Blood and Lace is a horror movie released in 1971 that features quite a bit of blood and very little lace. The film was a slasher by all accounts before the term was even coined and could be attributed to the brutal deaths featured within. The movie begins quite ominously with a shot of a floating hammer as it makes its way towards a sleeping couple. It is easy to predict what will happen and soon enough, they are murdered quite horrifically. It is that opening scene that establishes quite soundly what kind of movie this is and just what you are in for should you decide to keep watching. As it is, the film is not all grisly murders – there is a bit of drama to fill the spaces in-between, but even that at times is a bit horrific considering the subject matter of any given scene.
The story was fairly straightforward for the most part and it would feature the fate of a girl named Ellie who after her parents were killed by a maniac with a hammer, would end up living in an orphanage. Not everything is well in the home as Ellie soon discovers though because Mrs. Deere is quite the sadistic caregiver, torturing when needed and killing when she thinks it is called for. Suffice it to say, trusting Mrs. Deere is impossible, but who does Ellie go to when you are surrounded by those who only wish to do you harm?
While the murders are horrible in their own right, it is often those scenes that seem fairly innocuous that really make your skin crawl. It does not help in any way that all of the main characters are less than stellar people either. There is not a single one that you can relate with except for Ellie, at least for the most part. Whether it happens to be the cop and social worker talking about having sex with Ellie who is underage or the handyman trying to rape her or Mrs. Deere played by Gloria Grahame, teasing a poor girl who is dying of dehydration so that she might learn a lesson – there are no admirable characters to be had and no heroes to be found. It is not often in a picture where everybody is a bad guy and it makes this movie somewhat novel for the fact of it.
The performances were good, with Grahame really standing out followed closely by Melody Patterson as the damsel in distress. They really brought the picture to life and though it is not the greatest movie ever made, once it begins, it commands your attention. There is a surprise ending, one that might make you think for a moment and it too is quite disturbing once you understand the meaning of it. This is a bleak picture, one with very little good in it to be found. By the end of it all, it is hard to feel any empathy for anyone within, except perhaps some of the kids who have no choice but to live there and who might die should they try to escape. Blood and Lace is a movie for those that love horror because that is all that can be found within it.
3.5 out of 5