DirectorPhilip S. Gilbert
Release Date(s)1971 (November 24, 2015)
Studio(s)American International Pictures/Orion Pictures/MGM/20th Century Fox (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
Blood and Lace was released by American International Pictures in 1971. Like many horror films, it fell into obscurity for many years but built a small cult audience, at least those who managed to see it. Previously unavailable officially on any previous home video format, Scream Factory is presenting it for the first time on both Blu-ray and DVD. Another victim of obscurity saved!
A bit of a giallo murder mystery, Blood and Lace tells the story of a young girl named Ellie (Melody Patterson) who, after her mother’s murder, is sent to live in an orphanage run by the mentally unbalanced Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame) and her handyman (Len Lesser). Unfortunately for Ellie, the person who murdered her mother might still be looking for her as she is the only witness. Luckily for Ellie, detective Carruthers (Vic Tayback) vows to make sure she’s kept safe, at any cost.
Blood and Lace is a very sleazy kind of horror movie. It’s not shot or edited particularly well, but it does employ some decent camera angles to help sell its tension. It’s also strange to see so many of the nighttime scenes shot day for night, as if it were something that wouldn’t be noticed. The movie was directed by Philip S. Gilbert, someone who seemed to make only one movie and disappear afterwards. Looking at the finished product, I can understand why. And it’s not that Blood and Lace is bad movie, but for an early slasher, it’s certainly confused as far as what it’s about.
And if you’re familiar with horror movies, there’s also a bit of slasher foreshadowing going on in the movie as well. The opening scene is extremely similar to the opening scene in Halloween and one of the characters is extremely similar-looking to Freddy Krueger. I doubt very highly that either John Carpenter or Wes Craven ripped the movie off in any capacity, but they’re certainly bizarre coincidences, especially for a movie as little seen as this one is. It also wouldn’t surprise me that the “hammer cam” used in the movie was stolen right out of Peeping Tom, but I digress.
Strange characters, strange situations, and odd music cues abound, Blood and Lace is a bit of an odd duck. It never totally succeeds at what it’s trying to do, despite some somewhat revolutionary ways of executing it - at least for its time. It probably won’t be remembered in the pantheon of horror movies and will probably act as little more than a footnote for those worked on it, but it’s an intriguing watch for genre fans who’ve been unable to see it. It’s also worth noting that Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of the movie carries the title card The Blood Secret, a working title for the movie that was never used.
The transfer found on this release is very clean and clear, although a tad bit on the soft side. It has a decent grain structure that’s fairly well-resolved, but given the movie’s low budget, there’s only so much that can be done with it. Despite the colors being slightly faded in several scenes, color reproduction is generally good with decent skin tones. Black levels are quite deep, sometimes with a bit of crush during actual nighttime scenes, while contrast levels are decent. However, I felt that the overall picture was a little too dark and could have been brightened up a bit more. There aren’t any signs of digital clean-up, but there are some very minor film artifacts leftover, such as black and white flecks and occasional minor tears. There are also some instability issues from time to time.
The audio, which is an English 2.0 DTS-HD track sourced from the original mono, is a very narrow-sounding soundtrack, with dynamics being practically nonexistent. Dialogue is always discernible, and both sound effects and the supposed library-sourced music cues come through well enough. It’s not a terrific sound experience, but it gets the job done. There are also subtitles in English for those who might need them. There also isn’t a ton of extra material, but there is a really good audio commentary with film historian Richard Harland Smith, as well as a snippet of the alternate opening title shot, the movie’s original theatrical trailer, and a DVD copy of the movie.
Blood and Lace, for all intents and purposes, kind of furthers the examination about which elements of the slasher subgenre came first and in which movie. It’s an endless debate amongst horror fans, but the good news is that this release exists at all, controversy or not. It’s a solid release and will probably serve fans fairly well.
- Tim Salmons