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A Blade in the Dark (1983)

La casa con la scala nel buio (original title)
Unrated | | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 6 August 1983 (Italy)
A killer stalks a composer staying at a posh Tuscany villa while writing the score to a horror film which has an incriminating clue to the killer's identity.


Lamberto Bava


Dardano Sacchetti (story and screenplay), Elisa Briganti (story and screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
Andrea Occhipinti ... Bruno
Anny Papa Anny Papa ... Sandra
Fabiola Toledo ... Angela
Michele Soavi ... Tony Rendina
Valéria Cavalli ... Katia
Stanko Molnar ... Giovanni
Lara Lamberti ... Julia (as Lara Naszinski)


A composer, working in isolation on a score for a horror movie meets two women who used to know his house's former tenant. When the women disappear, he's forced to look into the film he's working on to determine what happened to them, and who's responsible. Written by Brian J. Wright <bjwright@acs.ucalgary.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When the lights go out, the knife goes in.


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Italian

Release Date:

6 August 1983 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

A Blade in the Dark See more »

Filming Locations:

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Stanko Molnar, who plays Giovanni, starred in Lamberto Bava's previous film, Macabre (1980). It was the director's debut prior to making A Blade in the Dark. See more »


Near the beginning of the movie the blade is seen cutting an adult magazine across the woman's right breast (from our point of view). Shortly afterwards when the composer examines the mysterious cuts in the magazine the slice marks appear across the left breast (from our point of view). See more »


Bruno: Tennis balls?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The 2001 UK release is 13.5 mins longer than previous version. The BBFC site says that 2mins of cuts have been restored and the rest is additional material See more »


Referenced in There's Nothing Out There (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Probably not as much red sauce as curious Giallo fans will be expecting, but still well worth a look
3 October 2012 | by happyendingrocksSee all my reviews

Boasting a steady throttle of well-orchestrated suspense, some solid jump-scares, one whopper of a gore set-piece, and a fantastic musical score, this Lamberto Bava vehicle is an uneven but satisfying offering.

The film is centered around a composer who moves into an opulent villa to record the soundtrack for a horror film. He quickly finds himself living one when a series of strange events plunges him into a macabre mystery centered around the house's previous tenant, Linda. A series of female acquaintances of his predecessor begin showing up to provide him tantalizing clues, but then disappear just as suddenly when they are targeted and slayed by a deranged killer with a fondness for sharp objects. As he delves deeper into the cryptic saga of Linda's "secret," he learns that the movie he's working on may hold the key to discovering the dark, hidden truth.

The classic Giallo whodunnit formula is firmly in place, and Bava wisely provides enough suspects, both male and female, to keep things intriguing. We're left to puzzle over the potentiality of the lurking handyman who decorates his walls with pornographic pictures, the slightly batty film director who we imagine may be crafting her own real-life slasher movie, and the jealous girlfriend who bristles at the idea of other women setting foot anywhere near the house. This guessing game isn't stymied until the climax, when our possibilities start getting offed one by one, so the film maintains its mystique throughout.

The opening scene, in which two young boys dare their friend to descend into a creepy, shadow-strewn cellar and a grisly artifact plunges out of the darkness to announce his fate, gets the film off to a rousing start. From there, Bava sets a leisurely but effective pace, unfurling a piece at a time of the overarching enigma and punctuating each act with displays of the killer's prowess for carnage. Genre aficionados may find themselves disappointed by the meager body count leading into the finale, but the engrossing storyline renders this a minor complaint, and as the final act plays out, Bava makes up for lost time by whittling away his remaining cast in quick fashion.

The most gruesome and memorable scene in the film, a deliriously blood-soaked rendezvous in a bathroom, is constructed with a meticulous Hitchcock-ian flair for tension, and the end result is one of the most harrowing clips in the Giallo canon. Bava never quite reached the Grand Guignol via art-house heights of his brilliant countryman Dario Argento, but as evidenced by this particularly stunning segment of Blade, it wasn't because he didn't try.

Granted, there's plenty of silliness on display here, most of it a result of the dubbed dialogue, which at times clearly demonstrates some glaringly awkward translation ("Is it possible you're such a vacant nerd? Your satisfaction is to sit like a frog in the sun?"). Likewise, the concluding summation of the murderer's motivation is so rushed and dicey that the film ends on a fairly humorous note.

The final twist works well enough, but Bava falters a bit there by trying to keep the audience guessing for too long at a point when the solution to the riddle is plainly obvious. By the time we find out who's been holding the titular Blade, there are are only a couple of characters left, so knowing who the killer ISN'T strips the reveal of its big "a-ha" moment.

However, despite its flaws, A Blade In The Dark is an entertaining and cohesive thriller that delivers everything its premise promises. I'll let horror scholars debate whether this is Bava's best film or not; as for myself, I liked it a hell of a lot, and that's more than good enough for me.

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