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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Blood and Lace aka "The Blood Secret" [Blu-ray]

 

(Philip S. Gilbert, 1971)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: American International Pictures (AIP)

Video: Shout! Factory

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:48.244

Disc Size: 22,079,057,883 bytes

Feature Size: 21,700,657,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 24th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1632 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1632 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1764 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1764 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

Audio Commentary by Film Historian Richard Harland Smith
Alternate Opening Title (:21)
Original Theatrical Trailer (1:49)

DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: She searched through the dark corridors of the unknown, only to find… the unbearable.

Available for the first time on a home entertainment format, the 1971 cult favorite Blood and Lace is a twisted tale of horror frequently cited as a precursor to the slasher films of the late 70s and early 80s.

After her mother’s 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’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.

With borderline insane plot twists, and some unexpected performances by two faces familiar to fans of classic sitcoms: Vic Tayback ("Mel" from Alice) and Len Lesser ("Uncle Leo" from Seinfeld), this little-known horror gem is a jolting, terror-filled thriller you’ve got to see to believe.

 

 

The Film:

Gloria Grahame joined the list of aging Hollywood stars who bloodied their hands in the wake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? with this sick, effective horror film about nasty doings at a private orphanage. Grahame gives a wonderfully grotesque performance as Mrs. Dorothy Deere, a crazy widow who bilks the county out of money by running a home for wayward youths. If any of her tenants happens to run away, the wino handyman Tom kills them with a meat-cleaver and throws them into a deep-freeze in the cellar. Into this unsavory situation comes young Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson of TV's F-Troop), whose prostitute mother was viciously murdered with a claw-hammer while in bed with a john. Ellie witnessed the killer leaving the burning bedroom, and is warned by helpful cop Carruthers (Vic Tayback) that he could still be around. This film looks absolutely horrible considering the names involved, with an air of cheapness pervading even the most minor elements of the production. Nevertheless, it works because of the performances. Grahame brings a deadpan madness to her character that is a welcome and chilling change from the fright-wigged harridans of similar films, and Len Lesser exudes considerable menace as the murderous Tom. It might also amuse some to see a young Dennis Christopher as the nerdy Pete. The "shock" ending is pretty silly, but director Philip Gilbert manages to maintain a fairly skillful tone of depravity and madness until that point, making this an atmospheric (if ratty) treat.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

There's a good deal of blood and a minimum of logic, or lace for that matter, in "Blood and Lace," which was exposed in local theaters yesterday, to illustrate, we assume, that horror can be both vague and silly. Exposed also are Gloria Grahame and a clutch of decidedly lesser-known performers in a low-grade exercise in shadows, screams, traumas and slayings that are largely more laughable than shocking.

There is, for openers, the hammer murder of a prostitute whose daughter, Melody Patterson, a blond chick beside herself with neuroses, hate for her mother and a yen to find her father, is sent to the local orphanage run by Miss Grahame.

Miss Grahame is not a standard type. She needs the money she gets for operating her sylvan concentration camp and when youngsters try to break out, she has them caught with the aid of her wacky handy man, Len Lesser, who dispatches them with a cleaver and hangs them up in the orphanage's basement freezer.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Blood and Lace looks solid on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory - it's in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Detail in the close-ups is strong. It's only single-layered but with a reasonably high bitrate. There is depth and the colors may be slightly faded. It's not particularly dynamic but contrast seems adept and it's probably a very good representation of the theatrical - or as good as we are likely to ever get for this also-ran.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

A standard lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track at 1632 kbps supports the, often, unusual (and uncredited) score (described by Harland Smith as 'Library music') and the few effects come across with decent depth. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras :

One of the best things about the film (actually, that is not true, I liked it anyway) is the new audio commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith who brings up plenty of interesting details especially about Melody Patterson - who he claims may have been his first celebrity crush. I genuinely appreciated his insights from Giallo to the nostalgia circuit, Hollywood Gothic etc. - he is also quite amusing. There is also an alternate Opening Title (Blood and Lace; in the same font) and an original theatrical trailer. There is also a second disc DVD included.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I accept the poorness of this production but I still liked it. The 'slumming' Gloria Grahame only adds to its appeal - in my eyes. Strong supporting cast. It's schlocky but with some minor script tweaking, more effective f/x and a decent score - it could have been a much more revered production. The Shout! Factory Blu-ray produces a fine presentation - and an excellent commentary to give it recommendable value. Go for it. You, too, might be surprised how much you like it. 

Gary Tooze

November 16th, 2015

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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