Review Date: April 29, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 5/29/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Bruno (Andrea Occhipinnti), a young musician, is hired to score a new horror film that recently finished production. The director of the picture, Sandra, is a friend of Bruno's - she refuses to let him see the twelfth and final reel to the movie, claiming it's a mysterious prize that no one can see just yet. Bruno rents out a small villa from a man named Tony, to begin work on the score.
During his first night at the villa, Bruno is startled when Katia, a young women that lives next door, jumps out of his closet after being frightened by a spider. Just as the two start to become more acquainted, they're interrupted by a phone call from Tony, asking if Bruno had a chance to record him a musical cassette. As Bruno is on the phone, Katia claims she's going off to use the bathroom, but instead she sneaks out the back door and heads home. Bruno goes looking for her, only to discover her diary lying on the floor. In it he reads about Linda, the previous occupant of the villa, and Kadia's knowledge of Linda's terrible, mysterious secret. Bruno doesn't find Katia, but after investigating some nearby bushes he ends up with several spots of blood on his pants. Later he discovers more blood on the stairs leading into Gorvani's room - the villa's caretaker.
Later that night Bruno's girlfriend Julia shows up. After Bruno tells her what happened, and his suspicions that Katia may have been murdered, Julia appears more jealous than concerned. Shortly after Julia's leaves, Bruno discovers a locked room in the villa's basement. He learns from Tony that the locked room belongs to Linda. Bruno's theory is that Katia was in the house that night to meet Linda, and that Linda may be the answer to what happened to Katia.
The mystery thickens when Angela, Katia's roommate, shows up at Bruno's and she too disappears. Thinking a horror director must be an expert at such matters, Bruno enlists the help of Sandra. He discovers that Sandra, too, has a link to the mysterious Linda. Bruno and Sandra begin trying to unravel the killer's identity, but before they get very far, Sandra herself falls victim to the killer. Now, Bruno must turn to the infamous twelfth reel to try and unmask the killer before they can strike again.
I'll no doubt take some heat for this, but THIS IS where I, the reviewer, get to post my opinions on the movie. First, let me be honest and say I'm not a big fan of giallos. Yes, even something like Argento's beloved Tenebre is not something I'm too fond of. Lets stick to the movie on hand, however. A Blade in the Dark definitely has some moments to it - some nice, bloody murder scenes, the occasional "edge-of-your-seat" tension build-up, and it even does a decent job of making it hard to get who the killer is, thanks to several red herrings. But overall I found the movie to be too long and drawn out, with not nearly enough "payback" for the time I spent watching it. When I start falling asleep to a movie in the middle of the day, you know there's something wrong. I want my movies to be scary and thrilling - A Blade in the Dark did neither for me. Also, am I the only one who found every time the killer kept protracting and retracting the blade in their utility knife to be extremely annoying? At least the killer eventually switches to a kitchen knife...
I'm definitely a fan of some of Lamberto Bava's work, but he definitely could've done better with A Blade in the Dark. The movie does have many resemblances to some of Argento's giallos, and it's obvious that Argento is influencial in Bava's work here. On a positive note, the sets are beautiful, the film is well shot, the acting is decent, and there is one extremely good murder scene that fans will definitely enjoy.
This one gets a C in my book, but note that many fans are fond of A Blade in the Dark, and that I myself am not all that fond of giallos. I definitely recommend it as a rental, whereas dozens of others would recommend it as a must own. You decide.
A Blade in the Dark is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. An impressive transfer overall, but there are some minor problems. The main problem was the background of the image, which, in many bright scenes, has a sort of "haze" to it. This haze appears to be a combination of minor mpeg artifacting and, at times, light grain. I don't classify it as a big problem, but it's definitely noticable at times. A few blemishes appear, mostly consisting of some vertical black and white lines that fade in and out in a few scenes - very minimal, however. The image is extremely sharp and boasts strong, solid colors; blacks look perfect in the various nighttime scenes. Flesh tones also appear to be accurate.
For an Italian giallo from 1983, I'd have to say I'm amazed with this transfer. Sure, there's some minor problems, but overall I'm quite impressed. The transfer makes the movie look almost on the level you'd expect from a new movie. In regards to comparing it with the past EC laserdisc and DVD, I never owned either so I can't do any comparison there. As for this Anchor Bay DVD, I'm rating the transfer a well deserved B+.
The sound is in English Dolby Digital Mono. Score and dialogue are clearly audible with no distortion heard. Score is fairly decent here too, and definitely helps build some tension at times.
The DVD isn't loaded with supplements, but there are a few nice ones included. First up is a featurette titled "Behind the Blade: Interviews with Director Lamberto Bava and Writer Dardano Sacchetti" that runs 10 minutes. It's very interesting overall - a nice featurette that fans will definitely enjoy. The two gentlemen briefly discuss their careers, friendship, and working relationship, as well as how A Blade in the Dark came to be.
Also included is a theatrical trailer, talent bios for Lamberto Bava and Dardano Sacchetti, as well as always enjoyable liner notes by Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas. I was also surprised to see a fellow web master Eddie Samuelson getting a special thanks at the bottom of the liner notes, for supplying some art and photos to Anchor Bay for this DVD release. Very nice...
Great transfer and sound, plus some nice supplements make this DVD well worth the $29.98 price tag. If you're a fan of the film, it's a must buy. If you haven't seen it yet, give it a rental to see if it suits your tastes. You'll no doubt love it if you're a fan of giallos.
Movie - C
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B+
Supplements - B
- Running time - 1 hour 44 minutes
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Mono
- Featurette: "Behind the Blade: Interviews with Director Lamberto Bava and Writer Dardano Sacchetti"
- Theatrical Trailer
- Talent bios
- Liner notes by Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas