A Blade in the Dark (1980s Italian Slasher Splatter)


At the beginning of the 1980s, a violent New Wave of Italian splatter began washing up on these shores. Thanks to the international success of the work of Dario Argento, enterprising distribution houses were taking stabs at bringing Eurohorror to the plebes. Before disappearing into a mess of TV movies and bad rehashes of past glories, Lamberto Bava’s flame shone brightly as an emerging new force in Pasta Land. A Blade in the Dark (aka The House with the Dark Staircase), when viewed today, stands tall as one of the era’s finest and a clear transition from the Giallos of the 70s to the slashers of the 80s. Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti from Fulci’s New York Ripper and the Bo Derek fiasco Bolero) is a successful composer hired by a hungry young tyro to score a horror film in a deserted Italian villa. Almost from the word go, strange and sinister things begin happening all around him and the lurking feeling of an uninvited guest surrounds him at all times. The fun begins at that moment.


Shot on 16mm for Italian television, A Blade in the Dark so satisfied its producers that it was re-edited by Bava for theatrical release. This 96-minute cut is the preferred version by most viewers although the 108-minute complete version released by Anchor Bay twenty years ago makes a little bit more sense as far as plotting is concerned. Then again, no one goes to a movie like this for tight plotting. A Blade in the Dark is a shock machine through and through, with a haunting score and several jarring moments of brutal violence that will leave the viewer absolutely breathless. Vinegar Syndrome once again do the Lord’s work, presenting A Blade in the Dark in a stunning 4-disc set. The UHD version of both cuts are simply gorgeous to behold, with just the proper amount of grain and rich, vivid colors. As far as the pair of audio commentaries goes, special praise must be given to Kat Ellinger who goes above and beyond delivering a fair yet passionate defense of this curious little film. Interviews with Bava and screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti round up the new features. The rest are ported over from the Anchor Bay set save for the essential 2019 documentary All the Colors of Giallo. In closing, A Blade in the Dark is a guaranteed sure thing and a whole lot of fun if you’re in the mood for some delicious jump scares with your splatter. Vinegar Syndrome continue their perfect track record with this simply amazing release.


Written by David, Comptroller of Your Last Scrap of Existence

A Blade in the Dark (1983, 2023 Blu-ray)
Director: Lamberto Bava
Distributor: Vinegar Syndrome
5 / 5