Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Blood and Black Lace – Arrow Video (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1964
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Marcello Fondato, Giuseppe Barilla, Mario Bava
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Ariana Gorini, Dante DiPaolo, Mary Arden, Franco Ressel, Claude Dantes, Luciano Pigozzi, Lea Lander, Massimo Righi, Francesca Ungaro, Giuliano Raffaelli

Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Approximate Running Time: 88 Minutes 39 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: $39.95

"The Cristian Haute Couture fashion house is a home to models... and backstabbing... and blackmail... and drug deals... and MURDER." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "The original camera negative was scanned in 2K resolution on a pin-registered Arriscan at Immagine Ritrovata, Bolgna. The film was graded on the Baselight grading system at Deluxe Restoration, London. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris and scratches were removed through a combination of digital restoration tools. Image stability was also improved."

Blood and Black Lace comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 43.8 GB

Feature: 25.7 GB

For this brand new 2K transfer, the film’s original camera negative was used, and the result is breath-taking. There has been extensive restoration work done that includes thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and light scratches. Other areas regarding this release's restoration, image stability, and density fluctuation have been improved upon with this release. Colors have never looked more vibrant, black and contrast levels look excellent, grain looks natural.

It should be noted that Blood and Black Lace has been released in the past in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and Arrow Video’s release frames it in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Though some may be disappointed by Arrow Video’s tighter framing, their restoration of the source material is vastly superior to every other home video release of Blood and Black Lace.

Audio: 4.5/5

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in English. Both audio mixes sound great. There are no issues with distortion or background noise. Range and clarity-wise, the differences between the two are minimal. Dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced. The film’s score sounds appropriately robust, and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented throughout. There are two subtitle options for this release. English subtitles for the Italian language track and English SDH subtitles for the English language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include Italian theatrical trailer (3 minutes 24 seconds, LPCM mono Italian with removable English subtitles), alternative U.S. opening credits (1 minute 56 seconds, LPCM mono), a panel discussion on Mario Bava featuring Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava and Steve Della Casa, recorded at the 2014 Courmayeur Film Festival (11 minutes 21 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), An Appreciation by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani who directed by Amer and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (10 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), a Giallo themed short film titled Yellow directed by Ryan Haysom (26 minutes 2 seconds, LPCM stereo), The Sinister Image: Cameron Mitchell – an episode of David Del Valle’s television series, devoted to the star of Blood and Black Lace and presented in full (56 minutes 25 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the giallo’s relationship with the social upheavals of the 1960s and 70s titled Gender and Giallo (38 minutes 1 second, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a documentary on Blood and Black Lace, and the origins of the giallo genre featuring interviews with directors Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, critics Roberto Curti and Steve Della Casa, and crime novelists Sandrone Dazieri and Carlo Lucarelli titled Psycho Analysis (55 minutes 8 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian and English with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, reversible cover art and a forty page booklet with cast & crew credits, an essay titled The Glamour House of Horror written by Howard Hughes, an essay titled Whodunnit? The Usual Suspects written by Howard Hughes, an interview titled Joe Dante Remembers The Genius of Mario Bava, an essay titled Bava’s Avenger written by David Del Valle, an essay titled Yellow: a Neo-Giallo written by Anton Bitel, a review for Yellow and information about the restoration/transfer.

Included as part of this combo release are two DVDs that have the same content as the Blu-ray. All of the content on the DVD is NTSC.

Summary:

The thing that immediately grabs you while watching Blood and Black Lace is its spectacular use of color. And this extraordinary use of color continues throughout, as he uses colors to evoke the mood of what is unfolding onscreen. With Blood and Black Lace’s murder set pieces being the prime example of just how potent colors can be in the grander scheme of things.

It should not come as a surprise that one of Blood and Black Lace’s most durable assets are its murder set pieces. which, for their time, were considered extremely brutal. With one death in particular taking center stage, that death would be the scene where the killer presses Peggy, one of the models, against a scolding hot furnace.

If the narrative gives you a feeling of déjà vu, it is because it would lay the groundwork for what is now known as a body count film. And from a pacing standpoint, there is never an issue as the narrative does a superb job of letting the moment of terror settle in before unveiling another shocking revelation. Also, when it comes to red herrings, Blood and Black Lace is arguably one of the best examples of keeping the killers' identity under wraps for as long as possible.

The cast all do well in their roles, with Cameron Mitchell (The Toolbox Murders, Silent Scream) delivering the most surprising performance as Max Marian, the manager of the fashion house where the first murder occurs. He gives an understated performance that perfectly suits the character he is portraying. Another performance of note is that of Eva Bartok (The Crimson Pirate) in the role of Contessa Cristina Como. She is the co-manager of the fashion house and Marian’s lover. She gives a superb performance that is in direct contrast to Mitchell’s. Also, the cast features several recognizable faces, like Mary Arden (Kriminal), Lea Lander (Rabid Dogs) and Dante DiPaolo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much).

Where Mario Bava’s previous Giallo, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, helped usher in a new era in regards to Italian-made thrillers. With his next Giallo, Blood and Black Lace, he would make such a quantum leap that there have been very few films that have even come close to scratching the surface of what Blood and Black Lace was able to achieve.

Over the years, Blood and Black Lace has had a lackluster history on home video. The previous best home video release was a German DVD from Anolis Entertainment that was released in 2003 and is now long OOP. This brings us to Arrow Video, who has done extensive work on the audio and video, ensuring that this is the best this film has ever looked and sounded on home video, and if that were not enough, there is a wealth of extra content included with this exceptional release.

Arrow Video gives Blood and Black Lace its best home video release to date. It comes with an immaculate transfer and a wealth of insightful extra content, recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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