A Blade in the Dark

A Blade in the Dark (Italian: La casa con la scala nel buio, lit. 'The House with the Dark Staircase') is a 1983 Italian giallo film directed by Lamberto Bava. Originally planned for television, the film was made as a nearly two hour piece split into four parts which would end with a murder scene. After the film was found to be too gory for Italian television censors, it was re-edited to be a feature film.

A Blade in the Dark
Italian theatrical release poster
Directed byLamberto Bava
Produced by
Screenplay by
Music byGuido & Maurizio De Angelis[1]
CinematographyGianlorenzo Battaglia[1]
Edited byLamberto Bava[1]
Release date
  • 6 August 1983 (1983-08-06) (Italy)


Bruno, a composer, is hired to do the soundtrack for an upcoming horror film, and to help him concentrate, he moves into a rented villa for a few weeks. Several of the tenants and neighbors are murdered by a razor-wielding slasher, and there is a weird next door neighbor who is a key suspect.



Lamberto Bava was offered to direct A Blade in the Dark while he was assisting Dario Argento on Tenebrae (1982).[3] The film was written by the husband and wife writing team of Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti.[3] Bava and Sacchetti recalled that their collaboration was difficult, with the two being more friendly during the production of Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971), but their approach to this film was at odds with each other.[3]

The film was initially commissioned to be made for Italian television by producer Mino Loy and have been aired in four 30 minute segments.[3] Bava explained that his initial goal was to have a shocking murder at the end of each of these segments.[3] Producer Luciano Martino provided his villa as a location for filming.[3]


When the film was presented to the television censors, it was found to be too gory to be aired. Rather than edit the film, the producers instructed Bava to cut the film into a single feature.[3] This led to the image shot on 16mm to be blown up to 35mm for theatrical distribution[3][4] The film was released in Italy on August 6, 1983.[5]

Troy Howarth in his book on giallo films described the English dubbing of the film as "some of the worst to be inflicted upon any giallo".[3] The film was released three times on DVD in the United States. The first time in 2001 by Anchor Bay Entertainment.[6] The company subsequently re-released it in 2003 on a double feature DVD with Lamberto Bava's Macabre.[7] Both these versions are out of print. The third DVD release came from Blue Underground in 2007.[8]

On Blu-ray, the film was released for the first time by 88 Films on August 23, 2015.[9]

Critical reception

AllMovie gave the film a mixed review, writing, "Lamberto Bava eschews complex mystery in favor of elaborate stalk-and-slash sequences, with only partial success".[10]



  1. Howarth 2015, p. 110.
  2. Luther-Smith 1999, p. 10.
  3. Howarth 2015, p. 111.
  4. Howarth 2015, p. 112.
  5. Firsching, Robert. "A Blade in the Dark". AllMovie. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
  6. "Blade In The Dark, A DVD @ DVD Empire". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  7. "Blade In The Dark / Macabre (Drive-In Double Feature) DVD @ DVD Empire". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  8. "Blade In The Dark, A DVD @ DVD Empire". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  9. "A Blade in the Dark (Blu-ray) – The Italian Collection 6". 88 Films. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  10. Firsching, Robert. "A Blade in the Dark - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 30 July 2012.


  • Howarth, Troy (2015). So Deadly, So Perverse. 2. Midnight Marquee Press. ISBN 1936168588.
  • Luther-Smith, Adrian (1999). Blood and Black Lace: The Definitive Guide to Italian Sex and Horror Movies. Stray Cat Publishing.
  • Paul, Louis (2005). Italian Horror Film Directors. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-8749-3.

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