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‘Terror and Black Lace’ is midnight movie material

‘Terror and Black Lace’ is midnight movie material

Terror and Black Lace

Terror and Black Lace
Directed by Luis Alcoriza
Mexico, 1985

At least the title of Terror and Black Lace isn’t entirely misleading. There is, after all, some terror. And there is some black lace. But, in the same way that Luis Alcoriza’s 1985 film is mostly domestic drama and then only partially and haphazardly horror, this film is far more concerned with lingerie than horror.

Isabel (Maribel Guardia) is an attractive, bored housewife with an overprotective husband, Giorgio (Gonzalo Vega). Unbeknownst to them, their downstairs neighbor Cesar (Claudio Obregón) is a violent stalker.

There are so many unnecessary set pieces in Terror and Black Lace. In fact, this 95-minute film could’ve been a fun, campy 10-minute short. What’s more useless – the sexy, giggling women who live downstairs from Giorgio and Isabel? The suddenly sex-crazed maid who seems to know everyone in the city? The black lingerie that Isabel purchases (which, thinking eponymously, one might imagine would be a huge factor, but is, in the end, entirely meaningless)? The list is longer than this.

The problem with the camp in Terror and Black Lace is that it’s only funny for so long. After a very shot while it becomes clear that this isn’t self-awareness, but rather overlong sequences that are intended to contribute to a suspenseful build-up. At its best, the film is Almodóvar-horror-light. At it’s worst, an extended telenovela.

What’s funnier? The impossibly sexy bathing suit that Isabel sports as she makes mundane phone calls in the afternoon?

Terror and Black Lace

Or shots where Cesar fanatically breathes in one of the many locks of female hair he’s collected over the years, looking more Wookie than pscyho-killer?

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Alcoriza’s film becomes a slasher movie in the last 20 minutes. It features the most inane chase scene. There’s a good set-up: Isabel thinks she’s alone for the weekend. Those crazy women downstairs are having a loud party. And Cesar’s perversions and violence finally burst to the surface. So you’ve got the ingredients for a classic sequence: Cesar stalks Isabel, and no one can hear anything because of the thumping music.

The problem? How about the fact that Cesar, when climbing down an elevator shaft to surprise Isabel, huddled in the elevator from above, tosses his axe in first and then jumps down after it? Or the fact that Alcoriza can’t get enough of that damn elevator and a full six minutes involve Cesar running up and down stairs as Isabel goes up and down in the elevator? Or could it be that Cesar realizes that an axe can hack through a door – you know, that an axe can chop wood – only in his third encounter with said door? Another long list.

Certainly not the finest example of Mexican horror, Terror and Black Lace is midnight movie material.