Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960) and Black Sabbath (1963) were world wide commercial successes. As a consequence, Bava was given creative control over Blood and Black Lace. An Italian-West German co-production, the film’s backers were expecting a routine murderer-on-the-loose yarn in the Edgar Wallace-tradition. In Europe during the early 1960’s, movies based on the murder mystery novels of the incredibly prolific Wallace had become a mini-genre of their own. Forty or so of these movies were ultimately made, most of them produced in West Germany. Although some of the murder sequences could be vicious, the emphasis was on the police procedural and mystery aspects of the narrative.
But Bava was “bored by the mechanical nature of the whodunit” and decided to deemphasize the more accepted clichés of the genre. The stalk and kill sequences themselves were given more importance than all other concerns. He emphasized horror and sex in ways that had usually only been hinted at before. Inspired by Hitchcock’s Psycho, Bava made sure that all of his gorgeous victims were partially unclothed at the time of their deaths.
Under the working title of L’atelier della morte (The Fashion House of Death), the movie was filmed in a six-week period between November 1963 and January 1964, filmed at the Villa Pamphili on the Gianicolo, one of the Seven hills of Rome. The film’s budget was low, approximately $150,000. Bava was forced to improvise numerous times during the production in order to get the technical results he wanted. Cameron Mitchell noted that in order to film an impressive dolly shot through the fashion house, Bava simply placed the camera on a child’s red wagon. Similarly, Bava completed several crane shots by utilzing a “makeshift seesaw contraption.”
Language:Italian & English (commentary)
Subtitles: English (srt)