Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 9th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1983
Director: Lamberto Bava
Writers: Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Andrea Occhipinti, Anny Papa, Fabiola Toledo, Michele Soavi, Valeria Cavalli, Stanko Molnar, Lara Lamberti, Giovanni Frezza, Marco Vivio, Frank von Kuegelgen
BluRay released: August 24th, 2015
Approximate running times: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
BluRay Release: 88 Films
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £14.99
A Blade in the Dark was directed by Lamberto Bava whose other notable films include, Macabre, Devil Fish, Demons and Demons 2. Key collaborators on A Blade in the Dark include cinematographer Gianlorenzo Battaglia (Formula for Murder, Midnight Killer), composers Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (Torso, Alien 2: On Earth) and screenwriters Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti (Zombie, The House by the Cemetery).
Where to begin, the first and most glaring knock against this film would be its anemic screenplay which only shows faint signs of a back-story. Also when it comes to establishing tension this is yet another area where this film lacks consistency. And if it were not for this film’s murder set pieces this film then this film would have been forgotten long ago. It should be pointed out that though said murder set pieces are this film’s only strength. The sequences also come off as a greatest hits of moments that are bound to give you déjà vu. Also when it comes to concealing the identity of the killer, there are your usual set of red herrings offered up in hopes of distracting you from the obvious choice.
As mentioned before this film only saving grace are its murder set pieces which all feature rock solid visuals which accentuate the carnage which is unfolding onscreen. A few standout moments include the films opening setup. Which also serves as a film within a film. And a scene where the very attractive neighbor ask to go swimming in the pool. Then after her swim she is confronted by the killer in what is arguably the most violent moment in the film.
And from a performance stand point the cast are best described as pedestrian as they are nothing more than props. With the only performance leaving any lasting impression being Michele Soavi’s (Stagefright, Cemetery Man) in a dual gender bending role that has become all too familiar in Italian thrillers.
Where Lamberto Bava’s debut film Macabre was grade ‘A’ example of how to make a Horror film on a minuscule budget. The opposite can be said of his second feature film A Blade in the Dark, a film that ultimately suffers from many of the same symptoms which plague the majority of Horror films made since the 1980’s.
A Blade in the Dark comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This is another strong transfer the greatly improves upon all previous releases. With the most important improvement comes in regards to presenting this film in its intended 1.66:1 aspect ratio, while previous releases featured a more tightly framed 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Other areas of improvement include image clarity and slightly bolder colors. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. With this film’s score benefiting most from these audio mixes. Range wise things sounds as good as one could hope for considering the film’s mono limitations and the fact that the soundtrack was created post production. Also inlcuded with this release are with newly created English Subtitles.
Extras for this release include, opening Italian language credits (1 minute 22 seconds), an interview with cinematographer Gianlorenzo Battaglia (19 minutes 9 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), a Q & A with Lamberto Bava (50 minutes 9 seconds, in English), a Collectible 300gsm Original Poster Post Card and a reversible cover art option.
Topics discussed in the interview with Gianlorenzo Battaglia include, how he began his career as assistant cameraman for Mario Bava, the difficulties of shooting A Blade in the Dark his first film as a cinematographer, how he overcame said difficulties like three weeks to shoot the film, the differences of shooting on location verse shooting on a sound stage, the cast, the look of the film and why he considers A Blade in the Dark a thriller and not a Horror film.
The Q & A with Lamberto Bava has him discussing his work with his father Mario and other director’s he worked with throughout his career like Dario Argento and Ruggero Deodato. He also discusses in depth various films that he has directed. Overall though there are short comings in regards to the transfer. It is ultimately the wealth on extra content and finally a home video release that presents the film in its intended aspect ratio, which make this a strong release from 88 Films.