A film composer, working on the score of a new horror movie, finds out that it seems to hold the key to a series of gruesome murders...
On his first night in an isolated villa, rented so he can work on his music score in peace, Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti) finds a young woman called Katia hiding in his closet. When she disappears, he finds and reads some pages from her diary, which leads him to believe that Katia was there to meet the previous tenant, a woman called Linda. Katia's disappearance seems linked to a 'secret', mentioned in the pages of the diary.
Actually, Katia has been brutally murdered; when her friend turns up for a swim in the pool, she too meets a grisly end (in the film's most pleasingly violent scene), as soon as Bruno's back is turned. It appears that ''Linda'' is still around, and desperate to keep this secret of hers from seeing the light of day.
When Bruno confides in Kate Bush look-alike, Sandra (Anny Papa) -- the director of the movie he's working on -- it emerges that she has based her film on someone she once knew, who also happened to be called Linda, and the key to the secret is in the last reel of the film which no one is allowed to see.
So ... what is Linda's secret? and who is really the murderer? Could it be Julia, Bruno's scatty girlfriend? or perhaps Giovanni, the odd, porn loving caretaker? what about Tony, the dull landlord? Well, it's gotta be one of these, because they're the only other characters in the film!
This early eighties giallo is director Lamberto Bava's second film. It was initially supposed to be a four part television series, but was edited into a feature length film and blown up from 16 mm to 35 mm. Immediately before starting work on ''... Blade'' (it's original Italian title translates as ''House of the Dark Stairway''), Bava had worked as assistant director on Dario Argento's ''Tenebre'', and most of the things that make it worth watching seem to owe a debt to Argento's film: The blue tinted lighting in the outdoor night scenes; the centrepiece murder sequence with extreme gore, and the sackfuls of gorgeous looking Italian women who get killed off in protractedly gory ways!
There is certainly plenty here to keep the giallo lover entertained, but ''A Blade in the Dark'' is not completely successful. Dardano Sacchetti's script suffers from some daft dialogue exchanges between Bruno and the various female characters, that aren't remotely amusing and just slow things down unnecessarily. Lamberto has claimed that the film is meant to be a parody of ''gore'' films, but this seems more a rationalisation for the ill ease he appears to feel for this kind of material. His father, Mario Bava invented and enthusiastically developed the gialli format over the course of his career, culminating in the Sacchetti scripted ''Bay of Blood'' -- the template for the American ''slasher'' genre. But it was Dario Argento who picked up the baton and took the giallo to new heights... Lamberto has just dabbled, with mixed results!
''Blade'' does contain references to Lamberto's favourite of all his father's films, ''Kill Baby...Kill!'' -- that film concerned a ghostly child with a bouncing ball; the killer in ''Blade'' has an obsession with bouncing tennis balls (!?). The little girl in ''Kill'' was played by a boy in drag, while ''Blade'' ends with the image of a little boy in drag.
Beside this connection with the past, Lamberto's film is also notable for showcasing the talents of the then upcoming Michele Soavi. He is the assistant director on ''Blade'', and also play's a key role in the film.
Really, Lamberto Bava has made a perfectly adequate little giallo here. Considering the very small budget he was working on, the look of the film is quite polished. Anchor Bay's presentation is a little grainier than usual, but that may be down to the fact that the film was originally shot on 16 mm. The biggest drawback is that the film's very small cast means that by the last quarter of the film, the identity of the killer is fairly easy to guess, since there aren't that many characters left alive!
Anchor Bay present this movie in anomorphic 1:85:1 widescreen, with Dolby Digital mono. There is a short featurette, ''Behind the Blade'', containing interviews with Bava and Sacchetti, who give some background on the genesis of the film. The only other extras are a theatrical trailer (which gives away all the murders, and actually shows the killer's face for a second!), and some talent bios of Lamberto Bava and Dardano Sacchetti. If you like gialli, you should definitely check this out, if you haven't already done so; it's no classic, but it does have it's moments.