Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 23rd, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, August 24th, 1972
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writers: Umberto Lenzi, Luis G. de Blain, Antonio Troiso
Cast: Carroll Baker, Sergio Ciani, Ida Galli, Eduardo Fajardo
DVD Released: 2003
Approximate Running Time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Trash Mountain Video
Region Coding: Region 2 NTSC
Retail Price: $49.95
Synopsis: Martha Caldwell (Carroll Baker) is a mute whose trauma was caused by witnessing the death of her parents as a young girl at a train station. Now grow up she lives with her cousin and uncle in a secluded house just outside the hustle of the big city. Martha meets her cousin Jenny (Ida Galli) at the train station and it doesn’t take long for things to start to fall apart. There is a murderer on the loose and after the death of Martha’s cousin and the family maid the police suspect Martha’s next.
When one looks back on Italian cinema names like Mario Bava, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci quickly come to mind. Umberto Lenzi career as a director peaked in the 1970’s and now with the advent of DVD we have a chance to reappraise his work from this period. Lenzi has always been a hand’s on director and in most of his films he either co-wrote or contributed ideas to the screenplay. Even though his films are not as flamboyant or visually stunning as Mario Bava or Dario Argento’s, he always manages to crafts films that have more depth then your typical genre film.
Knife of Ice isn’t your typical giallo film as it is devoid of on screen carnage and copious amounts of flesh on parade. Lenzi with would explore themes in Knife of Ice that he would use is the more refined giallo Spasmo. Lenzi’s effectively uses flashbacks through out the film to demonstrate Martha’s fragile state of mind. I have seen Carroll Baker in many films through the years and for me Knife of Ice is one of her best performances of her career. The whole film relies on her performance and through her facial expressions and action she manages to bring us the viewers into her experience.
Knife of Ice relies on the atmosphere that is heightened by the locations used. In an early scene in which the chauffeur stops the cars because it is over heating leaving Martha and Jenny in car. The tension is heightened as we wait with the two women for the chauffeur to return as a fog engulfs the car. Knife of Ice breaks away from a lot of the traditional giallo formula’s still it is entertaining film in which Lenzi manages to keep things inventive and fresh.
Trash Mountain’s DVD release for Knife of Ice retains the films original 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The quality of the print used is extremely good. The colors are solid and the darker/nighttime scenes don’t exhibit as much detail as the brighter scenes. There is some minor print damage, still nothing that ever takes the viewer away from the action. For a non-anamorphic transfer Trash Mountain release is one of the better looking giallo releases that I have seen so far released in Japan!
The only audio option included is an English dubbed audio track that has some minor hiss. For the most part the audio is clean as the dialog and action is easy to hear and follow. Removable Japanese Subtitles has also been included.
Extras include Knife of Ice’s theatrical trailer and text that is in Japanese only. Knife of Ice is one of Umberto Lenzi’s more pedestrian giallo’s and considered Trash Mountain’s hefty price tag it would have been nice if they included some real extras. While seeing the film in its original scope aspect ratio is a plus. At best Knife of Ice is a rental nothing more. Spend your money on a more deserving and reasonably priced Lenzi giallo like Spasmo or Seven Blood-stained Orchids.