Blood and Black Lace (Italian: Sei donne per l'assassino) is a 1964 Italian horror / thriller / Giallo film directed by Mario Bava, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Giusseppe Barilla and Marcello Fondato.
The film, starring Cameron Mitchell and Eva Bartok, concerns the stalking and brutal murder of several fashion models by a white-masked killer who is desperately attempting to recover the diary of Isabella, one of the models and the first victim, containing potentially scandalous information on the fashion house's various indiscretions, including forced abortions, blackmail, and drug addiction. It soon becomes a race against time as the diary changes hands repeatedly, separately pursued by the police investigating Isabella's murder, and the mysterious figure who is willing to kill to prevent its secrets from being revealed.
It is regarded as one of Bava's finest films and a shining example of what a Giallo is.
Blood and Black Lace contains examples of:
- Artistic License Biology: Tao-li is totally dead, Christina having drowned her in the bathtub, but when Christina slits Tao-li's wrists to make it look like suicide, somehow the bathtub fills with blood.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: The kills have been orchestrated by Max and Contessa Cristina.
- However, they both turn on each other after suspecting each other of betraying each other first and end up killing each other.
- The Blank: The killer wears a featureless white mask.
- Bookcase Passage: there's (inexplicably) one in the fashion studio.
- Clothing Damage: Nicole gets her dress torn off, revealing her bra, as she runs from the killer.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: a part of the standard Giallo villain fashion.
- Deadly Bath: How Tao-li dies.
- Drop Dead Gorgeous: Nicole, Peggy and Tao-li all die in varying states of undress and continue to be shown off in a sexual manner even after death. Isabella and Greta get to have their shapely, garter-belted thighs shown off as they're being smothered (Greta) or dragged off after having been strangled (Isabella).
- Ensemble Cast: there is no main protagonist. The story jumps around between the (quickly shrinking) group of people who work at the studio and Inspector Silvestri.
- Freudian Excuse: it's speculated by several characters that the killer is enraged by the sight of attractive women due to some form of sexual inadequacy.
- Giallo: A killer with black gloves, a mask, and a black trenchcoat slaughtering beautiful women, mountains of Fanservice, enough plot twists to baffle Hitchcock, and a useless detective on the case, all set against disturbingly gorgeous scenery shot in eye-searing Technicolor. Blood and Black Lace is effectively the prototypical Giallo film, bringing together all the narrative and stylistic elements that define the genre.
- Kill Em All: Every major character including the killers are dead at the end of the film except for the useless detective.
- MacGuffin: The diary.
- Mood Lighting: seemingly every room in the film is lit with surreal, unnatural pools of red, blue, yellow, purple, and green light. Franco's antiques shop is next door to a huge neon sign that flashes on and off every few seconds, causing a pattern of pitch blackness and blue lighting that basically serves as Hollywood Darkness.
- Never Suicide: Tao-Li's death is arranged to look like a suicide. we never find out if the police fell for it or not.
- Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Isabella turns up in a cabinet in the fashion studio. Peggy turns up in the trunk of Greta's car.
- Police are Useless: The main detective is no closer to solving the case the last time we see him than he is when we first meet him — he spends his screen time generally working in the right direction, but not pressing hard enough.
- Punk in the Trunk: Greta is unpleasantly surprised when she opens the trunk of her car and Peggy's corpse falls out.
- Slasher Movie
- Soundtrack Dissonance: a movie about a masked killer butchering woman, set to...lounge jazz?
- Trope Codifier: For the Giallo genre. It wasn't the first film to feature all the main narrative elements, but it was the first to combine them all in color and with the level of sexuality and graphic bloodshed the genre would come to be known for.
- Vehicle Vanish: The purse with the very important diary is sitting on a table. Some people bring a rack full of clothes by. When they pass, the purse is gone.
- Vorpal Pillow: In true Vorpal Pillow fashion, it takes about ten seconds for the killer to smother Greta to death with a cushion.
- White Mask of Doom: The killer wears a white mask that covers the entire face.
- Yellowface: Claude Dantes wearing a Romulan-esque haircut and a ton of eyeliner to play the supposedly Chinese Tao-li.