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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Blood And Lace (Blu-ray)
Blood And Lace (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // R // November 24, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted November 16, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
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The Movie:

The only known directorial effort for one Philip S. Gilbert, 1971's Blood And Lace opens with a pretty unforgettable scene where a prostitute named Edna Masters (Louise Sherrill) is, along with her john, murdered in bed by a maniac wielding a hammer. Once that murder is finished, the killer torches the house and splits the scene, leaving Edna's teenaged daughter Ellie (Melody Patterson) orphaned and placed in a home under the advice of a social worker named Harold Mullins (Milton Selzer).

The orphanage itself is run by the rather cruel Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame) and her hard drinking caretaker, Tom Kredge (Len Lesser). As you'd imagine, it's not often that these two appear to have their wards' best interests at heart, which has led to multiple escape attempts, all of which have seen the would be escapees turn up dead. Ellie's arrival seems especially well timed in that no sooner has she arrived than things really start hitting the fan at the orphanage and soon enough kids start disappearing. You'd think the presence of a cop named Calvin Carruthers (Vic Tayback), tasked with investigating Edna's death, would help bring Ellie some small amount of peace but it's almost like Calvin cares too much for the pretty teenage girl. Complicating matters further for poor Ellie is her roommate, the catty Bunch (Terri Messina). The girls don't get along so well and it would appear that the only saving grace in Ellie's life these days is a kind and handsome boy she meets named Walter (Ronald Taft).

And yet despite all of this internal conflict, drama, sadism and horror Ellie can't stop with the nightmares, a recurring dream about a maniac wielding a hammer… and then she spots them man in the mask.

This low budget mix of exploitation and horror is pretty entertaining stuff. Fast paced and sleazy, it's a dark film filled with awful people doing awful things to one another but it actually infers more than it really shows. It works though. The imagination is powerful enough that, when pulled into a story as we are here, it can do the dirty work on the filmmakers' behalf. Not to say that there isn't some carnage and bloodshed, because there is (far more than you'd think given the film's initial PG rating!), but this is hardly a gore-fest. The opening murder, interesting in that it shows us everything from the killer's point of view and is basically shot ‘first person' style, is pretty intense stuff and it does a great job of setting the tone for the rest of the movie.

The performances are pretty good here. Melody Patterson is quite good here as the female lead (though there's one early line where she's quite clearly dubbed that sticks out, the commentary addresses that). It's easy to sympathize with her, she's had a rough life what with her mother turning tricks for a living and not really knowing who her father is. Getting tossed into an orphanage, particularly one as harrowing as seen in this film, would be terrible to have to deal with and given that Ellie is a nice person, we have no trouble at all feeling for her. Of course, once she's earned our sympathies the movie proceeds to play off of that by putting her into one dangerous situation after another, but Patterson handles it well. Gloria Grahame does a great job in her role as the sadistic matron of the orphanage. She treats the kids horribly but as far as her acting goes, Grahame is clearly committed to the part and she's pretty damn convincing here. Vic Tayback is, as he's supposed to be, more than a little creepy as the cop in charge of the case. He's clearly got lecherous intentions towards lovely young Ellie and his body language and the way in which he delivers certain lines, it makes those intentions pretty obvious.

Fast paced, dark, grizzly and fairly sordid, Blood And Lace is nicely shot, makes great use of some pretty authentic looking locations and features an interesting cast. Add to this a really odd atmosphere that permeates through pretty much the entire movie and this one makes for nice entertainment aimed at the drive-in/horror crowd.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Blood And Lace makes its home video debut in North American thanks to this Blu-ray from Scream Factory, which is framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This is a fairly grainy presentation but not to the point of distraction, rather it's nice and film-like. There's very little in the way of actual print damage here outside of some occasional white specks while color reproduction is typically quite good. Skin tones look nice and realistic and black levels are decent too. Detail is pretty strong throughout and the picture has good contrast and depth to it. All in all, fans should be quite pleased with how this as turned out as there are no obvious compression artifacts nor is there any obvious edge enhancement.

Sound:

The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with optional subtitles provided in English only. The audio quality here is fine, if a little limited in range as you might expect from an older low budget feature with a mono mix. Clarity is good, balance is fine and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. There are a few spots where the score demonstrates more depth than you might expect. No problems here. This isn't an especially fancy mix but it gets the job done well enough.

Extras:

The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary track with Richard Harland Smith, who notes some interesting similarities in the opening credits between this picture and Carpenter's original Halloween before then going on to offer up a talk that is a nice mix of critical analysis and history. He shares some pretty interesting facts about the different cast members that appear in the film and also makes some observations about their performances in addition to discussing the director's mysterious history, some of the locations used in the movie and quite a bit more.

Outside of that we get an alternate title sequence, the film's original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. It's also worth noting that Scream Factory have provided some nice reversible cover art for this release. As this is a combo pack release a DVD version of the movie with identical supplements is also included inside the Blu-ray case.

Final Thoughts:

Blood And Lace doesn't get a super deluxe loaded special edition but the very fact that it's out on Blu-ray alone is enough for some of us to rejoice. The commentary is a good one, offering up the right mix of historical and critical insight, and the presentation here is quite nice. As to the movie itself? It's great to be able see it after hearing about it for so long and the movie delivers a nice combination of horror and exploitation elements. Great, trashy entertainment. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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