A Blade in the Dark (1983) Poster

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6/10
Fairly ordinary '80s giallo enlivened by graphic gore
Leofwine_draca24 November 2015
Lamberto Bava's second feature - after the head-in-a-fridge hijinks of MACABRE - is this passable giallo which manages to get most elements right. The main problem with the film in my opinion is that Bava borrows too hard from his predecessors, with elements and stylistic touches from Hitchcock/Mario Bava/Brian de Palma popping up all the while. His biggest inspiration is obviously Dario Argento, and stylistically this film is very close to the feel of classics such as DEEP RED and TENEBRAE. There's the same suspenseful music, the same hero who must unravel the clues on his own, the same explicit murders to beef up the plot.

The plot is a sound one, making use of a small cast and an isolated location. The villa in the film is full of seemingly endless corridors for plenty of stalking to take place in. The film succeeds in being quiet atmospheric and even a little frightening, even if the thrills are second-rate. The acting is also all right, although the film lacks the presence of a big-name star to give it that extra edge. Andrea Occhipinti (also appearing in CONQUEST, the same year's lame fantasy flick from Fulci) is fine as the hero of the piece, although he is given little emoting to do, appearing more of a robot instead. The identity of the females in the film confused me as to their relationship with Bruno; a lot of girls just pop up out of nowhere to get murdered. Also lurking about is the familiar face of Michele Soavi, a staple of the Italian horror scene in this period before he went into directing.

Italian horror fans will automatically expect the slow-moving nature of the story, the plot holes, the sometimes dodgy editing and cheesy dialogue (one bimbo character is called a "vacant nerd" by our hero) although these may make the film harder to take seriously for your average viewer. Thankfully, we have a great score here with lots of suspenseful music which made things a lot easier to take for me (the film cuts down on money by having Bruno as a composer of horror movies - that way we get to listen to his music as the film goes on).

The all important gore is quite impressive, and surprisingly explicit in some cases (although the UK version shows some evidence of cutting in the second murder). Nasty! I especially liked the little stylistic touch of having the craft knife click from notch to notch loudly as the killer extended it. A BLADE IN THE DARK breaks no new boundaries and by following on from what has come before (unlike Bava's spectacular DEMONS) will never be very noticeable, but it's an interesting enough film for genre fans to sit through. My only complaint is the identity of the killer - it was far too easy to guess, even for me!
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7/10
Solid Sophomore Effort FromLamberto Bava
gavin694212 April 2011
A young musician (Andrea Occhipinti) moves in to a house for the summer, and soon he is surrounded by a series of murders. Evidence trickles in that the killer might be the previous tenant, but nobody knows for sure and some people refuse to talk. And what is in the locked room in the basement?

Lamberto Bava came out of his father's shadow to make "Macabre", one of the finest Italian horror films of its day. Often overlooked, it is slick and original, and well worth seeking out. He followed it up with "A Blade in the Dark", co-written by the legendary writer Dardano Sacchetti, which likely gave the film a boost. It, too, has superior picture and sound, far surpassing Fulci's films of the same era.

Bava protests that the film is "not really a horror film", and some have classified it as a mystery or thriller. This is warranted, but the intense blood, gore and chills make it firmly a horror story in my mind.

Luca Palmerini calls the film "morbid" and "misogynistic" with "claustrophobic overtones". I may agree on the last part, but the misogyny is a stretch. The women here do take a back seat (and the film does start out by calling Giovanni Frezza's character a "female" as an insult) but compared to horror as a whole I think it comes across as normal.

The English dubbing on the Anchor Bay DVD is a bit strange to me, mostly because the characters say "ciao" while otherwise speaking English. Maybe it is just me. But overall, I cannot complain -- a lot of terror comes from a very small blade, and this may be Michele Soavi's best work as an actor. Coupled with a haunting score, the film is gripping, though the music does tend to get a bit overplayed and old, especially after the first kill.

While the film is not as good as "Macabre", it deserves recognition. Bava threw it together rather quickly with a low budget and unknown actors, with minimal equipment (even the set was actually just the producer's house). Adapting it from a television script where the goal was to kill someone every thirty minutes, he did pretty well with it. Clearly, he was successful enough that he was able to keep directing and give us the now-classic "Demons".
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8/10
A pleasingly gory and nasty giallo
Woodyanders15 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Handsome young music composer Bruno (amiable Andrea Occhipinti) secludes himself in an isolated villa so he can devise the score for an upcoming horror film. A vicious psycho starts brutally butchering assorted lovely young women in the immediate area. Bruno investigates the savage homicides in order to find out if the killings have something to do with the movie he's working on. Director Lamberto Bava creates a reasonable amount of tension, maintains a grim, brooding tone throughout and stages the shockingly gory and sadistic murder set pieces with effectively ferocious go-for-it flair (the bathroom kill in particular is positively gut-wrenching). Moreover, there's a downright delectable bevy of beauteous ladies who are real easy on the eyes: Lara Naszinsky as Bruno's fetching blonde girlfriend Julia, Anny Papa as perky horror director Sandra, Valeria Cavalli as alluring neighbor Katia, and Fabiola Toledo as enticing brunette fox Angela (Toledo has a much-appreciated gratuitous topless scene). Occhipinti makes for an engaging lead, with solid support from Michele Soavi as friendly real estate agent Tony and Stanko Molnar as creepy sleazeball handyman Giovanni. Both Gianlorenzo Battaglia's slick cinematography and the elegantly eerie score by Guida and Maurizo De Angelis likewise hit the satisfying spot. The killer's true identity is both genuinely surprising and admirably perverse. Good, gruesome fun.
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7/10
Bava Jr. proves that he has inherited some of his old man's talent.
BA_Harrison16 November 2007
Originally shot for TV, but released theatrically after it was deemed too violent for the small screen, Lamberto Bava's demented giallo, A Blade In The Dark, features some remarkable Argento-style direction and plenty of well conceived and very suspenseful moments. It does tend to plod quite a bit between the good bits, but, on the whole, this is an enjoyable addition to the genre.

Andrea Occhipinti plays Bruno, a film composer who is staying at a huge luxury villa whilst working on a score for a horror film. His work is interrupted, however, by a series of visitors, most of whom wind up dead after bumping into a deranged killer who lurks somewhere within the labyrinthine property.

As with most giallos, the story has the occasional lapse in logic and the odd 'bizarre' moment (that 'cockroach' was definitely a spider!), and the identity of the murderer isn't as difficult to guess as the director had probably hoped (at least if you are familiar with the conventions of the genre). But with plenty of creepy atmosphere, a nice selection of easy-on-the-eye Italian crumpet as victims, and a suitably bonkers maniac with a typically unbelievable reason for embarking on a killing spree, this effort is worth tracking down.

Bava carefully builds the tension before each murder, and his precise framing of shots allows for plenty of effective scares (I jumped quite a few times during this one!). Most of the deaths are relatively tame (at least when compared to some of Argento's bloody set-pieces), but there is one standout scene (in which a woman has her hand pinned to a piece of furniture with a knife, before her head is bashed in, and her throat is cut) that might make the more timid of viewers look away from the screen.
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6/10
YOU ARE A FEMALE!
BandSAboutMovies29 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Known in Italy as La Casa con la Scala nel Buio (The House with the Dark Staircase), Lamberto Bava's A Blade in the Dark was originally intended to be a four-part TV mini-series, with each segment ending with a murder. However, it was too gory for regular audiences, so it was released as a film. It was written by the husband and wife team of Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti, whose script was often at odds with what Bava wanted to put in his film.

Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti, The New York Ripper) is a composer hired to create the soundtrack for a horror movie. He's been having trouble concentrating on the job, so he rents a house to sequester himself. He meets two women who used to know his rented villa's former tenant, but when they disappear, he's forced to watch the movie he's scoring closer, as there's a clue to the razor-wielding killer's identity hidden within.

Bava worked as Dario Argento's assistant for the movie Tenebre two years before this movie was made, so that has a big influence on this work. This is a movie unafraid to wallow in gore, feeling closer to the American slasher than the giallo. Then again, Lamberto was an assistant on the movie that predates the slasher, his father's A Bay of Blood.

For the killer, he had difficulty finding someone who could convincingly appear to be a man and a woman. He turned to his assistant, Michele Soavi, who went on to direct plenty of great horror on his own.

For those that care about these matters like me - Giovanni Frezza, forever Bob from The House by the Cemetery - shows up in the movie within a movie that Bruno is writing the music to. He's taunted by voices that chant "You are a female! You are a female!"

Also, in the true spirit of giallo and what the word means, every victim - and then the killer him or herself - is called out by the color yellow.
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5/10
Sadistic violence, a compelling score and not much of a plot. Welcome to Bava's textbook Giallo!
Coventry2 August 2004
Lamberto Bava, son of the greatest director of all time – Mario Bava, suffers from an unhealthy obsession to face his audiences with some of the most nauseating and gross images ever. He previously did so in `Demoni', while using a terrific gimmick and appealing black humor. Demoni still ranks as his most famous film. In this `A blade in the Dark', he tries to mix his typically sadistic violence with tension and mystery…but fails shamefully.

The plot and style is textbook Giallo stuff. During the entire film minus the last five minutes, walls of mystery are built up around the killer's identity. The `whodunit' is overstressed and it all results in far-fetched nonsense. In this case: A woman (?) who brutally slaughters young girls inside a luxurious mansion. The new tenant of this mansion is Bruno, a music composer hired to provide a new horror film with a compelling and ominous score. Bruno discovers there are a lot of similarities between the script of this particular film and the real-life murders. Bava enthusiastically focuses on the mystery so much he doesn't realize the climax actually is real dull and déja-vu. Also, the film isn't entirely worth its controversial status. Sure, the murders are disgusting and explicit, but not different or more repulsive than the ones shown in any other Italian Giallo. The most positive aspect about `A blade in the Dark' is the excellent score. The loud music, warning you someone is about to die gruesomely, is far more exiting and `horrific' as the crime itself. Apart from a few top-creepy moments (tennis balls falling from the ceiling), this film isn't highly memorable.

Although not as notorious as `A blade in the Dark', I strongly advise to check out another Bava Giallo. `Foto di Gioia', a.k.a Delirium, which is a lot more imaginative and it doesn't take itself as serious. Not to mention it features Italy's most beautiful woman, Serena Grandi.
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8/10
An absorbing Giallo.
Hey_Sweden4 August 2012
Lamberto Bavas' amusing Giallo "A Blade in the Dark" is more straightforward than most; it's reasonably stylish yet never goes for the truly bizarre or nonsensical. The director, working from a screenplay by husband and wife writers Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti, does a respectable job of balancing traditional suspense with some in your face gory mayhem. (It's highly recommended that one see this in uncut form.)

Andrea Occhipinti plays Bruno, a film composer who isolates himself in a beautiful villa to work on his score for a horror film directed by his friend Sandra (Anny Papa). Soon, however, sexy lady neighbours meet gruesome demises as a creepy killer is haunting the premises. Bruno becomes obsessed with the circumstances and takes it upon himself to solve this mystery.

Even if one is able to figure everything out early on, the film is still solidly entertaining. It benefits from Bavas' use of the locations and his flair for the macabre. The murderer switches back and forth between an exacto knife and a kitchen knife, and shows no mercy. One particular murder sequence takes place in a bathroom and is very sadistic. There's some undeniable silliness - for one thing, a pesky invertebrate is referred to as a cockroach when we can clearly see it's a spider. Some viewers may take issue with the performances by the actors doing the dubbing, but others may find them entertaining.

The acting is basically decent. Handsome Occhipinti is ably supported by luscious ladies Papa, Fabiola Toledo as Angela, Valeria Cavalli as Katia, and Lara Lamberti as Julia. Assistant director Michele Soavi also has the key supporting role of Tony. Fans of Lucio Fulcis' "The House by the Cemetery" will note the presence of Giovanni Frezza, a.k.a. the infamous "Bob", in the film within the film.

Ultimately fairly twisted, "A Blade in the Dark" is a nicely shot, sometimes spooky film with a music score (by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis) that is sometimes repetitive but still effective. It goes on for about 109 minutes, so it does sort of drag at times, but overall it should be acceptable viewing for fans of this genre.

Eight out of 10.
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7/10
.Lamberto Scores A success
morrison-dylan-fan8 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Being left bored by Lamberto Bava and Stanko Molnar muddling first collaboration Macabre,I entered their second collaboration with greatly decreased expectations.and since having learned that Bava had a three year break between his first and second film,the gap in time seems to have made Bava much more focus,with his second effect being a tense,speedy Giallo/Slasher-hybrid.

The plot:

Scoring a horror film in a rented villa,Bruno asks the director to give him the final reel of the film for him to score,which she weirdly seems keen on holding on for herself.Later on that night,Bruno meets a woman at the villa called Katia,who he cant remember having ever met before.With having enjoyed his chat with Katia,Bruno looks all over the villa to find her again.Falling to find Katia, (who,unbeknown to him has been vicusly murdered)Bruno instead stumbles upon a deranged looking diary.Suspecting that something nasty is accruing at the villa,Bruno goes to meet the director to find out the truth about the villa and her horror film.Eventally she caves in,and starts to tell Bruno that one of the main infolances of her film was her sister,who was also the previous tente of the villa,until she had suddenly disappeared.Returning to his recording studio,Bruno begins to fear that he is not alone in the villa,when he finds that the diary and the reels of film have been cut to bits by a very sharp blade...

View on the film:

On the making of included on the excellent Blue Underground DVD,Lamberto Bava mentions that with having been given only six weeks to shoot the film,he had to rush like crazy to complete the film on time,which surprised me quite a bit,due to Bava showing a lot of attention to creating a tense film which moves at a strong,brisk pace.For his vastly improved directing,Lamberto uses a good number of great tracking shots,which helps to give a strong creeping sensation that the killer may be about to appear from any corner of the isolated villa.Along with the tracking shots,Bava turns the film into a fantastic Giallo/Slasher genre mash-up!,with the scenes of the killer slowly heading down to the next floor where Bruno is attempting to hide being truly edge of the seat stuff,with Bava cranking the tension up to as high as he can.Along with the Giallo murder mystery side,Lamberto shoots most of the great,gory murder scenes with a strong "Slasher" eye,with the blade constantly shimmering in the scenes,as the murders are shoot in a more impact-focus way,and a noticablely less pop-art stylised way.For the screenplay writers Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti cleverly make sure that you never have a moment to step back from the movie,to notice that 90% of the film is taking place in one building.To cover any signs of budget/shooting limitation's,Sacchetti and Brigant create a Giallo that keeps branching out sections of the story into new,scary area's.And although some of the characters are disappointingly under- written,Sacchetti and Brigant include a brilliant sting in this Giallo/Slasher tale,which completely got me by surprise,and had a good impact on me due to the tense mystery which Bava had been building up since the start of the film.

Final view on the film: An extremely brisk,well-paced Giallo/Slasher mash-up,with a good cast,a tense,tightly-written screenplay and stunningly improved directing from Lamberto Bava.
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4/10
Might have worked had it been tightened
Wizard-814 October 2018
The Italians made some great thrillers in the 1970s and 1980s, but occasionally they would stumble badly in their efforts. This includes "A Blade in the Dark", directed by Lamberto Bava. I will admit that it's not a completely bad movie. Despite being made on a low budget, Bava uses the limited locations well so the audience is not bothered by the lack of settings. There are some striking images and occasional eye-catching direction. But all this good stuff doesn't help much against the sad fact that the movie is incredibly slow. It doesn't take long to realize that not much is happening, and the thin story is stretched out from the breaking point. Had the screenplay been more quickly paced and with a lot more happening, we might have had a nifty giallo thriller despite a few additional problems with the movie (like pretty wretched dubbing.) I would only recommend the movie to die hard fans of the Italian giallo genre.
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Yawn
movieman_kev1 October 2003
It's never a good sign when I have to try three times to get through a movie, but that's what happened on this one. Not because it was too gory, but because it was so boring. No suspense, no terror. The version i have is a double feature DVD paired with "Macabre" (a superior film in every way)

My Grade: D-

Extras: trailer, 10 minute interview with the director
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8/10
An obvious rip-off, but great fun and Lamberto Bava's best film!
The_Void28 October 2007
Lamberto Bava may not have the awesome movie making talents of his father Mario, but all the same; he has directed a number of good genre flicks, and for my money; this Giallo is the best of them. The film takes obvious influence from Dario Argento's phenomenal eighties Giallo 'Tenebre' (which Lamberto Bava had a hand in), as well as a certain other influential classic film that I can't name for fear of spoilers. The film was clearly made on a low budget as the cinematography looks cheap and most of the film takes place around just one location - but Lamberto doesn't let this hinder him, and that's a big credit to him as a director. The plot focuses on Bruno, a composer who goes to a secluded villa to work on a score for a horror movie. It's not long before he meets some women that used to know the person who was there before him, and it's not long after that the women begin to disappear! Naturally, Bruno decides to investigate the disappearances, and it's not long before he realises that they have something to do with the movie he's working on...

Compared to other Lamberto Bava films, and other Giallo's, the body count here is rather low. However, every murder in the film is memorable, and that is largely thanks to the fact that they're all so brutal! The bathroom murder is somewhat notorious in its own right, and the film also features a couple of brutal knife slayings and someone being repeatedly bashed on the head with a spanner! The cast is made up of lesser known performers, though they all do their jobs well. Andrea Occhipinti is interesting enough in the lead role, and he is supported by a host of beautiful women, which is nice. The film also features a role for Michele Soavi; whom cult fans will recognise as another Argento-trained director. The central setting is well used and Bava manages to spring a foreboding atmosphere from the house and its grounds. The film also features a creepy sequence that involves some kids and a tennis ball that is liable to stick in the memory long after it's over. The conclusion is an obvious rip off of another film and it's just a bit silly too; but all the same, A Blade in the Dark is a fun little Giallo and I certainly recommend it.
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"Its Name Is Death..., It Hovers All Around Me!"...
azathothpwiggins3 March 2019
Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti) rents out a huge villa where he plans on composing the theme for a new horror / thriller film. We have already been shown that someone has been creeping around the villa, doing some disturbing things.

Bruno's work is quickly interrupted by a VERY flirtatious neighbor, a mysterious diary, and an inadvertently-recorded conversation on his reel-to-reel. All this, and a few bloody murders as well! Oh, and let's not leave out the suspicious actions of the oddball caretaker, or the way that various, beautiful women keep appearing -from out of closets, hedges, etc.- throughout the film. Will Bruno ever be able to finish his work with all these distractions going on?

Lamberto Bava's A BLADE IN THE DARK is a claustrophobic giallo, taking place -almost- entirely on the grounds of the villa. In spite of its single location, it manages to remain interesting and frightening. Is it a bit far-fetched? Yes, but such films have more to do with style and gory terror than with logic. One murder in particular, taking place in a bathroom, is quite gruesome indeed! The "final reveal" is somewhat obvious and abrupt, and it doesn't help that the dubbing makes the killer sound like Mr. Bill, yet, all in all, it's a decent entry from the latter days of the genre...
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6/10
Pretty mediocre Italian horror.
HumanoidOfFlesh18 February 2004
"A Blade in the Dark" is a mediocre horror film.People comparing it to Argento's classics are completely missing the point.Obviously Lamberto Bava does not have the talent of his brilliant father Mario Bava-"A Blade in the Dark" is nothing in comparison to "Blood and Black Lace","A Bay of Blood" or "The Girl Who Knew Too Much".Still "A Blade in the Dark" is quite enjoyable,if you're a fan of Italian horror.Bruno,a music composer is offered a job by a female director to write the music for her newest horror film.He takes on the job and rents a small villa.As soon as he starts his work a series of brutal murders is set in motion.The film is not as scary as some people claim-in fact it's pretty dull.There are some vicious and really bloody murders,particularly the bathroom killing,but there is not enough gore for my liking.The script is sometimes too idiotic and the dubbing is horrible.So if you have enough time to waste give this one a look-just don't expect a masterpiece.
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5/10
longest dragging of a body scene in cinema
christopher-underwood10 February 2017
There is much to enjoy in this film, not least the wild killings and surely the longest dragging of a body scene in cinema. The film is uneven, however, uneven in pace and in quality of scenes. I have just learned that this was originally intended as a four part TV series. This explains the stop, start nature of proceedings which would have made more sense with the movie plot up. Nevertheless there are some great moments and two of the most horrible and drawn out murders in giallo, its just that momentum is not maintained. It also doesn't help that the basement area of the villa used for filming is so vast with numerous rooms and closets, all a drab off white colour. Surely Lamberto's father would have had a field day here, cheering things up eerily with a full pallet of projected colours. Mario Bava would also have made sure that even if he was basically just showing a series of kills that we would be fully involved and feeling some concern and therefore horror as events pan out. So, some great moments but not a great film and for a film about a composer, the music wasn't particularly inspiring, maybe blame the 80s for that though!
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7/10
Another polished horror effort from Lamberto Bava
Red-Barracuda1 May 2012
This is the second of Lamberto Bava's impressive string of horror films in the 80's. It followed in the wake of the excellent Macabre and preceded the highly entertaining Demons. This one was firmly in the slasher/giallo style of films. It's another polished effort from the director and is one of the best gialli of the 80's. Unlike the 70's proto-type Bava's film doesn't really focus too much on the mystery side of the story, although it is still definitely there. It's more a stalk and slash affair, although one with some style and suspense.

It stars, amongst others, future director Michele Soavi. And it is basically about a film composer who rents a remote villa to create the music for a new thriller. While there vicious murders begin to happen.

The story line is nothing out of the ordinary and I would even say things pan out a little predictably. In fact, it's a pretty pedestrian film when it isn't focusing on scenes involving tension or violence. The mystery itself is not especially well thought out and the film as a whole does not have a very good script. The dialogue isn't helped, though, by the particularly bad dubbing. But I can hear a lot of people asking so what, hasn't it ever been thus in this sub-genre of film? Well, this is true but these aspects are made more damaging by the fact that the movie is definitely overlong for what it is and consequently, there is too much padding. It could easily have been trimmed by twenty minutes without sacrificing anything important. If the editing had been tighter, focussing more purely on the horror content at the expense of much of the melodramatics, it would have been a considerably better film.

But I have to say that where A Blade in the Dark really scores is in Bava's good handling of tension and horror. When the film does hone in on this, it's often really effective. I would even go as far as to say that it can be genuinely frightening at times. No mean feat to be honest, considering how most films of its type rarely are. The whole finale in the villa with the killer stalking around half-seen speaking with that creepy voice is really effective. While from a horror perspective there is a bathroom killing sequence that is particularly inventively nasty. The atmosphere throughout is helped by some good camera-work and a fairly decent, if repetitive, score. There are also some memorably stylish moments such as the scene in the pool with roaming underwater photography.

The action rarely moves from the villa which probably hinders the story developing its mystery thread but it's a reasonably effective setting, even if it is a house that is for some reason fitted out with a somewhat disproportionately impractical number of cupboards. The characters themselves act completely stupidly throughout, however, and at any given opportunity actively ignore events that appear incredibly suspicious. For example, tape is ripped from a recording machine and pages in a diary are thrown in a fire indicating a house-invading intruder but our protagonist merely treats these occurrences with mild concern. And when a mysterious girl emerges from a cupboard in his house he doesn't appear to consider this very strange. But I suppose he subsequently then mixes up a spider with a cockroach and later repeats this strange mistake, so I suppose we are not dealing with a character with too much common sense in fairness.

Overall, seeing as this is an 80's giallo I have to cut A Blade in the Dark some slack. Its daftness is sort of endearing to at least a certain extent and it's hardly alone in this when you consider other similar films from the time. But, at the same time, it is successful as a horror film. There's good tension generated at times and it does have a nicely stylish presentation for the most part. It's not going to trouble your brain too much but it's pretty good value as an entertaining example of 80's Italian horror.
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6/10
Dumb but occasionally effective giallo (SPOILERS)
gridoon31 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
The score is creepy, the direction atmospheric and some of the violence (particularly the hand impaling and the strangulation) is brutal and effective. But all those positive qualities almost don't matter - because the script is so dumb, illogical and coincidence-ridden. Seriously, if you found blood stains on the floor, torn pages from a diary and destroyed tapes in a matter of a few minutes, would you really pretend nothing had happened? If you later found even more blood and, on the same spot, marks that match those of the knives in your house, would you still consider the possibility that "maybe it's just my overactive imagination"? Not to mention the corpse that the hero fails to see, although it's right under his nose, or the infamous "It's not a spider, it's a cockroach" scene (it's a spider). The dubbing is atrocious, too, and the final twist seems directly stolen from a well-known De Palma film (you'll know which). And the amusing thing is that, the twist of THAT De Palma film was stolen from an even more famous Hitchcock film....
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5/10
Like a knife in the back.
lost-in-limbo19 August 2007
Composer Bruno is hired to complete the music for an up and coming horror film, and to get the job done without much interruption. He decides to rent out a secluded villa, but his work gets sidetrack when he believes that some ravishing young woman who have disappeared have been murdered within the villa. So naturally he looks into it, and finds out there might actually be a connection there with the old tenant of the house and the movie he's composing.

If there was a film I wanted to like, Lamberto Bava's cruel, perverse Giallo piece "A Blade in the Dark" is one. The concept behind the story showed promised, and the build up to the inventive deaths and their eventual outcomes were sadistically effective. It's a maliciously crazy shocker, and it sure does come off excruciatingly bloody. Lamberto execution showed flair, atmosphere and bite with his swaying visuals. However I found the moments in between terribly slack and Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti's tedious script was just too sloppy and meandering. When the humid material delivers its revelation, we've seen it before to really be surprised and satisfied. Even the performances felt forced, and mainly stuffy. The grating dubbing didn't help one bit. A mundane Andrea Occhipinti never convinced me in the lead and Michele Soavi came off ridiculous. The cast did have some beauties in the shape of Lara Naszinsky (truly gorgeous), Fabiola Toledo (what a stunner) and Valeria Cavalli. Maurizo and Guida De Angelis' forebodingly hypnotic music score was a nice stroke, and there's a creative mixture of bone rattling sound FX. Even the choice of location rubs off nicely with its brooding isolated villa. Gianlorenzo Battaglia's cinematography shows few jolting flourishes, but more often follows the book.

Mediocre, if diverting Giallo that's spoilt in the long run by its unneeded padding and lumbering nature.
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5/10
Not Bad Italian Horror Flick!
gwnightscream7 February 2020
Warning: Spoilers
This 1983 horror film tells of a composer who stays at a villa to write a score for an upcoming horror film. He meets some women that start disappearing and he starts to suspect that they may have been murdered by someone on the property. This isn't bad, except for some of the dubbing, but there are pretty women featured and gory make-up effects. If you're into horror or thrillers, give this a try.
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Pretty enjoyable Argento pastiche.
Infofreak27 November 2003
Okay, Lamberto Bava isn't anywhere near as talented as his father Mario. Let's just accept that and move on. 'A Blade In The Dark' is a surprisingly entertaining giallo that is equal parts Argento and Hitchcock, though obviously not as accomplished as either at their best. If I specify which Hitchcock it is heavily inspired by it'll give the whole game away, so I won't, but I'm sure most viewers will have guessed the twist long before it is revealed. It doesn't really matter, it won't detract from your enjoyment. Andrea Occhipinti from Fulci's 'The New York Ripper' plays Bruno, a young composer who rents a villa while working on a horror movie score. Pretty soon assorted lovelies start disappearing and he fears the worst. He also begins to think the movie he's working on holds the key to the mysterious events around him. The version I watched of this movie was very badly dubbed but it was still effective and stylishly directed, with some gruesome touches. Occhipinti was more than adequate as a hero, there were plenty of babes, and Eurohorror buffs will get a kick out of seeing the kid from Fulci's 'The House By The Cemetery' in a bit part and Michele Soavi (Argento pal and director of cult favourite 'Dellamorte Dellamore') in a supporting role. While I don't think 'A Blade In The Dark' is quite as good as Bava's first 'Demons' movie I enjoyed it a LOT more than I expected, so if you like Argento and Fulci, check it out.
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4/10
Stupid, boring, ineffective
jadavix18 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"A Blade In the Dark" is a stupid, boring movie about a guy scoring a horror film in a villa where women drop in to be murdered. He also has a pervert of a handyman who hangs around spying on the women and providing an obvious red herring.

There's very little nudity and no sex. Only one of the women takes her top off briefly.

The "suspenseful" bits are handled moronically. A lady dives into a swimming pool and the music suddenly turns spooky. Is there something inherently scary about swimming in a swimming pool? No? Then why the music? As soon as she gets out, the music stops. What's the deal? If what's on screen hasn't given us any reason to be scared, scary music just seems bizarre and out of place.

The murder weapon used for the first killing is also ridiculous. It's a Stanley knife with a plastic base. It looks like something you would find on a particularly OCD-having salaryman's desk: you know, the guy in the office who has all his pencils engraved with his name and won't let you borrow anything. It's not anywhere near dangerous enough to kill someone who could put up the least resistance.

Later, a the handyman gets repeatedly bashed with his own spanner (ho ho) and all that comes from it is a bit of fake blood. So why doesn't he resist? He just stands there and let's his noggin get flogged.

Anyway, there's no mystery in this movie. The killer turns out to be someone we haven't met and know nothing about. There are some scenes later on that could have been scary but happen far too late, and after far too many stupid scenes, to be as effective as they could have been in a better movie.

Bava Jr. was apparently no better a filmmaker than Bava Sr., but at least he isn't ridiculously overrated.
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6/10
Patchwork giallo
drownnnsoda29 December 2016
"A Blade in the Dark" follows a musical composer staying in a remote Tuscan villa to work on the score of a horror movie. A series of murders begin to occur in the villa after his arrival, sparking local interest.

Directed by Mario Bava's son, Lamberto Bava, "A Blade in the Dark" is one of the later giallo films to come to fruition, debuting in 1983. Haphazardly dubbed in English (which, as others have noted, is some of the worst dubbing you're likely to ever see), the narrative twists and turns in relatively predictable ways, though there are a few nice surprises to be had, and Bava toys with the movie-within-a-movie trope by having the protagonist scoring a horror film.

The film does succeed at achieving a relatively strong atmosphere, and the hilltop Italian villa locations are breathtaking and eerie. There are some great murder sequences as well, and the film strikes a nice balance between suspense and violence. The performances are decent, although the aforementioned dubbing does distract a bit. The ending is clever and very much in line with the film's giallo dedications, as absurd as it may be.

Overall, "A Blade in the Dark" is, like many films of its type, atmospherically and visually interesting, but narratively convoluted. As an early-eighties entry into the giallo subgenre, it doesn't do much to distinguish itself, and that is where its biggest problem lies. It is reasonably suspenseful, however, and warrants a view from genre fans. Just don't expect Lamberto to live up to his father's legacy. 6/10.
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4/10
Insulting that the name Bava is associated with this rubbish
fertilecelluloid20 November 2005
Lamberto Bava, son of the late, mostly great Mario, directed this atrociously inept "shocker" about a composer stalked by a killer. Not only is the script by Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti a clichéd, illogical mess, Bava's direction (if you can call it that) lacks tension and recycles the most overused cinematic clichés.

The rotten English dubbing does not help things; nor does Gianlorenzo Battaglia's ugly, grainy photography. The acting is wooden, too, and it is particularly galling to see Italy's best living horror director, Michel Soavi, making a fool of himself in one of the film's pivotal roles.

There are a couple of gory murders, the best featuring a hand skewered by a large carving knife. But blood and a sprinkling of guts aside, this is awkward, embarrassingly bad film-making and it's doubly insulting that the name Bava is associated with this stiff rubbish.
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5/10
Gory But Mediocre Giallo-Effort By Lamberto Bava
Director Lamberto Bava is the son of the arguably greatest Horror director who ever lived, the almighty Mario Bava. And while the younger Bava has made some more than decent films himself (such as the hugely entertaining "Dèmoni" of 1985), they do not play in the same category as his father's masterpieces. "La Casa Con La Scala Nel Buio" aka "A Blade in the Dark" of 1983 is Lamberto Bava's contribution to the wonderful Giallo-genre (which was created by his father in the 60s), and while the film is an enjoyable, stylish and supremely gory Giallo, it isn't a very good one. "A Blade in the Dark" begins fantastically with a gruesome scene that turns out to be a sequence of a movie in the movie. Composer Bruno (Andrea Occhiprinti, who also appeared in Fulci's "New York Ripper"), who has moved into an elegant big house in order to work on the score to the film, suddenly finds himself stalked by a psychopathic killer, who is butchering women in the house...

Some people seem to regard this film as a rip-off of Dario Argento's brilliant ultra-brutal 1982 Giallo "Tenebre" (for which Lamberto Bava had served as assistant director), but, personally, I do not see too many parallels, other than the protagonist having a creative job and beautiful women being brutally murdered. The murders are not very numerous for a Giallo, but those that occur are very bloody; one of them is committed with a Stanley knife, another one is one of the most brutal ones ever in a Giallo (and that is quite something regarding the genre's tendency to spectacularly gory killings). The plot has holes, which is not too tragic as such. However, the characters are not properly introduced, nor are they likable, which makes the suspense a lot less intense. In some parts, it is also kinda slow as it includes several unnecessarily uninteresting scenes. The score by the De Angelis brothers is once again great.

Overall, "A Blade in the Dark" is an acceptably stylish and gory Giallo with a somewhat sloppy plot, that may be seen or missed by my fellow Italian Horror fans. It is definitely one of the weaker Gialli out there, but it is still entertaining enough to be worth spending 110 minutes watching it.
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7/10
" I Don't Want To Hurt You...I Only Want Your Blood...."
ferbs5416 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Lamberto Bava's first film as a director, 1980's "Macabre," was supposedly a bit too tame in the violence department to satisfy all the gorehounds out there, so in his next picture, 1983's "A Blade in the Dark," the son of the legendary "Father of the Giallo," Mario Bava, created a bloodbath that might well have made papa proud. Filmed on the cheap in only three weeks at the country villa of producer Luciano Martino, the film is yet surprisingly effective and looks just fine. The plot centers around a young composer named Bruno (appealingly portrayed by Andrea Occhipinti) and the four stunning-looking women in his life. Sandra, a film director (Anny Papa), has just hired him to compose the score for her latest horror film, and has ensconced him in a secluded country villa to get the job done. Bruno, as the viewer soon learns, in not untalented, and the score that he comes up with--and that crops up regularly throughout Bava's film--is quite an eerie one. His work, however, is constantly interrupted by the arrival of his actress girlfriend Julia (Lara Lamberti) and by his two hottie neighbors, models Katia and Angela (Valeria Cavalli and Fabiola Toledo). And when these last two mysteriously disappear, apparently by homicide, and other strange events begin to transpire in his lonely rental pad, Bruno finds himself in a real-life horror situation that puts Sandra's fictional one to shame....

"A Blade in the Dark" takes its time creating atmosphere and delivering shocks. Its deliberate pace has proved offputting for many viewers, it seems, but I found the picture to be consistently suspenseful and interesting. The film's shocks are well placed and the body count is fairly high, although there are a bit too many "false scares" and red herrings for this viewer's taste, cleverly integrated as they are. It is, as I mentioned up top, a fairly violent giallo, and some of the slayings are quite gruesome to behold. In the worst (if I may spoil things for you/prepare you a bit), the victim has her hand impaled by a kitchen knife, her head wrapped in a plastic bag and battered to a bloody pulp, and her neck pierced through with that same blade. Yikearoo! This killer sure does know how to do a thorough job! And I haven't even mentioned his/her weapon of choice: a retractable box cutter that clicks open, segment by excruciating segment. "I find doing scenes in which women get stabbed to death repugnant," Lamberto says in one of this Blue Underground DVD's extras, but that surely did not prevent him from getting his picture made in an effective manner! The slaying just mentioned is one of the most difficult to watch that I have seen in any giallo, and would fit right into papa Mario's gorefest "Bay of Blood" (1971). Lamberto's later giallo film, "Delirium" (1987), was far less sanguinary, by the way, while his two "Demons" films of the mid-'80s combined the gore with a goodly leavening of humor. "Blade" also features a clever script from the remarkably prolific Dardano Sacchetti, although his psychological explanation for the killer's motive is a flimsy one, at best. Indeed, if everyone had a similar reaction to such a paltry stimulus, 1/4 of all human beings would be homicidal maniacs! As for this Blue Underground DVD itself, the print looks just fine, but has been horribly translated and dubbed (resulting in such lines as "Is it possible you're such a vacant nerd?"); subtitles would have been infinitely preferable. Modern-day interviews with Bava and Sacchetti make for nice extras, however, and, in all, the film is a must-see for all gorehound and giallo completists. When it comes to Lamberto and Mario, it would seem, the apple did not fall far from the tree; or perhaps it would be better to say that the blood did not fall far from the vein....
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6/10
this "Blade" shines brighter than most...
Jonny_Numb24 April 2005
Produced at the height of his career, "A Blade in the Dark" marks Lamberto Bava's best directorial effort (certainly better than "Demons" and "Devil Fish"), a slick, intriguing, and sometimes shocking giallo. Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti, of "The New York Ripper") rents an isolated villa to work on the soundtrack for a horror film, only to find himself in the middle of a murder mystery, as young girls meet grisly ends at the hands of an unseen killer. While clearly influenced by the works of Dario Argento, Bava opts for a bland, impersonal color palette that intensifies the mood, combined with a script that has fewer contrivances and red herrings than a typical offering from the aforementioned maestro. The result is a satisfying giallo whose only crime is an occasionally sluggish pace (though this is easily forgivable, as the film was originally intended as a multi-episode TV series)...but stick with it, for ghastly surprises are in store for those who wait.
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