Story: A Blade In The Dark – Bruno is a film composer who retreats to an isolated villa to complete the music to the new horror film he’s just been hired to score. When beautiful women from the area start disappearing and then turning up dead, Bruno becomes obsessed with solving the crimes, fearing they have a morbid connection to the horror film he’s working on. Macabre – A New Orleans wife’s affair with another man is cut short, literally when the two are involved in a horrible car accident, which leaves her lover dead, and herself institutionalized from the trauma. Now that she’s released from the hospital, she’s staying in the room her and her lover always rented, and fulfilling a disturbing and forbidden desire.
The Film Itself: A Blade In The Dark – This was one of the better Italian horror films I’ve seen available on DVD in a long time. The opening 5 minute sequence to this film is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s brief yet creepy and plays into all of our fears of the dark. Then the movie changes gears a bit as we follow Bruno (played here by Italian actor Andrea Occhipinti, also of the ‘New York Ripper’) who becomes suspicious of everyone, once the murders start happening. The movie was supposedly controversial for it’s scenes of graphic violence, and I can see why. There are some beautiful actresses present here, such as Fabiola Toledo, who meets a shocking demise in the bathroom. The film is beautifully directed by Lamberto Bava, who would later go on to do the ‘Demon’ films. And as you’ll see when you watch the film, it’s reminiscent in style to Hitchcock’s Psycho. (for more reason’s then one.) Macabre – Now on the flip side is Lamberto Bava’s first film, Macabre. This is an interesting work. Although horrific in content, I’d consider it more of a psychological & suspenseful thriller. The accident in the beginning of the film is indeed shocking, but the remaining portion of the film is complete suspense. You want to know why the wife is obsessed with her now dead lover and the room they’d share together to fulfill their adulterous desires. The most intriguing part of the film here is actor Stanko Molnar’s (also in ‘A Blade In The Dark’) portrayal of her blind landlord, Robert. We’re pretty much following the movie vicariously thru this blind’s man’s eyes and there’s something about his honest performance, which keeps us flowing with the pace of the film. And then there’s the shocking conclusion. The ending alone is worth the entire picture. And I can see how this film solidified Lamberto Bava as one of the great new directors. (Although supposedly he didn’t find work for a while after ‘Macabre’ until ‘A Blade In The Dark’)
Special Features: Both these films were released separately by Anchor Bay at one point, but this version has both films on one DVD disc. And let me tell you, this is a disc you MUST invest in. Besides the films themselves, which are both presented completely uncensored and uncut, there are theatrical trailers for both films, as well as short making-of featurettes, featuring conversations with director Lamberto Bava. Both featurettes are very informative. From the feature for ‘A Blade In The Dark’, we learn that he preferred this American title for the film and also that originally, the movie was meant to be a 3 part mini-series. The picture and sound options are decent. And considering the inexpensive price at which you can find this double feature, it’s a no-brainer that as a horror fan, you should own this. – robg.<