Bruno has been hired to score the latest film from horror director Sandra. This is her most controversial work. It is about a childhood friend who was ruthlessly bullied and taunted until they died mysteriously. Bruno has hired a villa in the suburbs to help him finish the work but it is a place with a past. The former occupant disappeared and was never seen again. They left behind a few pieces and when Bruno explores he finds a young woman is hiding out there. She disappears and now it seems as if the place itself is cursed. All is not adding up as the people vanish and strange things are afoot. Add to this the creepy garden keeper that likes to stare in from the windows and look at porn all day long. A strange world indeed has been revealed before his eyes.
Mario Bava was the gravity that pulled many into his orbit and made Italian horror cinema so popular. His contribution cannot be understated in regards to the growth of the 60s and 70s Italian film as a competitor to American cinema. He inspired many great film makers and some of his films have created such adoration as to be remade into films that you know and love. Alien for instance is a rip from his 1965 film The Planet of the Vampires. Yes that film you thought was unique and Ridley’s vision is almost chapter and verse a steal from this great man. So when Lamberto Bava, his son came to direct it would be hard for him to escape this shadow. So he did what anyone in this position would, he literally made films in the same genre as his father and as replication of his peers. In truth his films were less successful but they still have wonderful imagination.
As genre cinema that is directly inspired by the work of others, he was a master. Take A Blade in the Dark as an almost standing ovation to that other master work of Italian cinema Tenebrae. The use of camera as POV for the killer is Hitchcock and Argento heavy. The wonderful tracked movement through clean and clear spaces that are explored and investigated are like Bava senior. The compositions that create reflection and are bold. The diffusion of scenes that build tension are brilliant in experiment. With the story it is hard to get as excited. Film within a film is a familiar format. The idea that film could use itself as inspiration has existed since its very creation and here it is not venturing into new grounds. This technique makes the film become very laboured toward the middle half of the second act. You know what is going to happen and yet have to wait while un needed exposition is dealt with. Albeit beautiful and technically well shot exposition.
I want to highlight that above point however. A Blade In The Dark has actually taken another film as its direct inspiration. It has taken that film and reflected this inspiration in its use of another film. Very postmodern I know but hold on a second. That is what Bava did best. He took his fathers gothic desire and made Macabre, Here he has taken his friend Argentos film and made it an homage to his work. Argento perfected the stalk and slash and so has Bava in its filmed construction. This visual homage has all been lovingly detailed in the new remastered Blu ray. A treat to rewatch and re engage with. The sound also feels cleaner and less baggage as the older DVD versions had. They cracked and whistled slightly but enough to annoy and deter. The extras however are weak and this is very sad. 88 Films are working on this and trying to build from a small base.
- Interview with Cinematographer Gianlorenzo Battaglia (Opens a door on the visual style but little else)
- Archive Q&A with Lamberto Bava, moderated by Calum Waddell (This is great and Calum is a superb interviewer!)
- Region Code: B
- Picture Format: HD 1080p 1.66:1
- Audio Format: LPCM Mono