Lamberto Bava, son of Mario Bava, is a very accomplished filmmaker in Italy, particularly during the 80’s where his strongest and most famous work came out. Along with Bruno Mattei, he is the king of the so-bad-they’re-awesome kind of films. From the kooky Macabre, the Jaws clone Monster Shark, the Rambo clone Blastfighter, and the anarchistic Demons. His latest films follow the same vein, such as the torture-porn inspired The Torturer. A Blade In The Dark is no exception. The story deals with a young musician named Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti) who is secluded in a vacation home while writing the score for a horror movie directed by a maybe-she’s-lesbian-maybe-she’s-not film director. But soon it so happens that there is the possibility that the film might be based on a real case, and a disturbed woman is killing young ladies in the vacation home, women who might know the truth. Soon, Bruno and his girlfriend Julia (Lara Nazinsky in a firecracker role) are fighting for their lives, and the truth about the killer might be more terrible, or sillier if you’re me, when it’s finally revealed.
Much like Macabre, this is mostly a thriller that has more in common with the films of Alfred Hitchcock than in the typical Italian giallos. What drives it somewhat into the horror genre is the very violent death scenes. They’re very impactful death scenes, with good and scary set-pieces that lead to a very violent pay off. My favorite has to be the death of ‘pool girl’, as she gets first stabbed in her hand while washing her hair over the sink, gets herself choked to death on a plastic bag, then her throat slit over the bathtub. Very violent stuff, and it left such an impression on me when I first saw it that I stole it for my 15-minute short film, Three, which I made in 2004. Of course, Lamberto’s version is much better.
Probably the main fault is that the characters are all very uninteresting, even if they’re familiar actors. Andrea Occhipinti, for example, played the duck-voiced killer in New York Ripper, and pool girl is played by Demons victim Fabiola Toledo. The only interesting acting comes from only three performers: Lara Nazinsky who is beautiful and full of attitude, director Michele Soavi who plays a manager (and maybe more, hilariously) and my favorite child actor, Giovanni Frezza, that famous badly-dubbed blonde kid from films like House By The Cemetery, Manhattan Baby, and The New Barbarians. Whatever happened to him? Anyway, the victims are not very interesting, and most of them seem to pop up for fifteen minutes then get violently killed. At least the third act picks up on the killing and gets a faster pace. I also like the fact that it involves filmmaking, and a woman even gets murdered with film print, it’s pretty cool. So yes, this film is very flawed and I have seen much better Italian thrillers, but it’s still very entertaining and never gets dull.