Blood and Black Lace (1964)

 
Directed by Mario Bava, Blood and Black Lace was one of the first giallo’s to be released, but not *the* first as my good friend Kat Ellinger over at http://thegoresplatteredcorner.com/ pointed out to me. I’ll be honest I wasn’t really a fan of some of Bava’s other work like Lisa and the Devil. However that being said Blood and Black Lace really did it for me. 

 
When a beautiful young model is murdered and her body found in a salon the finger is pointed at many who knew her. When her diary is later found it causes many to become worried, as they fear there may be something that could implicate them inside the diary. However has the bodies pile up, and more grisly murders take place, it’s clear there is something far more sinister at play. A masked maniac stalks the women, bumping them off one by one, with the police oblivious to who could be responsible. 

 
Director Mario Bava’s use of colour is extrordinary. They literally pop off the screen, with red being the most prevelant colour. The transfer from Arrow Video is nothing short of sublime. The blacks are rich and deep and the close ups of each actor are vibrant to say the least. It looks like a movie that was made last year and not 51 years ago. My only gripe is the music. Not that it’s terrible, because it isn’t. No, my issue is where it’s used in the movie. It’s far too upbeat to create any tension, so when it’s used in the stalking scenes, I just didn’t feel the tension I felt the director may have been trying to create. Though that really is all I can fault this movie for and that’s saying something. 
 
The acting is great and not at all hammy, like it can be in some Italian movies I’ve seen. The costume and set design is wonderful, and you really do wish you could just step into the movie just for one moment. This copy of Blood and Black Lace was generously provided by the folks at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/ and is available to purchase now. It’s available in a steelbook release or in a reversible sleeve jewel case. Personally I’d choose the sublime reversible sleeve with the beautiful Graham Humphreys artwork. 

5/5

JM

  

The Killers (1964)

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Charlie Storm (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) arrive at a school for the blind to kill Johnny North (John Cassavetes). Johnny is warned that the men are on there way up to kill him. Yet when Charlie and Lee enter Johnny’s room, Johnny just stands there and takes what’s coming to him. Later when Charlie and Lee are talking on a train, Charlie ponders on why Johnny didn’t run, saying “I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run. Why all of a sudden he’d rather die.”

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Charlie and Lee catch up with an old friend of Johnny’s called Earl, who tells them about a woman that caught Johnny’s eye some years ago. The woman is called Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson). Sheila got her hooks into Johnny and turned his head around. But all the time Sheila belonged to a man called Jack Browning (Ronald Regan, yes that one). The ploy was to eventually get Johnny to help Sheila and Jack on a heist to steal $1million dollars. Needing a professional driver to help in stealing the money, Sheila and Jack chose Johnny.

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As Charlie and Lee catch up with other people who knew Johnny, they begin to find out why Johnny decided not to run, and instead take the bullet. For me Lee Marvin is always watchable, in any film I’ve seen him in. The problem here however is he’s not in this enough. That’s mainly down to the flashback style of storytelling. Majority of the film consists of Angie Dickinson and John Cassavetes, who aren’t terrible, but I just didn’t find the movie was strongest when they occupied the screen. Ronald Regan is passable as Jack Browning, in his final screen role before entering politics. Clu Gulager is great as the over eager Lee, and Lee Marvin is solid as Charlie Storm. The film is not terrible by any means, however I just felt it lacked a little punch.

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Also I don’t get why it’s an 18’s. I can understand that for a movie made in the 60’s it may have been a tad strong, but the BBFC are always fond of reclassifying movies, and to be honest I’ve seen 15 rated movies with more violence than this. The transfer from Arrow Films is, as always, impeccable. I can’t comment on what it looks like on DVD, but the Blu Ray is stunning. Every frame is crisp and the colours just pop. The sound is also second to none. Arrow never let me down in terms of picture and sound, irrespective of the movie. The extras consist of interviews about Lee Marvin and Ronald Regan, and one with director Don Siegel which was filmed in 1984. Again as always they are informative and are a pleasure to watch. This copy of The Killers was provided by the fantastic folks over at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk. The film is due to be released on February 24th and you can head over to Arrow’s site to pre-order your copy now.

3/5

JM

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