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VCI Tackles Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace In A New Transfer
Mario Bava’s giallo classic receives yet another home video release on Blu-ray, this time courtesy of VCI Entertainment. Blood and Black Lace remains a stylish Italian thriller revered by filmmakers and vintage genre fans. The 1964 giallo stars Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Ariana Gorini, and Dante DiPaolo.
For more, read DoBlu’s previous review of Arrow Video’s Blu-ray.
VCI Entertainment has struck a different film transfer for Bava’s Blood and Black Lace. It is a 2K film scan from respectable elements in excellent condition. VCI’s color timing isn’t as aggressive with its contrast or highlights compared to Arrow Video’s disc, preferring a more muted palette. Its darker tone and generally muddier colors probably resemble more closely how Blood and Black Lace looked upon theatrical release than Arrow’s more modern, revisionist presentation.
The critical difference between the differing film transfers being the 1.85:1 framing that some may find more appropriate for the cult classic than Arrow’s 1.66:1 presentation. The framing of VCI’s first reel appears to be cropped to 1.85:1 from Arrow’s 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The rest of the film reveals more information on the sides than Arrow’s transfer. Many sources indicate that 1.85:1 was likely the intended aspect ratio for Blood and Black Lace. It’s not conclusive but some believe that both presentations have their merits.
Everything else being equal, Arrow’s transfer offers sharper definition and pulls out far more detail than this VCI effort. That is not to say the VCI Blu-ray looks terrible. Some mild processing has been used. However, it’s a mostly film-like presentation with more natural flesh-tones.
The color palette in Arrow’s transfer is more saturated and vibrant, especially primary colors. The strong AVC encode by VCI does a fine job handling the erratic grain structure, using the BD-50 to maximum capacity. The video is definitely softer with less dimensionality, possibly from lesser film elements. The colors certainly pop more on the Arrow Video disc.
If you are a stickler for the “correct” aspect ratio, VCI Entertainment is the way to go on Blood and Black Lace. For all other considerations, Arrow Video’s transfer does a better job delivering a great presentation at 1080P resolution.
Blood and Black Lace has never sounded particularly good on home video. VCI Entertainment has included the thin, flat-sounding English dub in 2.0 PCM. There are limitations to the recording’s fidelity, including a dull monaural mix. Dialogue is adequately intelligible and fares better than the musical score by Carlo Rustichelli. The score strains in the upper frequencies, introducing audible distortions. This is serviceable audio at best for such a classic giallo.
Optional English and Spanish subtitles play in a white font.
VCI Entertainment provides two new commentaries for Blood And Black Lace, already seeing its sixth Blu-ray release across the globe. The movie already saw a loaded Blu-ray set from Arrow Video that earned high marks for its special features. Each one has exclusive special features.
The Blu-ray and DVD combo set comes in a clear case with reversible artwork.
2018 Audio Commentary by Kat Ellinger – The editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine gives this new solo commentary on the giallo, incorporating her extensive knowledge of horror film history. The discussion is loose and strays from topic to topic.
2018 Audio Commentary by film historian David Del Valle & filmmaker C. Courtney Joyner – This enjoyable, new commentary raises some interesting points about the fashion world and how that impacted Bava’s movie. David Del Valle has become a regular contributor on VCI’s releases and he always brings a flowing, grounded conversational style that perfectly fits genre films. This is the better commentary of the two.
American Cut vs European Cut (27:31 in HD) – A comparison between the different footage used in the alternate cuts. There is no context provided or analysis of the differences.
Photo Gallery (05:38 in HD) – One of the longer photo galleries I’ve seen includes dozens of promotional posters and other archival shots.
Musical Soundtrack Cues by Carlo Rustichelli (07:27)
Blood And Black Lace Italian Theatrical Trailer (03:21 in HD) – Presented in Italian audio.
American Titles (01:53 in HD)
David Del Valle Interview with Cameron Mitchell (7:25 in SD) – Archival featurette found only on the DVD.
Interview with actress Mary Dawne Arden (12:10 in SD) – Archival featurette found only on the DVD.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray release was provided to us for review by the label. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu’s editorial policies.
Blood and Black Lace
Mario Bava’s indelible and influential giallo Blood and Black Lace remains a standard in the genre to this day.
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