Lace is your typical murder mystery, raising the bar for future Giallos and even slasher movies. We have many characters, and a plethora of suspects- a gloved, masked and cloaked killer and a lot of beautiful women, models to be exact. One by one the models fall victim to the brutality of the killer, each somehow connected to an elusive diary which perhaps holds the key to the murderers identity. Who is the killer and who can we possibly trust when nearly everyone we become attached to, dies?
Mario Bava is one of very few directors that understands that red goes best with blood. Who knows maybe others are afraid that too much red is simply just too much-like a monochromatic outfit, but to me, nothing is more pleasing than seeing a scene completely washed in red. The bright red telephone,
the astoundingly superb red mannequins for example
are placed so carefully and perfectly within each scene that it causes me to pause and capture every single picture. Each death is like a piece of art and I'm not entirely sure if wanting to hang up each of these stills makes me creepy or cultured..
And then there's this; the most amazing bath tub drowning sequence known to mankind.
But honestly- see how the color red is present almost in every single one of those shots? Red not counting the blood I mean. It truly makes every scene so breathtaking and beautiful. And know you know I'm serious when I say that red really does go best with blood!
Sure like most Italian horror, the story is a bit dodgy and hard to follow- plus half the models look the same so it's hard to keep tabs on who is who--but much like my pal Argento, Bava's work here is more to be admired for the look and feel. Yes the dubbing and dialogue is atrocious and the ending motive seems a little rushed but the blood....THE BLOOD! How can you really beat it? It's pretty much as good to me as a delicious sandwich, which most of us know is hard to beat in my book.
One thing that definitely stood out for me when speaking of Argento, is that Blood and Black Laces ending didn't just wrap things up in a hurried mess of a conclusion. The motive is predictable but the fact that there's this whole other level at the ending- a final distrust, was actually pretty refreshing. I was also never really positive who the killer could be. Although I would mostly attribute this to the fact that there are just too many character's and red herrings for anyone to really figure it out. Let's just say I figured out half of it...
It may take me years to come to terms with my dislike for Fulci- but my love for Bava is slowly and steadily blooming. He is certainly the big daddy moose of beautiful Italian horror and may be the sole reason why I am so attracted to films like Suspiria and Deep Red. I guess Fulci can suck it, I'm on a Bava kick and I'm here to stay.