CONTAINS SOME MINOR SPOILERS
We haven't seen very much of Lamberto Bava recently. According to his Wikipedia page he's generally been pretty busy with Italian TV; probably the last things to be released in the UK were a pair of absolutely terrible low-budget TV movies, The Ogre (retitled Demons 3 for purely marketing purposes) and Graveyard Disturbance, a jawdropping atrocity in which a bunch of hateful teen punks clown about in a cemetery and none of them get killed. Those were on VHS, back in the late eighties. The first two Demons movies, produced by Dario Argento, were variable: the first was entertaining enough but the second was incoherent and saddled with hilarious monster effects that looked like something out of Gremlins.
Before those, he'd knocked out A Blade In The Dark in 1982, a perfectly efficient if slightly overlong giallo which might be a long way from the high or even midpoints of Mario Bava and Dario Argento but is still enjoyable enough and occasionally surprisingly nasty. Film composer Andrea Occipinti moves into a rented villa to work on the soundtrack to a new horror film and is almost immediately besieged by various young women: his girlfriend, the film's director, two of the precious tenant's best friends. But one of them disappears almost immediately; his tapes are destroyed, there's blood on his trousers.... What about the landlord (Michele Soavi)? Or the obviously shifty perverted gardener/handyman shifting rubbish bags around at night? Or is the clue hidden in the film he's working on?
Back in the 1980s the film was cut by the BBFC by around two minutes, principally for a horrible murder sequence in which the victim's head is forced into a plastic bag and repeatedly smashed against the bathroom sink unit while her hand is skewered to the formica with a kitchen knife; happily (?) this has now been restored along with about ten minutes of additional scenes, bringing it up to 107 minutes. The result is that the film drags from time to time - these things should really be over in 90 minutes tops - with too many scenes of our hero and one or other of the ladies wandering the absurdly endless catacombs beneath the villa. Nor is it helped by at least one of the victims transforming into such an unpleasant and unsympathetic cow that it's tough to rustle up any response to her demise beyond "hurrah".
It's also notable for an unbilled cameo appearance by Giovanni Frezza, the child actor who also turned up in Fulci's The Black Cat and The House By The Cemetery as an Annoying Whiny Brat; apparently he's since obtained a degree in physics and a black belt in kungfu, and now works in marketing. A Blade In The Dark is no classic, but it's a decent enough entry in the late giallo stakes: the murderer is reasonably well hidden (I did guess their identity correctly, but then I have seen the film before, albeit more than 20 years ago so I'd forgotten most of it) and it's nice to see a film composer as a leading character. A pity his score sounds like generic Italian horror film music! Nowhere near prime giallo, but more than watchable and pleasantly grisly in spots.
Yeah, I know, it's on Vipco: