Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key

"What did Irina tell you? That she shares her bed with a crazy alcoholic murderer?"

Irina Rouvigny (Anita Strinberg) has a rough life. Her unloving husband Olivero (Luigi Pistilli) is a failed writer with an Oedipal complex who drinks too much, sleeps around, and parties every night with the hippies from the local campgrounds. She lives in a crumbling mansion and even the cat, Satan, seems to have it in for her. When Olivero's young mistress and then the maid turn up dead, Irina suspects her husband, but still helps him cover up the crimes, hiding bodies in the cellar. Things get more complicated when Olivero's hot-blooded niece, Floriana (Edwige Fenech) shows up for an extended visit. Floriana proceeds to seduce Irina and her own uncle (plus a young motorcycle racer), taking both sides and plotting with each to kill the other. But who is playing who in this game of cat and mouse?

The story is based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat," (though very loosely) and he even gets a screenwriting credit.  Anita Strinberg gets all my respect for heavily downplaying her beauty for this role. For most of the movie she looks like a strung-out Ann-Margaret. Also, let's address the dozens of flash-cuts of the cat's eyes (or "eye" after Irina gouges one out).  
  • Edwige Fenech made this movie the same year as The Case of the Bloody Iris and her range between the two movies is amazing. Here, she's a young, self-assured schemer in complete control of everything while in Iris, she plays a shy, nervous, more mature woman lost in victimhood.
  • In the film, Olivero shuts himself in his study writing and Irina later sees that he has been typing the same psychotic phrase over and over for page after page: "Kill her and hide her in the cellar wall." Sound familiar? Note that this movie came out five years before Stephen King published The Shining and eight years before Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation.
  • As one YouTube commenter writes, one could easily turn the flash-cuts of the cat's eyes into a drinking game. You'd be drunk before you know it.
  • The title has nothing to do with this film, but it does come from an earlier Martino-Fenech collaboration. The phrase "Your vice is a locked room and only I have the key" appears in a note from the killer in The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh (a.k.a. Blade of the Ripper).

What the Hell Am I Watching?
The craziest scene in the movie is right at the beginning. Drunk, angry Olivero gets his party guests to dump their drinks into a bowl and humiliates his wife by forcing her to drink it.  Then he sexually harasses the maid as the party guests sing a creepy, taunting song and one young woman strips naked and dances on the table. This scene effectively sets up the creepy atmosphere of the film.

Fashion Moment
There's not much glamor to report here, since the characters are a bunch of downward-spiraling depressives.  All the women try on Olivero's mother's 18th Century costume at some point and that's the nicest article of clothing in the film.

You'll Die At Midnight

You'll Die at Midnight

"Normally the murderer, after the homicidal rage, would surrender."

After police detective Nicola Levi (Leonardo Treviglio) has a vicious fight with his wife, Sara (Barbara Scoppa) he leaves their apartment to cool off, only to discover later that she has been murdered in his absence. It turns out that Sara's murder was committed in the style of notorious serial killer Franco Tribbo, who died in a mysterious fire years ago. Nicola's friend, criminal psychologist Anna Berardi (Valeria D'Obici), is eager to help – partly to aid her friend and partly because she has always been strangely fascinated by the Tribbo case.  Did Franco Tribbo really die all those years ago? Or has his ghost returned to stalk the women of this quiet seaside village? Anna gets help from her graduate students at the local university as well as handsome Inspector Pietro Terzi (Paolo Malco). But as they get closer to the truth, the bodies keep piling up.

You'll Die at Midnight (not to be confused with Death Stalks at Midnight) is the work of director Lamberto Bava , the son of giallo pioneer Mario Bava and protegee of Dario Argento.  The younger Bava is a perennial film student and in this movie he borrows or makes reference to a lot of other, better films. If you look closely, you can find references to Psycho, Four Flies on Gray Velvet, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, The Shining, Halloween, and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, just to name a few. And these references range from subtle use of props and locations to full-on shot-for-shot re-makes and brazenly copied plot elements. Which isn't to say that You'll Die at Midnight isn't effective. By 1986 the traditional giallo was dying away because audiences preferred the bloodier thrills of slasher flicks. I'd like to think that Lamberto was trying to make a slasher-like giallo full of these references, to remind people about all the classic films that inspired him.
  • One of the many things Lamberto Bava borrows from Argento is Claudio Simonetti, Argento's longtime composer, who is sometimes credited along with his band, Goblin.
  • The village is beautiful and I have to wonder where this movie was filmed. It's a bustling, youthful seaside town with a university and a large natural history museum, but it has the Medieval architecture of a tiny, ancient city. Be careful, though – the fog can roll in quickly and unexpectedly.
  • None of the various titles make any sense. But then again, who would see a movie called You'll Die Around Mid-Afternoon Between Three and Five PM?
  • Actually, the title may be a reference to the 1971 giallo The Man With Icy Eyes, in which  Antonio Sabato and Barbara Bouchet receive threatening notes reading "You'll die at midnight."
What the Hell am I Watching?

During the fight with Sara, Nicola is stabbed in the shoulder with an ice pick, about two inches deep. We're talking serious muscle and nerve damage here and he just walks it off like it's nothing. A little gauze does the trick.

Clearly, Italian hospitals need better security, if anyone can walk in off the street and look up confidential patient files.

You know things are going to get good when Anna's three female grad students move into a large abandoned hotel to finish their thesis papers.

One of my favorite scenes was in the hotel kitchen. The killer attacks Monica (Eliann Miglio) with a knife and she fends him off with a hand mixer... until the cord pops out of the wall. You know that's how the circular saw scene from My Dear Killer should have gone.

 Fashion Moment


Lamberto Bava loves to drop visual clues to the identity of the killer throughout the movie and You'll Die at Midnight has a prime example.  Here's Nicola's apartment, the site of the first murder. Note the white decor with neon yellow accents:

Now here's an outfit Anna wears a few days later. Notice how her clothes tie her to the crime scene:

In fact, her outfits become darker and darker thoughout the film, but the yellow accents remain a constant motif:

In this shot, Carol has just had an encounter with the killer and is now wearing yellow to indicate her connection. Remember that the Italian word for "yellow" is... "giallo."


Mind. Blown.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

"What's happening to me? This damn thing is turning into an obsession."

Sam Dalmas (Tony Mustane), an American living in Italy, is walking home one dark night when he sees two figures struggling inside a brightly-lit modern art gallery. He is able to scare off the shadowy attacker, but the victim, gallery owner Monica Ranieri (Eva Renzi) is badly wounded. Sam tells the police what he saw, but he can't shake the notion that one detail is missing – one important clue that could change everything. He becomes fixated and, with the help of his girlfriend Julia (Suzy Kendall) begins investigating the three other murders attributed to the attacker. The trail leads him to a reclusive painter, a stuttering pimp, and a rare Russian bird, but the closer he gets, the more danger he is in, as the killer tries to make Sam the next victim.

Director Dario Argento burst onto the Italian movie scene in 1970 with this incredible feature – one of the finest gialli ever made. We see that from the beginning of his career, Argento's talent was to take the predictable conventions of the genre and turn them on their head. Brightly-lit scenes can be as scary as shadows and darkness, ultra-modern settings can be as eerie as gothic mansions, and modern technology and scientific methods can take the place of old-fashioned sleuthing. Plus, the script is peppered with great little character moments and some very clever mis-directs. There are several great suspenseful moments of dramatic irony where the audience discovers a clue before the characters see it. If The Bird With the Crystal Plumage were better-known among mainstream audiences in the U.S., I think it would rank high on lists of the best twist endings in movie history, along with The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects, and The Sting.

Another enormous influence on early Argento films (and especially this one) is Michaelangelo Antonioni's 1966 art film Blow Up, in which a fashion photographer (Deep Red's David Hemmings) slowly realizes that he inadvertently witnessed a murder. While this basic plot can be seen reflected in Crystal Plumage (and several subsequent Argento scripts), it's Antonioni's stylish direction, modern flair, and cool hipster characters that Argento really took to heart. Perhaps The Bird With the Crystal Plumage could be seen as a synthesis of Mario Bava's classic structure with Antonioni's ultra-modern sense of style.

  • Legendary composer Ennio Moriccone composed the jazzy, noisy, avant-garde score. Cues from this score can be heard in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof and Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell.
  • Near the beginning, Sam is startled by an old lady in the street. That old lady is Maria Tedeschi, who would go on to play scowly Mrs. Moss in The Case of the Bloody Iris.
  • A work of art holding a major clue in the case is a theme that would re-appear in a lot of Argento's films, including Deep Red, Four Flies on Gray Velvet, and Susperia.
  • In regards to the tally above, it should be noted that three of the murders and one attempted murder occur before the action of the movie starts.
  • Argento's whole approach to the giallo was so startlingly new and exciting that it has been copied over and over by successive film makers. Many of them bow to the master with a similarly wordy title involving an animal, an adjective, and a body part.  Some such films include The Cat with the Jade Eyes, The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire, and The Black Belly of the Tarantula. Argento's own follow-up, Cat O'Nine Tails, also follows this trend.

What the Hell am I Watching?
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage seems to be about breaking with the conventions of thriller cinema, which include dark houses, helpless women, and black cats. I think maybe Sam is literally destroying the conventions when he is tricked into eating cat stew.

Fashion Moment
I covet Sam's brown leather jacket, but I have to give it up to costume designer Dario Micheli for putting the hit man in a windbreaker of bright yellow (or in Italian, giallo). He's literally an asassino giallo (a "yellow killer" or a "giallo killer") in every sense. It may not be practical, but it sure is stylish. And it's a great wink to the audience.

Short Night of the Glass Dolls

Short Night of the Glass Dolls

"There are both good and evil in crime... they're not separate."

Gregory Moore (Jean Sorel) is an American journalist in Soviet Prague who finds himself on a slab in the morgue – paralyzed and fully conscious, but pronounced dead. As he lies helpless, Greg recounts the mysterious events of recent days: His girlfriend Mira (Barbara Bach) disappeared without a trace after a fancy cocktail party, leaving behind all of her clothes and her passport. Greg and his colleagues Jessica (Ingrid Thulin) and Ivan (Relja Basic) set out to find her, questioning the city's corrupt elite. They soon discover that Mira's disappearance is one of many, linked to a dark conspiracy hidden within the walls of an exclusive chamber music society. Can Greg piece together the clues? And will he recover from his paralysis before doctors can perform a lethal autopsy?

Short Night of the Glass Dolls (not to be confused with Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll) has a really ingenious hook – the main character is actually trying to solve his own murder. And because he is paralyzed and flashing back to the events, it's still a somewhat plausible scenario, where his recovery is a possibility. The city of Prague provides a heavy, almost claustrophobic atmosphere for the film and there are some really well-staged scenes. My favorites include the train-bridge scene, where the murderer is hidden behind a well-timed plume of smoke and the intense final five minutes.
  • Ennio Morricone's score is reminiscent of the dramatic, dissonant work of Krystof Penderecki, with looming strings instead of his usual noisy, funky bop.
  • Ingrid Thulin, who appeared in some of Ingmar Bergman's most acclaimed films like Wild Strawberries and Cries and Whispers, is really slumming here.
  • The structure of the movie, with a main character narrating from the morgue, is reminiscent of Billy Wilder's film noir classic Sunset Boulevard.

What the Hell Am I Watching?

Um... Satanic naked geriatric sex orgy? And, man, those oldies are not shy about it.

No one ever alludes to the fact that Ivan, the Czech reporter, speaks with a thick Scottish burr.

Let's talk about Ivan's hippie girlfriend, who is so stoned when we first meet her that she doesn't realize that Ivan is groping her while telling Greg what a stupid slut she is.

Just as the action starts to amp up, everything comes to a screeching halt for a musical number, "Short Night of the Butterflies."  It's a bright, happy tune sung by a hippie street performer, with lyrics about blood raining from the sky and butterflies getting their wings cut off.

One of my favorite parts is at a concert, where the soloist stops in what is clearly the middle of the piece, stands up, and walks away from the piano. What is going on in this movie?

Also: apparently, tomatoes feel pain.

Fashion Moment 

Greg rocks an awesome string bow tie at the cocktail party. And check out that piping.

But the real fashion winner is Jessica, who stands out from the crowd in her purple velvet pantsuit with matching Gypsy head scarf.

The Fifth Cord

The Fifth Cord

"When I drink I forget things. It makes life much easier."

Andrea Bild (Franco Nero) is an alcoholic reporter with a troubled personal life, who finds that he is a suspect with no alibi when his enemies and acquaintances start turning up dead. But who would try to frame him? At the scene of each crime, the killer leaves a glove with a successive number of fingers cut off – counting down the number of murders he plans on committing. Now, Andrea must find a connection between the attacks, discover the murderer, and clear his name.

Franco Nero may get top billing in The Fifth Cord, but the real star of this film is cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The Fifth Cord is not only one of the most beautifully-shot gialli ever, but it stands up against some of the greatest cinematography of all time. Storaro would go on to win three Academy Awards for his work on Reds, Apocalypse Now, and The Last Emperor. Though The Fifth Cord is available on YouTube, do yourself a favor and watch it on a big screen on DVD instead, to take in the astonishing beauty of Storaro's artistry.  It's a shame, however, that the sub-par script with its anticlimactic, cop-out ending doesn't meet the same standards as the cinematography.

  • Franco Nero is most famous as the star of gritty Westerns and especially for the iconic role of Django. He is also famous for being Vanessa Redgrave's husband and her co-star in the romantic comedy Letters to Juliet.
  • You will never see more spiral staircases in a movie than in The Fifth Cord
  • The title "sort of makes sense" because it refers to the five fingers being cut off the gloves at the crime scenes. I'm not sure if it's a bad translation or what. The original Italian title, Giornata Nera Per L'Ariete ("Black Day For the Ram") sort of gives away a third act plot point.

What the Hell am I Watching?

The Fifth Cord is a slow, steadily-paced movie with no big surprises. Except maybe the scene where Andrea follows a suspect to a live sex show. Or the shot of sweaty, exhausted Andrea chugging a bottle of J&B while driving down the road at night. Tell you what: not to keep harping on this, but  the jaw-dropping camera work is the most astonishing thing about this movie. Let's enjoy:

 Fashion Moment:

Beige trench coats.

Lots and lots of beige trench coats.

Ohmygod.  Beige trench coats.

Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll

Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll

"Listen... I advise you not to get any ideas about my sisters."

Gilles (Paul Naschy) is a drifter and an ex-con haunted by visions of strangling women, who finds work as the caretaker of a secluded old estate owned by three sisters. Claude (Diana Lorys) hides mysterious scars and wears a prosthetic hand; hot-blooded sexpot Nicole (Eva Leon) is the youngest; Ivette (Maria Perschy), is beautiful, but confined to a wheelchair. Ivette's new nurse Michele (Inés Morales) is a substitute and we soon learn why – the regular nurse was murdered on her way to the estate. By night there's a lot of bed-hopping. Nicole seduces Gilles, Gilles seduces Claude, Nicole throws herself at Ivette's doctor, and Gilles attempts to rape Michelle. Meanwhile, the killer keeps striking, murdering pretty young girls of the village and gouging out their eyeballs. Gilles has a history of violence, but is he the murderer? Could Michelle be responsible? Or is it the disgruntled previous caretaker? Perhaps one of the secretive sisters is hiding something from her past that holds an important clue.

Believe it or not, the title Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll actually does make sense in a metaphorical way, though it's not entirely apparent until the final moments of the film. This is a pretty good giallo, with all the sexy scenes in the first half hour, followed by a quick succession of murders in the last half using some creative murder implements. It relies heavily on the traditions of Gothic horror, set mainly in a dark Victorian mansion in a small town populated by suspicious, fearful villagers. But while there's a decent twist ending, there are more questions raised than answers.

  • Be warned: there is a gruesome, gratuitous scene of villagers slaughtering a live pig. This is not staged and they didn't use a puppet. The pig squeals a lot. It is very disturbing.
  • The movie was shot outside Madrid, but at the beginning of the movie, someone clearly states that we're in Perú.  However, everything else indicates that the movie is set in rural France: all the characters have French names, the local bar takes Francs, the police inspector wears a French uniform, and the song "Frere Jaques" is a recurring motif.
  • Near the end of the movie, Michele appears in a bright red raincoat, running through the woods at night. Perhaps this is an homage to the opening scenes of Blood and Black Lace?
  • The camera crew can clearly be seen in a mirror in the final minutes of the movie.
 What the Hell Am I Watching?

This movie has the weirdest musical cues ever. Aside from "Frere Jacques" (which can be quite creepy in the right setting,) the other main theme is a peppy little ditty played on a Hammond organ, that sounds like roller-rink music.  Or like incidental music from "The Brady Bunch." This same happy tune is used (or, rather, mis-used) for suspenseful scenes, murder sequences, love scenes, and everyday background music.

Gilles' flashbacks to strangling his girlfriend are truly weird. They're staged like the fantasy ballet scenes in Oklahoma or Singin' In the Rain – vast, white open spaces with no horizon, colored lights, and a wind machine. But instead of a romantic pas de deux, he has his hands around her throat.

Fashion Moment

Nicole's wardrobe is all bright, flashy colors and tight jeans, but to me, the most striking sister is Claude. She goes from frumpy to feminine when she finds love, and the transition is marked by this outfit: a plain brown sweater and fashion-forward plaid pants. It's the first time we really take notice of her.

My Dear Killer

My Dear Killer

"Nobody Ever Knows Anything"

When an insurance adjuster is decapitated with a dredger, Police Inspector Luca Peretti (George Hilton) is on the case. Peretti soon discovers that the dead man was investigating the kidnapping and murder of a girl and her father and that the killer is eliminating everyone who gets too close to the truth. The investigation leads to a post office box, the victim's drawings, a broken statue, and a house with a crooked chimney, but how do the clues add up? Someone in the victims' family might hold the answer but, while they all say they want to find the truth, everyone seems to have something to hide. 

This movie has some clever ideas and two very well-staged murder scenes (the sight of a body hanging from the claws of a dredger is both hilarious and horrifying; the circular saw murder is gruesomely realized) but try to make sense of the story and motivations and everything falls apart. Don't expect a lot of skin or gore (aside from those two aforementioned scenes) because this is a straight-up procedural. And not a very good one – it's sad that the writers couldn't give the killer any clear motivation. George Hilton does a great job as always, though, and effectively holds the movie together.

  • The score was written by the "Italian John Williams," Ennio Morricone.  I just totally made up that nickname.
  • When we see her at home, Paola (Patty Shepard) is watching TV. The movie is 1966's classic Western Django, starring Franco Nero of The Fifth Cord.
  • The kidnapping victim, Stefania (Lara Wendell, credited as Daniela Rachele Barnes) is about eight years old but, due to a bad translation, she is repeatedly referred to as a "baby." In Italian, the word "bambina" refers to a small child – not necessarily an infant.
  • Note that the total body count is seven, but the first two kills listed above occur before the action of the movie starts.
  • This movie borrows something from classic mysteries that you don't usually see in gialli: a final scene where the detective gathers all the suspects into one room, runs through the clues, and reveals the identity of the murderer Nick Charles-style.

What the Hell Am I Watching?

Marilú Tolo appears in two completely superfluous scenes as Anna, Peretti's sullen, neglected  girlfriend. Perhaps these scenes were included to give Hilton's character more dimension, but they really stop the movie dead in its tracks.

One of the victim's uncles, Benjamino (Alfred Mayo) is a sculptor. As Peretti is questioning him in his studio, a naked nine-year-old girl appears suddenly in the doorway. Benjamino shoos her away and explains that the girl is a model for his sculptures. And Peretti totally accepts that as a valid explanation for being completely alone in his apartment with a naked nine-year-old girl. I know this is supposed to throw suspicion on Benjamino, but really? Not cool, movie. Not. Cool.

Fashion Moment

In his long sideburns, caterpillar mustache, and wool three-piece suits, George Hilton is serving up some serious Ron Burgundy realness in this film.

The Sweet Body of Deborah

The Sweet Body of Deborah

"You must die, Deborah. You must die to pay for Marcel's crime."

Newlywed jet-setters Deborah (Carroll Baker) and Marcel (Jean Sorel)  are honeymooning in Europe, but visiting Geneva brings back bad memories for Marcel, whose ex-girlfriend Suzanne (Ida Galli, credited as Evelyn Stuart) was killed there years ago under mysterious circumstances. In fact, when Marcel runs into his old friend Philip (Luigi Pistilli), he is accused of murdering the woman he once loved. After that, Deborah is besieged by threatening phone calls and notes and begins to wonder if her husband could be capable of murder. Neighbor Robert (George Hilton), who prefers the term "voyeur" to "peeping tom" adds even more stress to Deborah and Marcel's relationship. Is Deborah getting Gaslighted? Is Suzanne sabotaging the marriage from beyond the grave? Or is a more diabolical plan in motion?

The Sweet Body of Deborah (not to be confused with Your Sweet Body To Murder) isn't a great giallo. The body count is low and the setting moves around so much that the pool of suspects stays small. But what The Sweet Body of Deborah lacks in big scares and blood, it makes up with lots of grown-up time. Carroll Baker is certainly not shy about her body in this movie and she has obvious chemistry with Sorel, who looks like a young, Gallic Robert Redford.
  • Some of the elements of the film walk a line when it came time to check the boxes above. Someone gets buried in a backyard, which, technically, is not a graveyard, so I left "Scene in a graveyard" unchecked. Also, the couple visits a nightclub where a dancer of African descent strips to tribal drums. Is that racist? I'm not exactly sure.
  • Co-screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi later worked on such giallo classics as The Case of the Bloody Iris, Death Walks on High Heels, and Torso.

What the Hell Am I Watching?
Let's talk about the scene where Deborah and Marcel play an outdoor game of Twister. That is a thing that happened in this movie.  Let's also talk about the pop art comic book-themed nightclub with "POW" and "CLANG" drawn on the walls in the style of the 60's Batman TV show. And there's also a wall of what appears to be Doctor Who cybermen. Groovy, man.

Fashion Moment
Deborah sports some great outfits in this movie, but none is more eye-catching than the lime green knit catsuit she wears during the aforementioned Twister match.

Blood and Black Lace

Blood and Black Lace

"Perhaps the sight of beauty makes him lose control of himself and kill."

When fashion model Isabella (Francesca Ungaro) is brutally murdered, her colleagues at the Christian Couture fashion house are distressed. But when her diary surfaces, filled with the details of a complex web of blackmail, everyone wants to get their hands on it to keep their secrets from being exposed – and one person will even kill! As the diary changes hands, the models are murdered one by one by a faceless figure in black. Could one of the implicated models, like Peggy (Mary Arden) or Greta (Lea Lander, credited as Lea Krugher) be responsible? Or was it Max Marian (Cameron Mitchell), the fashion house's business manager?  It's up to Inspector Silvester (Thomas Reiner) to untangle this mystery.

Blood and Black Lace isn't the first giallo film, but I'm starting this blog with it because it is absolutely a must-see for those who are interested in the world of giallo. This movie is by far the most iconic and influential film of the genre, setting up the format of a series of beautiful women getting murdered in stylish ways, as well as introducing the "look" of the classic giallo killer: a faceless man in a black hat, coat, pants, and gloves. I highly recommend viewing the DVD of Blood and Black Lace because it includes the best, most illuminating commentary track I've ever heard, by Bava scholar Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog. Here are a few highlights:
  • Mario Bava defied convention by shooting this movie in vivid, saturated color. Up until then, color was for comedies and musicals, while dramas and thrillers were always done in black and white.
  • Because of this, Bava was able to color-code the film. Each killing and character is assigned its own color, reflected in lighting, set design, and costumes. Isabella is red; Nicole is blue; Peggy is gold; Greta is green; Tao-Li is white; the final murders are black. These color assignments recur throughout the film. For example, it's Isabella's murder that starts the plot, so flashes of red (her diary, fingernail polish, Max's phone) tie objects and characters back to her murder. Some have speculated that this is an homage to Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Masque of the Red Death," set in an allegorical series of colored rooms.
  • As I mentioned, Blood and Black Lace is highly influential in the world of giallo. Dario Argento's color sense can be traced back here, plots, settings, and characters are often borrowed and, throughout the genre, you'll see mannequins and harps used as props as a tip of the hat to this film. Most notably, though, the movie Death Walks at Midnight borrows Blood and Black Lace's signature murder weapon – a unique spiked iron glove.
  • Near the end of the movie, the camera moves through the dark studio into the office, through a doorway draped in red velvet curtains, like a theater proscenium – literally "opening the curtain" on the film's final scene. Dario Argento would borrow this effect in Four Flies on Gray Velvet, Deep Red, and Opera.
  • So you thought Scream was clever, having two killers in cahoots, giving each other an alibi? Guess what? Blood and Black Lace did it first, back in 1964. That's 14 years before the genre that Scream parodies was even invented.
What the Hell am I Watching?

This is a classy production, but it really pushes the envelope when it comes to the murder scenes, by 1964 standards.  For example, poor Peggy is choked, beat up, dragged up a flight of stairs, and burned alive on a hot stove. Then her body is loaded into the trunk of a car, driven to the country, hauled up more stairs, and hidden behind a screen before the police discover it. Mary Arden spent more time playing a corpse in this movie than she did playing a live person.

Nicole's (Ariana Gorini) murder really raises the bar on artistry, though. Bava expertly and stylishly cranks up the suspense as Nicole makes her way through a dark antique shop, lit only by flashing neon lights. It is both beautiful and frightening. And that's what giallo is all about.

Fashion Moment

This is a movie set in the world of fashion, so clothes and accessories figure in pretty strongly to the story. First, have a look at Fashion Director Christina Como (Eva Bartok). She only wears black since the death of her husband, but this evening look is stunning.

Only Nicole is  brave enough to wear the "cursed" black dress that Isabella was supposed to model.

In that same scene, all eyes are on Nicole's purse, which holds Isabella's diary.

And, of course, we must mention the movie's most memorable accessory: the iconic spiked metal glove.