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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

Blood and Lace  (1971)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2 Stars
(Release Date: November 24, 2015) – The one and only directorial credit of Philip S. Gilbert, "Blood and Lace" is a 1971 curiosity difficult to categorize into any one particular horror subgenre. Surely, there are moments that quite possibly were emulated by John Carpenter for 1978's slasher hallmark "Halloween" (the rough but ambitious opening scene, for example, isn't filmed as one shot, but nonetheless takes on the POV of the killer as he/she walks through a house, grabs a weapon from the kitchen drawer, and enters a bedroom to commit a grisly act of murder), but the crazy, nonsensical plot stands alone.

When her mother is brutally slain and her house subsequently set aflame, 18-year-old Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson) is sent to stay at an orphanage run by the delusional, abusive Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame). Mrs. Deere is a piece of work; she and handyman Tom (Len Lesser) maim, torture and/or tie up anyone who dares to try to run away, choosing to keep bodies in her basement freezer as a means of preservation until she can find a way to bring them back to life. Ellie is quick to figure out what is going on, but isn't exactly quick to leave as she nonchalantly takes an attempted rape in stride and continues to go on long, romantic afternoon walks with the studly Walter (Ronald Taft). Oh, and there is also a masked killer on the loose, though whether he is real or a post-traumatic figment of Ellie's imagination isn't initially clear. "Blood and Lace" is pure trashy silliness, but its bonkers story curves do provide a certain oddball allure. As for the film's title, why it is named "Blood and Lace" when there is no lace to be found is anyone's guess.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Blood and Lace" has never before been released on a home video format, which may explain why the print used for this 1080p transfer is in such great shape. Rarely looking like a nearly 45-year-old film, the image is largely clean, vibrantly clear, and exhibits impeccable image depth. There are the occasional age-related specks and a little noise in the opening nighttime shots, but by and large this is quite a strong picture with none of the color fading one often sees on older pictures. It is worth noting the print used has the film's alternate title up front, the more accurate "The Blood Secret." The DTS-HD Master Audio Mono may only be relegated to the front channels, but don't let that fool you; this is a superb track with a lively mix of sound effects, music (including, randomly, an xylophone) and dialogue. A sudden train horn comes across so vividly it startled me. A brief section (perhaps 20 seconds) of dialogue delivered by Len Lesser's Tom sounds slightly garbled in comparison to the rest of the track, but it clears up quickly.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with film historian Richard Harland Smith
  • Alternate Opening Title (0:18, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:52, HD)
Bottom Line
"Blood and Lace" is loony and creatively confused—is it a slasher movie? A psychodrama? A love story? A coming-of-age soap opera? A sci-fi flick about cryogenic freezing?—but this insanity at least keeps the viewer guessing as to what is going on, and how things are going to pan out. Scream Factory should be applauded for pulling this little-seen '70s oddity out of obscurity and giving it a visually pleasing premiere on Blu-ray. For those who think this all sounds too "good" to pass up, don't let it. Show the company your support so that they can continue to put out lesser-known titles such as this on the high-definition format. Recommended.

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© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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