Blood and Black Lace Sei donne per l’assassino

Mario Bava, Italy/France/West Germany, 1964, 35mm, colour, 1.85, 88′, in English


sei_donne_per_l_assassino_01 (2)Max Marian (Cameron Mitchell) and Contessa Christina Como (Eva Bartok) run a fashion house of a rather shady reputation. A masked killer who is trying to obtain a scandalous diary, containing the secrets of the agency’s financial improprieties, blackmail, affairs and drug addictions, is leaving a trail of gruesomely murdered young models in his wake.

Shot several years before the early thriller classics of Dario Argento and merely a year after the still restrained, black and white The Girl Who Knew Too Much (La ragazza che sapeva troppo, 1963), the seed of the genre, Blood and Black Lace is at once the origin, milestone and apex of the Italian giallo thriller, which singlehandedly established the standards and conventions of the indigenous genre: the striking, phantasmagorical colour scheme and the accumulation of marvellously inventive, surreal and stylized murders.

“The genre of the giallo started around the early 60s and I date it with a Mario Bava picture called The Girl Who Knew Too Much… It really reached its apotheosis with a movie he did called Blood and Black Lace. It was a very, very successful picture and it was extremely sadistic. It was probably one of the most violent movies released in America up to that time. It has fabulous murders, has a plot that just teeters on the edge of ridiculousness, but the camera work is fabulous.”
– Joe Dante
Blood and Black Lace was filmed with the most indulgent support – budgetary and aesthetic – that the director had yet received, as it was backed by an Italo-French-German triumvirate none too concerned with the effect the movie might have on impressionable American kids. It was here that the Italian giallo film was born, a full seven years before Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo, 1970) made these stylish murder thrillers a national pastime.”
– Tim Lucas, Fangoria
“He was good-natured, human and generous, and I never heard him say bad things about anyone. He was so humble, he didn’t have a great opinion about himself. One day, after telling me that he had shot a scene in which a woman’s face is pushed against a hot stove and you could hear and see the flesh burning and sizzling, he said: ‘Look, for three nights I’ve been having nightmares about that scene and I wake up moist with sweat in the middle of the night – even if it was just a fillet steak we used, after all!’
– Bruno Todini