A giallo with a low body count that predates Black Christmas and Halloween for the opening POV tracking shot of the killer, Blood and Lace was an influential 1971 slasher picture. Under the harsh light of modern times, it’s a clunky, plodding and altogether harebrained concoction with stock music from the Ed Wood films of yesteryear. The vantage point technique is shoddy though with the claw hammer (the murderer’s weapon of choice) practically mounted to the lens as if the culprit was holding it right above his nose.
Draining the film of nocturnal ambiance is the high-key lighting scheme which would be more appropriate for The Mary Tyler Moore sitcom. With nary a shriek or pulverizing sound effects, the hammer deaths are tepid. Obviously the charred mask and red sweater were reconfigured for A Nightmare on Elm Street. But just because it was the template doesn’t mean Wes Craven didn’t substantially improve upon it.
When Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson) is orphaned and incessantly reminded that she doesn’t know the identity of her father, the plot twist is telegraphed miles ahead. Except the shockingly lurid incest-and-blocked-memories revelation (“Evil breeds evil honey”) in the final moments can’t scrub away the pure boredom of teenage angst with Ellie and her peers prattling about their absentee parents. The kernel behind a halfway house with decomposing runaways is a pulpy and could’ve been skin-crawling but it’s comical putty in the maladroit hands of Philip S. Gilbert.
All of the “orphans” are incontrovertibly played by 30-year-olds. In the Mommie Dearest role, Gloria Grahame is a slurring shrew but she lacks the combustibility although her soliloquies to her refrigerated husband are loony. This is not a treasure trove in the sands of time.
Rating: 1 out of 5