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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Blade in the Dark aka "La Casa con la scala nel buio" [Blu-ray]


(Lamberto Bava, 1983)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Nuova Dania Cinematografica

Video: 88 Films



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:46:55.575  

Disc Size: 37,778,262,688 bytes

Feature Size: 33,114,593,280 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: August 24th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 1882 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1882 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, none



Interview with Cinematographer Gianlorenzo Battaglia (19:10)
Archive Q&A with Lamberto Bava, moderated by Calum Waddell (50:08)
Italian Opening Credits (1:21)
Italian Closing Credits (0:47)
Reversible Sleeve with alternative art
Includes a Collectible Original Poster Post Card





Description: Lamberto Bava may be best known for the lunatic lacerations of his DEMONS franchise but A BLADE IN THE DARK is, arguably, his most terrifying offering to date!

A Giallo blood-opera, which features some of the most gruelling sequences in the genre’s vast canon, A BLADE IN THE DARK holes up a talented composer in a spacious Tuscany retreat. Unfortunately, a maniac is prowling the immediate environment and no one, including our heroic musician, is safe from this hack-happy psychopath's collection of dangerously sharp weapons. Co-starring the legendary Michele Soavi (later the director of STAGEFRIGHT and THE CHURCH) and written by the equally iconic twosome of Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti (ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS/ THE BEYOND), A BLADE IN THE DARK is one of the finest gore-epics from the halcyon days of Italian horror madness.



The Film:

Both Midnight Killer and Delirium are more than worthy of further investigation but A Blade in The Dark from 1983 is perhaps the closest he came to rivalling the likes of Argento. Originally shot as a four-part mini-series for Italian TV, it was rejected by networks for being too excessively violent for a television audience, and the decision was made to turn it into a full-length feature.

The winds of change had already been set in motion after Argento’s 1982 masterpiece Tenebrae dared to stray from the traditional formula and offer something which, despite featuring all the hallmarks of a traditional Giallo, was significantly different to its seventies cousins. The slasher craze was already taking America by storm and haunted house features like Peter Medak’s The Changeling were also making ripples across the Atlantic so Bava decided to adapt to the changing marketplace and incorporate these elements into his story.

Excerpt from RiversofGrue located HERE

Adding to the film’s charm is the presence of Michele Soavi, both as assistant director AND Bruno’s landlord, Tony – charismatically stealing scenes during his limited screen time, even with the dodgy English dubbing! That being said, despite him being involved, Dardano Sacchetti’s script suffers from some baffling dialogue interactions – notably between our lead and the various, attractive female characters, who do everything they can to woo our reserved hero within seconds of meeting him – that hinder the film’s integrity. This may partly be due to the fact ABITD was initially invented as a 4-part television series, but later edited into a feature length film.

Despite trendy claims Lamberto Bava relied on his dad’s reputation to get a cinematic leg-up, he’s created a solid, enjoyable entry to the sub-genre here. Considering the small budget, A BLADE IN THE DARK makes a nice companion piece for Giallo heavyweights such as Suspiria or any super Mario classic.

Excerpt from UKHorrorScene located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

A Blade in the Dark gets a 1080P transfer to Blu-ray from 88 Films. It's dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. It offers both the English and Italian versions - seamless (exact same transfer.) The HD supports a reasonable image - colors seem a bit dull (faded?) but detail seems strong and there is some film-like heaviness.  It's quite clean and consistent but not a stellar or dynamic Blu-ray presentation.



















Audio :

Both English and Italian tracks on the Blu-ray of A Blade in the Dark are available. The English is in linear PCM and the Italian in DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel (24-bit). The post-DUB'ing has mismatches but they don't hinder appreciation. There are a few aggressive effects including exaggerative screams. There are optional English subtitles the Italian track, with different translations from the English DUB.  The score by Guido and Maurizio de Angelis (2019 After the Fall of new York, Torso) is suitable to the film's surface qualities and benefits from the uncompressed rendering. My Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

88 Films include a lengthy Q&A with Lamberto Bava, moderated by Calum Waddell. They discuss his work with his father, and other directors of the genre. Also included is a 20-minute interview with cinematographer Gianlorenzo Battaglia in Italian. He discusses some of the Bava (Mario) films he worked on and it ends up being informative. There are the opening and closing Italian credits, reversible sleeve art and a collectible original poster post card.



A Blade in the Dark is bona-fide Giallo, but some may find the twist-ending pedestrian and/or telegraphed. While not a at the level of his father's work has value as an intriguing murder mystery - made with some style.  The 88 Films Blu-ray provides a decent a/v presentation with appreciated supplements in the interview and Q+A. Giallo completists need to own this. 

Gary Tooze

August 30th, 2017



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