Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 15th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Italy / Canada / Panama, 1976
Director: Alberto De Martino
Writers: Vincenzo Mannino, Gianfranco Clerici
Cast: Stuart Whitman, John Saxon, Martin Landau, Tisa Farrow, Carole Laure, Jean LeClerc, Gayle Hunnicutt
BluRay released: April 12th, 2016
Approximate running times: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber / Scorpion Releasing
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Shadows in an Empty Room was directed by Alberto De Martino who is most remembered for directing the Italian Exorcist clone The Antichrist. Other standout film’s from De Martino include, Formula for Murder and Operation Kid Brother a James Bond spoof that stars Sean Connery’s brother Neil. Key collaborators on Shadows in an Empty Room include, screenwriters Gianfranco Clerici (Don’t Torture a Duckling, Cannibal Holocaust) and Vincenzo Mannino (High Crime, The New York Ripper) and composer Armando Trovajoli (Hercules in the Haunted World, The Double). Shadows in an Empty Room is also known under this alternate title Blazing Magnums.
Content wise, Shadows in an Empty Room is equal parts thriller and police procedural. And though the majority of the talent behind the scenes were Italian. This is a rare example of an Italian film that is devoid of things that has become synonymous with Italian genre cinema. Location has always played a factor in Italian genre cinema and in the case of this film it was shot in Canada, a location that was never prime restate for Italian made police procedurals or thrillers.
As mentioned before this is a film that balances between two genres and never fully commits to one. And in regards to the thriller aspects of this film. There is an air of familiarity, when it comes to the depiction of the killer. The same cannot be said for police procedural moments which come off as tame compared to other similar Italian themed films. And nowhere is more evident, then in regards to this film’s protagonist Captain Tony Saitta. This character is a more sanitized version of its Italian counterparts from the Poliziotteschi genre.
Oddly enough this film excels during its most absurd moments. And without a doubt there is no scene that fits this bill, then a scene where Saitta’s investigations lead him to an apartment where three transvestites live. And before he can get a word in, they trio of transvestites come at him with murderous intentions. Another standout moment is this film’s obligatory car chase. Which magnifies this type of scene well beyond the reality of the situation.
Performance wise the cast are range from adequate to good in their respective roles. The only performance that leaves any lasting impression is Stuart Whitman (The Mark) in the role of Captain Tony Saitta. He delivers a B movie version of the type of character Charles Bronson portrays in the Death Wish films. Other cast members of note include, Martin Landau (North By Northwest), John Saxon (Tenebrae), Gayle Hunnicutt (The Legend of Hell House), Carole Laure (Sweet Movie) in the role of Louise Saitta and Tisa Farrow (Some Call it Loving) Julie Foster, a blind girl who holds the key to the killers identity.
Shadows in an Empty Room comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source used of this transfer is in great shape. Print damage in minimal and is most present during the opening moments of the film. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels remain strong throughout and details look crisp. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
Extras for this release include, a reversible cover art option and a trailer for the (3 minutes 33 seconds). Both of these extra have the title Blazing Magnums. Other extras include trailers for other films also available from Kino Lorber.
Overall Shadows in an Empty Room gets a first rate audio / video presentation from Kino Lorber.
Note: This film is also being released by Kino Lorber on DVD.