Thursday, August 23, 2012
Knife of Ice (1972)
As some of you might have noticed, Umberto Lenzi is one of my favourite filmmakers. A versatile director, able to jump from genre to genre without any hesitation, sometimes a hired gun - but what a hired gun! A pro, from classy cop movies to trashy horror. Like most Italian genre directors he also did a couple of gialli, among them the fairly obscure and not so popular Knife of Ice. Not sure why, but I've stayed a way from it for years - even of the DVD was quite easy to find. Anyway, here's the review - finally!
Martha (Carroll Baker) is mute since childhood, when she was traumatized in a train accident. She now lives with her uncle Ralph (George Rigaud, who also played the weirdo priest in Lenzi's Eyeball) in a nice countryside villa. Her cousin Jenny (Ida Galli) comes to visit them, but soon she falls victim for a serial killer who roams the area. More murders follow and - believe it or not - soon Martha seem to be the killers next victim!
Knife of Ice is a very basic thriller, a co-production between Spain and Italy and far from the craziness of Eyeball or the darkness of Spasmo, but like most films by Lenzi is works pretty good even if the story hardly is unique and the production values just is a villa and some forest and nothing else than that. The story is generic and we've seen it before, but Lenzi elegant use of camera tracking and - as usual - superior editing makes this giallo stand out a little more than I thought.
The cast is very good. Carroll Baker is excellent and Ida Galli, in a small part, is cold and shallow - egocentric, but not so she becomes annoying. George Rigaud has more to do in this one, a less silly character than in Eyeball, works with a character that usually is quite boring for any actor to work with. Visually Knife of Ice is competent, but the location is boring and the story very rarely moves around outside the area, so the film seem a bit flat. Lenzi seem aware of this and tries to liven up the interior shots with smart use of the camera to a certain degree.
I like the story, the script isn't bad at all, but it lacks "it" if you know what I mean. That extra little thing that would make it stand out. A couple of gory murders would have spiced up the story of course, but remember that Lenzi never been a fan of gore (much like Lamberto Bava) and when he used it's mostly because the producers wanted it. The murders here is completely bloodless and off-screen, a pity, but we have to accept what maestro Lenzi wanted with his production.
Marcello Giombini's score is brilliant, the best thing with Knife of Ice. A clear strong melody, emotional cues and just that melodrama we love so much with Italian scores. I need to see if it's been released on CD. A must in my collection!
Knife of Ice is a good little giallo, but maybe mostly for fans of Lenzi - like me!