Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Gruesome Secret is Kept in Scream Factory's "Blood and Lace"

1971 forgotten cult classic “Blood and Lace” comes to Blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory. Originally titled “The Blood Secret,” what many would consider a precursor to the modern day slasher stars Vic Tayback (“Alice”), Len Lesser (“Seinfeld”), Gloria Grahame (“The Bad and the Beautiful”), and Melody Patterson (“The Cycle Savages”). All of these poor souls are caught up in a complex weaved tapestry of terror, lies, and murder orchestrated by Director Philip Gilbert and Writer Gil Lasky.

After her mother’s brutal murder at the hands of a hammer-wielding maniac, teenaged Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson) is suddenly orphaned in “Blood and Lace.” She is sent to a home for children run by the enigmatic Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame), in spite of the concern that Ellie will be the newest target of her mother’s killer. But as terror strikes again and again, it becomes unclear who might be the bigger threat to Ellie’s life: the mysterious murderer with a hammer… or her sadistic new caretaker.

Two of “Blood and Lace’s” many charms are its cinematography and sound effects. Director of Photography Paul Hipp utilizes a POV angle from the standpoint of a hand holding a hammer that is a unique view for audiences. Many cameramen and filmmakers adapted a similar style in dozens of slasher movies thereafter.

Sound is exploited to its fullest extent with loud shrills and bombastic musical crescendos that will pierce your eardrums and keep you on the edge of your seat. One scene shows a girl dying of thirst and someone torturing her by loudly gulping down a drink off-camera. Her swallowing sounds are magnified for the emotional impact.

One of the strangest moments for me was when I noticed that lead actor Melody Patterson appeared to be dubbed in the opening sequence of “Blood and Lace.” I kept thinking she reminded me of Sherman from the “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” cartoons. In the very next part, the sound and tone of her voice changed significantly. As I did research for my review, I found out actor June Foray voiced Patterson’s character at the beginning. Foray was famous for voicing Rocky the Squirrel in “Rocky and His Friends” and many other legendary individuals, creatures, and animals in cartoon history.

“Blood and Lace” is rated R for some violence. It also contains gore, profanity, and adult situations. A couple killing scenes are rather gruesome, but they’re minimized through the use of noticeably fake blood.

The bonus material for Scream Factory’s “Blood and Lace” Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack isn’t quite as thrilling as other titles they’ve debuted in high-definition. Commentary is provided by film historian Richard Harlan Smith. An alternate opening and theatrical trailer are included as well.

“Blood and Lace” is a wickedly entertaining B-movie that will remind modern viewers of “Psycho,” “Flowers in the Attic,” “House on Sorority Row,” and “Annie” if they were all rolled into one gritty mystery thriller. Imagine if the orphans from “Annie” were all grown up, but still lived together and were terrorized by a Miss Hannigan who has become more and more emotionally unsteady and homicidal over the years. Accompanied by a masterfully dramatic musical score that feels pieced together from several of the Universal classic monster movies from the 1930s and 1940s, we get a sinister little whodunit that will leave you in suspense to the surprising end.

“Blood and Lace” is available now in a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack.

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