Some cult movies suf­fer an iron­ic fate: they are easy to find on video in mul­ti­ple ver­sions from mul­ti­ple sources yet nev­er get an ide­al treat­ment. Mario Bava’s Blood And Black Lace is such a film, which has had more than one DVD edi­tion from VCI that nev­er quite man­aged to cap­ture the glo­ry of the film’s can­dy-col­ored look. Arrow Films has recent­ly thrown its hat in the ring with a blu-ray edi­tion of Blood And Black Lace and it’s a stun­ner.

Blood&BL-bluThe trans­fer used on this blu-ray was tak­en from orig­i­nal Italian neg­a­tive and the results are tru­ly eye-pop­ping. The bright pri­ma­ry col­ors used in the light­ing leap off the screen, the details are rich and the over­all qual­i­ty of the mas­ter­ing is impres­sive. No American edi­tion of this film can com­pare to Arrow’s release. Both English and Italian mono dubs are includ­ed in loss­less form for this trans­fer. Subtitles are pro­vid­ed for the lat­ter. Both sound great but Schlockmania rec­om­mends the Italian track for the most authen­tic expe­ri­ence.

Arrow has also done impres­sive work with the extras. First up is a new com­men­tary track from Video Watchdog pub­lish­er and Bava spe­cial­ist Tim Lucas. He puts his schol­ar­ship to good use here, dis­cussing the film in the con­text of how it rev­o­lu­tion­ized the gial­lo. Along the way, he offers mini-bios for the cast mem­bers, shares pro­duc­tion anec­dotes drawn from his inter­views with the cast and oth­er Bava asso­ciates, pro­vides some inter­est­ing analy­sis of Bava’s use of col­or and also con­fronts the issue of whether or not the direc­tor eroti­cizes female death in the film. The track is dense with Blood&BL-01infor­ma­tion but nice­ly struc­tured and paced, mak­ing it a worth­while lis­ten for any­one inter­est­ed in the direc­tor.

Next up is “Psycho Analysis,” a 55-min­ute ret­ro­spec­tive on Blood And Black Lace that includes inter­views with such nota­bles as crit­ic Roberto Curti, Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava. They dis­cuss how this film set the tem­plate for the gial­lo and make a case for Bava as a mas­ter styl­ist with a flair for iron­ic humor. They also touch on the film’s con­tro­ver­sial mix­ture of sex and vio­lence as well as how the gial­lo film allowed Italian film­mak­ers to cre­ate their own dis­tinc­tive vari­ant on the detec­tive sto­ry.

Blood&BL-pos3An appre­ci­a­tion of the film by gial­lo-influ­enced film­mak­ers Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani fol­lows. They dis­cuss their love of the fetishis­tic approach of this cin­e­mat­ic style and pay trib­ute to Bava. Along sim­i­lar lines, Ryan Haysom’s short film Yellow is includ­ed. It pays trib­ute to the gial­lo, with nods to Bava and Argento as well as Fulci thanks to a lit­tle New York Ripper-inspired splat­ter.

Gender And Giallo” is a video essay by Michael Mackenzie: essen­tial­ly, it is a thought­ful lec­ture on the tit­u­lar top­ic set to a well-edit­ed mix­ture of stills and film clips, some­times using mul­ti-pan­el imagery for the lat­ter. He ana­lyzes sev­er­al key exam­ples of the gial­lo, break­ing it down into two gen­der-ori­ent­ed vari­a­tions that have their own archey­pal ele­ments. He reveals the gial­lo film to be a vehi­cle that film­mak­ers used to express tBlood&BL-pos2heir unease about social change in Italy, par­tic­u­lar­ly in how it dealt with wom­en. The results are brainy but acces­si­ble, offer­ing fresh food for thought that pro­vides an ambi­tious new slant on sev­er­al clas­sic exam­ples of this Italian cin­e­ma style.

Blood And Bava” is a sound record­ing backed with some appro­pri­ate stills. It fea­tures Argento and Lamberto Bava pay­ing trib­ute to Mario Bava, with some nice tales about how he used his pho­to­graph­ic tal­ents to cre­ate sim­ple yet strik­ing visu­al effects for Argento’s Inferno. Fans of Cameron Mitchell will appre­ci­ate the inclu­sion of two episodes of David Del Valle’s Sinister Image inter­view show. Mitchell proves to be a gre­gar­i­ous sub­ject as he dis­cuss­es sev­er­al of his cred­its with Del Valle. Fans of Bava will appre­ci­ate the heart­felt trib­ute he gives to the direc­tor when Blood And Black Lace comes up.

Blood&BL-pos4The disc extras are round­ed out by the U.S. open­ing titles and an Italian trail­er. The for­mer was tak­en from Joe Dante’s 16mm print of the film. Though Bava didn’t cre­ate them, they fit sur­pris­ing­ly well with the film thanks to their col­ored-light­ing scheme and creepy use of man­nequins. The trail­er sells the film’s mix of melo­dra­ma and shocks nice­ly. English subs are includ­ed for this trail­er. The final touch is an exten­sive book­let full of lin­er notes by top gen­re jour­nal­ists like Howard Hughes, Alan Jones and Del Valle (his fond remem­brances of Cameron Mitchell are a nice inclu­sion).

In short, Arrow has done a great job with this set. If you’re a Bava stu­dent or inter­est­ed in Eurocult cin­e­ma in gen­er­al, this is well worth pick­ing up.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Blood And Black Lace, click here.

Note For U.S. Readers: Arrow intend­ed to release this in both the U.S. and the U.K. but the U.S. release was hung up by a rights dis­pute. It may be released here when this mat­ter is set­tled. However, it should be not­ed that the U.K. ver­sion can be played on both Region A and Region B play­ers some American fans may want to pick up an import copy.

Full Disclosure: this review was done using a check-disc blu-ray pro­vided by Arrow Video U.K. The disc used for the review reflects what buy­ers will see in the fin­ished blu-ray. A PDF of the lin­er notes was pro­vided by Arrow for this review.