A BLADE IN THE DARK a/k/a La casa con la scala nel buio

A BLADE IN THE DARK is a silly take on the Psycho reveal. A pretty composer tries to unravel the mystery of some girl who shows up to use the pool, almost seduces him, disappears, but leaves behind a clue and an incomplete diary. He has a very hot but total loser aspiring actress girlfriend, who is really mean to him. There is a sweaty grounds keeper, complete with the girly centerfolds in his boiler squat. There are no police anywhere. And the whole affair smacks a bit of a trapped room nightmare plodding. So the story is thin and the murderer is pretty predictable, I mean we know what’s coming in the first 3rd of the movie.

But Lamberto delivers some jolts and, as he says in the commentary, a woman dies every thirty minutes. The movie was structured for episodic television broadcast, though I wonder how much of the jarring brutality would actually have made it on television.  The most brutal sequence is the bathroom attack. After being stabbed through the hand and illustrating why crucifixion nails were not typically hammered into the palm, a woman gets a plastic bag over her head as she is slammed against the bathroom sink. Its the blood on the teeth that made the scene so graphic. The fact that the movie kills off some of the characters it does manages to establish the only tension in the movie, no one is truly safe! Unfortunately, this tension is not established until the last reel.

But I am a BOY!

There is a great subtext in the movie as the composer is working on a horror film’s soundtrack in the movie. The movie begins with a sequence in which a group of little boys taunt and tease and generally peer pressure poor little Giovanni Frezza, the go to kid of the Italian horror industry, into descending into a creepy basement, alone. To prove his manliness. What emerges from the basement are some scary screams and a blood soaked tennis ball. The best fetish object ever introduced by a giallo, a genre rife with them. If the ending of the movie is not immediately apparent to you at this point, well, I guess…I dunno about you.

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