...aka: Blutige Seide
...aka: Fashion House of Death
...aka: Six Women For the Murderer
This great-looking horror film, along with Bava's THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH/THE EVIL EYE (1962), basically created and defined the giallo film genre as we know it. At a decadent high-style fashion house owned by chain-smoking Max Marian (Cameron Mitchell), run by fashionista Countess Cristina Como (Eva Bartok) and populated mainly by wealthy, shallow, vain, deluded and/or just plain troubled men and women, a young, drug-addicted model named Isabella is brutally murdered by a psycho dressed in a black top hat, coat and white, expressionless mask… and armed with a clawed glove. When Isabella's diary, containing information that could bury many of the principals, turns up missing, the list of possible suspects starts to decrease as the body count steadily rises. As is, the story is an uneven cookie-cutter tale of blackmail, revenge and murder, a fact not helped any if you decide to watch the dubbed version (the DVD includes a subtitled option). So instead of dwelling too much on that, focus your attention on the astonishing Technicolor photography and wonderfully clever direction. From frame one, a gorgeous night shot of the fashion house with a blood red sign and blue flashes of lightning illuminating the darkness, this is a true triumph of visual imagination. There are many memorable, boldly-colorful and brutally violent set-pieces that elevate this movie above most others in the crowded genre; a model stalked inside her apartment before being beaten, abducted and having her hand and face scalded on a red-hot furnace, a drowning/wrist slashing with the bathtub quickly filling up with blood, a POV prowling around a room full of multi-colored mannequins, disorienting shots looking into, and tilting out of, various mirrors...
It drags at times and is a bit fractured if you want to be anal about it from a writing standpoint, but really it deserves much praise for daring to move away from the confines of conventional narrative storytelling and for its huge influence on the genre. The cast includes Thomas Reiner as a police inspector, Dante DiPaolo, Franco Ressell, Luciano Pigozzi, Lea "Krugher"/Lander (from Bava's RABID DOGS) and Harriet Medin.