After her mother brutal murder at the hands of a hammer-wielding maniac, teenaged Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson) is suddenly orphaned. She is sent to a home for children run by the enigmatic Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame, 1952 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner for her role in The Bad and The Beautiful), in spite of the concern that Ellie will be the newest target of her mother killer. But as terror strikes again and again, it becomes unclear who might be the bigger threat to Ellie life: the mysterious murderer with a hammeror her sadistic new caretaker.
In the film, BLOOD AND LACE, we find teenager Ellie Masters after she is orphaned after her mother, a known prostitute, is brutally murdered, by a guy wielding a hammer. Ever since the event, Ellie has been haunted by nightmares of the murder, and in particular, the killer. When Ellie escapes the hospital in which she was housed, she is ordered by the state to go live at the Deere Mansion. After her husband Jameson passed away, Mrs. Deere, the owner of the house, transformed the mansion into a house for orphaned teens. However, she didn't just do so out of the kindness of her hurt, as she is rewarded monthly by the state on a per resident basis. So, what is she to do when a resident tries to leave? Use brutal force - that's what. Often the escaped teen is tracked and killed by Deere's trusty handyman, Tom - while they subsequently store the bodies in the freezer and the infirmary within the house. With such a grim secret, they couldn't dare let the word out. So when Ellie becomes curious of the goings-on at the house, both Mrs, Deere, and Tom put the pressure on her. However, it seems that the teen should be the least of their worries, when a mysterious killer appears. Wielding a hammer, and wearing a mask fashioned as burnt flesh, it would seem as though Ellie's mother's murderer has returned to finish her off, as well as anyone in their path.
Going into 1971's BLOOD AND LACE(on this print, it is called THE BLOOD SECRET), which was directed by Philip S, Gilbert, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had not seen it, and actually first confused it with Mario Bava's BLOOD AND BLACK LACE. It is not BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, in fact, some call it a precursor to the American Slasher boom of the late 70s and 80s. Now that I have seen the film, I can totally see why it has been called such, as there are many elements here that recall things that we would get in latter day slashers. It was the familiarity, that made BLOOD AND LACE an easy one to get into. The film even begins with the camera taking to POV, as we the viewer see what the killer sees, as he grips a hammer(Of course HALLOWEEN was obviously inspired. If they deny such, they are lying). But beyond the film's slasher element, BLOOD AND LACE, also bears the helpings of classic thriller and suspense, as it progresses. There are some twists and turns, with at least one of them not to be expected. There are some beautifully weird things about this film, however, in combination with its other elements, BLOOD AND LACE is one that is oddly entertaining and enjoyable. Yes things might leave you shaking your head, but at the end, it is part of the film's cult charm. I know that I probably enjoyed this one more than I probably should have.
Everyone who's a key player here, does pretty well, although the story may just be a little "out there". Melody Paterson, who portrays teenage Ellie Masters, is 70's hot(attractive), and gives a great performance as the troubled, and traumatized girl, as Gloria Grahame and Len Lesser, serve as her opposites, as they are "Mrs. Deere", and Tom Kredge, her handyman, while others include Milton Selzer as State official Mr.Mullins, and Vic Tayback as Detective "Calvin Carruthers". All do good in a film, which they had to have been aware that was somewhat absurd.
But absurd is definitely the key of all words here, as that is probably why I liked it so much, It has quite a few different aspects going on here, in which some of them are bizarre, while some of them are nicely on point. For instance, I can't say that I actually saw the film's final twist coming. While I will not say what it is here, I will say that it surprised me, as I thought it was a clever turn. I really liked this film. I thought it was great fun. However, that is only my opinion.
SHOUT! FACTORY/SCREAM! FACTORY states that is release marks the only time that BLOOD AND LACE has been released on any home video format. To the contrary, I do believe a bootleg DVD has been on the market for awhile now. But this is it's first OFFICIAL release they say. Well, whatever the case may be, the film looks fantastic here. The transfer looks great, with color and sharpness that pops. I was actually surprised at how well this looks, If you are in the least bit curious abut this, or if you happen to already enjoy it, pick it up. It looks, and sounds great. The release in additon to its great transfer also feaures a new audio commentary by Film Historian Richard Harland Smith, an alternate opening title sequence(baring the BLOOD AND LACE title), and the film's Theatrical Trailer.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
Surprisingly, I really liked BLOOD AND LACE. While i'm not exactly sure why, I just did. It has a nice mixture of retro 60s thriller, that means the type of Slasher that we would come to know some years later. Together, these two feels give the film a unique vibe. I like it, and was satisfied with its screwball outcome.
Special Features include :
- NEW Audio Commentary By Film Historian Richard Harland Smith
- Alternate Opening Title
- Theatrical Trailer