Director – Lamberto Bava
Cast – Andrea Occhipinti, Anny Papa, Fabiola Toledo, Michele Soavi, Valeria Cavalli, Stanko Molnar, Lara Lamberti
Release Year -1983
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Lamberto Bava has remained one of my favorite horror directors due to his awesome Demons‘ series entries (Demons, Demons 2) that consisted of supreme horror on all counts, but I had yet to give a watch to any of his earlier stuff until I got a hold of A Blade in the Dark, a giallo effort from this son of Mario Bava that gave me everything I wanted to see. With a great storyline, superb direction, and some darn good scares and kill sequences, A Blade in the Dark is one of the most underrated and under-appreciated giallo films out there, and a sure guarantee of horror enjoyment for those who enjoy Italian horror.
Bruno, a music composer, rents a large home to isolate himself as he works on a musical score for a horror film. When two of his female neighbors disappear under mysterious circumstances, his curiosity and subsequent investigation leads him on a search to uncover information regarding the home’s previous tenant. Little does he know, the very horror film he is working on contains the vital clues necessary to uncovering the blood-soaked puzzle surrounding him, and he too finds himself in the sights of a savage killer with a haunting past.
Boy do I love this film. Aside from the joy of knowing Mario Bava(Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Twitch of the Death Nerve)’s son followed proudly in his footsteps in delivering solid and awesome horror, the story and execution are exceptional and had me wondering why this film seems to be one of the more lesser-known great giallo efforts. The story takes off right away, and throws in many unique elements horror fans are sure to enjoy. I loved the idea of a musical composer working on a horror film in isolation while renting a large creepy home, and for obvious reasons. Working on a horror film (in a horror film) was a great idea, and Bruno renting the large home added to the mystery and conflict given he has no clue what evils may lie in the home as a result of its previous tenants, and he soon finds out with awesome results. The film is a bit long, running in 110 minutes, but I never once found myself bored and instead found myself glued to the screen thanks to how awesome the subject matter was. Bruno’s investigation into the disappearances of those around him was great, and it came with the usual awesome twists and turns associated with the giallo sub-genre. We are lead through a never-ending array of potential killers, and as the film progresses things only become more interesting when when the only way a suspect is eliminated from suspicion is when he/she is killed, and the revelation that our killer is a female made things even more awesome. The usage of the horror movie Bruno is working on in reference to the story was great, and while it was not a new idea it worked well for the story in adding creative elements that helped with the pacing. Each development was perfectly timed, and while we do not get a whole lot of kills they each came at proper intervals and consisted of awesome killing methods that played heavily into my enjoyment of this piece, naturally. Of course, this being a solid giallo effort you should expect a harrowing climax that you possibly never see coming, and consisting of the highest level of horror as possible.
Lamberto Bava’s direction is as great as it usually is, sucking us in from the get-go with awesome atmosphere and superb sets. Once things get going and the horror kicks in Bava shows the emergence of the genes inherited from his father by giving us horror that left a long-lasting grin on my face and a warm feeling in my chest. The kill sequences are superb, and he gives us a full-frontal view of the brutal and unrelenting carnage at hand provided by a great killer relying on a box cutter to deliver blood-soaked goodness. Much to my enjoyment, these kills sequences were long and drawn out, with plenty of eerie camerawork leading up to each kill and each kill then taking its sweet time in ingraining itself into the viewer’s memory. At times some of these kills were downright scary, especially the final kill before the unveiling of who our killer is, a scene which left me with supreme chills due to how well the chase and kill were executed. If I was not lying in bed when the scene occurred I would have offered Bava a standing ovation, but I was too full of pizza and Dr. Pepper to get up from my fat-inducing position. I really cannot speak enough on how awesome the horror is in this piece, and as expected we get a sweet musical score, decent acting (including a fun performance from Italian director Michelle Soavi), and a minimal but fair amount of sleaze to go along with the pre-existed enjoyable elements used in this great Italian horror film.
Overall, A Blade in the Dark is a great giallo effort from Lamberto Bava that proves his greatness at the near-inception of his film making career. The story is great and highly engaging, consisting of all the proper twists and turns as well as constant creative material, and along with good execution we get high levels of horror in this long but never boring experience. I highly recommend this to all horror fans, especially those looking for a great giallo effor that has yet to receive the attention that it deserves.