A Trio of Terror: Blood and Black Lace, Burnt Offerings, and 28 Days Later

Heya folks. I been under the weather for a couple of days, and so I don't have a full length review for you folks. It's not for lack of watching movies though and so I'm going to give you a trio of quick reviews for the films I watched yesterday. They all deserve full length reviews of their own, but I'll try and do them justice in as few words as possible.

When you approach the films of Mario Bava, there are some things you come to expect; innovations, beauty, and grace mixed equally with death, blood, and despair. To say that Bava had a singular sense of style would be an understatement, and nothing about his film Blood and Black Lace (1964) is understated. Style practically crawls out of your screen and knocks you upside the head. This is the third time I'd seen Bava's influential early giallo, and I am always impressed by the depth Bava put into the design of every shot. Sure, It's got some faults. The acting is wooden at points and the story moves along slowly, but as the story of models being slaughtered in a fashion house plays out, you are kept enraptured in the story from it's sheer visual delight. It may not be my favorite Mario Bava film, but it's definitely an entertaining film full of style, beautiful women, and the hallmarks that Bava left on the genre as a whole.

How many times do I have to say it? Don't rent creepy old houses! I really would have thought that veteran actors like Oliver Reed, Karen Black, and Bette Davis would know better, but Burnt Offerings (1976) proves that no one can resist a great deal. Reed and Black play a husband and wife who take their child and Aunt Lisbeth (Davis) to stay the summer in an eerie old manor. Needless to say things go badly, and soon the parents both start acting strangely. This is a film cut from similar cloth as The Sentinel or The Changeling, but instead of being a haunted house, this is more like the house as an entity itself. Its performed well with Reed being in fine form, Black chewing the scenery as she goes nutty, and Davis proving that, even as she pushed 70, she still had the same chops she always had. It's a creepy little film, but slow moving and anyone looking for thrills or gore will be sorely disappointed.

Seven years later, I finally got around to seeing 28 Days Later. How shall I sum this one up? Hmm, how about eco-terrorists are fucking stupid and will kill us all? Ok, perhaps a bit harsh, but they were the ones who let out the Rage infected monkeys, so I'm just saying. Anyhow, the Rage virus gets out, all hell breaks loose, and Great Britain gets quarantined. 28 Days Later, Cillian Murphy's character wakes in a hospital and goes out searching for any life in the deserted London. While Peter Boyle's 2002 film is much more of a character driven piece than a zombie film, it does harken back to Romero's quiet character driven original Night of the Living Dead film. The performances are top notch with my favorite being Brendon Gleeson as a survivalist, taxi driving dad. Gleeson is always good, but I found his performance to be quite moving in this flick. Boyle delivered a very visually arresting film, but there is very little here in the way of new ideas in the zombie genre. 28 Days Later has been hailed as groundbreaking because of the fast zombies, but I seem to recall them in some Italian pictures as well as the Return of the Living Dead films. That being said, I don't think Boyle was looking to revolutionize the zombie film, but instead he wanted to make a film that looked at paranoia, isolation, and how quickly societal norms can break down when put under pressure.

1 comment:

  1. Blood and Black Lace is one of my new favorite slashers, I hope more fans take the time to revisit this one. Beautiful coloring and camera work, Bava rocks!


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