Wednesday, October 14, 2020

KNIFE OF ICE (1972) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 13
Total First Time Views: 7
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $927.16

Knife of Ice (1972) d. Umberto Lenzi (Italy/Spain) (91 min) (1st viewing)

After her parents are killed in a horrific train accident, young Martha Caldwell is rendered mute from the shock. Decades later, Martha (Carroll Baker) resides with her protective uncle Ralph (George Rigaud) at his Spanish villa, still unable to speak but enjoying a relatively normal if sheltered life. When her cousin Jenny (Evelyn Stewart) shows up for a visit, the family is targeted by a black-gloved sex maniac who may also be a member of a Satanic cult. With the body count rising along with the number of suspects, Martha and the police attempt to uncover the killer’s identity before it’s too late.

From its opening Edgar Allen Poe quote to its “well, didn’t see THAT coming” climactic twist, this fourth and final collaboration between co-writer/director Umberto Lenzi and Oscar nominee Baker manages to crank out the plot twists and red herrings at a feverish pace without ever resorting to hallucinogenic dream sequences, gratuitous, nudity, or excessive gore like fellow countryman Sergio Martino, Dario Argento, or Lucio Fulci. (That said, sensitive viewers might do well to keep gathering snacks and drinks during the opening credits to avoid the rather cruel and grueling bullfight sequences.)

With a terrific roster of players and an intriguing screenplay by Lenzi and co-writer Felix Tusell (Eyeball), this shows oft-maligned director at the height of his powers. While often identified strictly with his latter-day splatter days (Nightmare City, Eaten Alive, Cannibal Ferox), it may prove to be an eye-opening experience to admire the restraint shown here.

Baker is in fine sympathetic form as our heroine, and while her cryptic phone Morse code tapping system and the “Giallo Killers ‘R’ Us” costume might be a little tough to swallow, the final humdinger reveal more than makes up for it.

Well worth checking out.


Carroll and Umberto’s Final Stab: Interview with author Stephen Thrower (Nightmare USA) (30 min)
“Until the Silence Screams” with Umberto Lenzi (19 min)
Alternate Credit Sequence

Knife of Ice is available now on Blu-ray as part of the Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection from Severin Films and can be ordered HERE:

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