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

  

Formula for a Murder (1985)

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Joanna (Christina Nagy) is a wealthy philanthropist who was confined to a wheelchair after suffering an attack at the hands of a psychotic person dressed as a priest when she was a girl. She spends most of her time at her centre for paraplegics which she owns. She meets a handsome trainer at the centre called Craig (David Warbeck) and they enter into a whirlwind romance, where Craig proposes.

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Craig however has other plans, which is actually touched on very early on in the movie. His intention is to scare Joanna to death so that he can get his hand on her money, and he is prepared to gruesomely dispatch anyone that should get in his way. Though Craig’s motive is revealed quite early on, there is still plenty of suspense and some fantastically bloodthirsty deaths. For some strange reason David Warbeck’s voice has been dubbed over by some random American actor, which is sad as I really like David’s voice. However it does nothing to really dampen the film, which is right up there with some of the other well known giallo’s.

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The camera work is done really well, with some great POV shots. I love that it uses some of the music from The New York Ripper, and has usual giallo nods like the killer wearing black leather gloves. It’s also refreshing to see David Warbeck play the villain, and he does so with oozes of charisma. I must say Shameless Films have done a wonderful job in terms of restoration on what was long feared to be a lost movie.

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There supporting roles are filled quite admirably, but this film really belongs to David Warbeck and Christina Nagy, who really get into their roles and deliver some fantastic performances. This copy of Formula for a Murder was provided by the wonderfully generous folks over at http://www.shameless-films.com. The movie is now available to buy and you can do so directly from the Shameless Films website. Its’ well worth getting a copy which also comes with your very own yellow mac, should you decide to go on a murderous spree of your own….I jest of course.

4/5

JM

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Dressed To Kill (1980)

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Released in cinema’s in July 1980, Dressed To Kill was the third movie that Brian De Palma and then wife Nancy Allen made together, the first two being ‘Carrie’ and ‘Home Movies’. They would go onto make one more movie together (Blow Out, which is also available from ArrowFilms&Video). The plot involves a tall blonde woman who murders one of Michael Caine’s patients. She then sets out to murder the call girl who witnessed the first murder.

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I’ll be honest I wasn’t totally sold on the movie at first, but it grew on me. The opening shower scene had me cringing slightly as it had a very seedy, soft core porn feel to it, which didn’t fit in well with the movie for me. All actors and actresses play their parts well. Angie Dickinson is good as the sexually frustrated housewife, who is also a patient of Michael Caine’s psychiatrist. The son played by Keith Gordon is also good in his role. Eagle eyed horror aficionados may recognise him from John Carpenter’s ‘Christine’. Nancy Allen is good as the call girl who witnesses the grisly murder and Dennis Franz from N.Y.P.D Blue fame is also good as the sleazy cop investigating the murder.

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The violence was handled well, it had a very ‘Dario Argento’ feel to it, felt like I was watching an Italian giallo movie. However some attempts to instill moments of suspense were handled a bit sloppily for my tastes, particularly towards the closing parts of the movie. Other than the cringeworthy opening scene, and the aforementioned attempts at suspense, I found Dressed To Kill a joy to watch and one I would welcome in my collection at any time.

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The review copy was graciously provided by the very kind folks over at www.facebook.com/ArrowVid. You can order your own copy of Dressed To Kill from www.arrowfilms.co.uk

4/5

JM

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