Saturday, June 20

Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (1975)

A.K.A. A Special Magnum for Tony Saitta / Blazing Magnum / Shadows in an Empty Room
Directed by Alberto De Martino
97 Minutes / Vestron Video / Cropped from 2.35:1 to full screen

After the mysterious poisoning of a girl at a college get-together, the brother of the slain who also happens to be a hard-as-nails police captain (Stuart Whitman) sets out determined to find her killer. He and his sergeant (John Saxon) believe it to be a doctor (Martin Landau) known to have something on the side with the girl, but their assumptions are tested when questioning her blind roommate (Tisa Farrow) and the discovery of an expensive necklace.

This is a pretty big case of false advertising judging by the "gialloish" re-title and box artwork above. This is definitely action/crime first with a small slice of euro-thriller on the side. Though this isn't a bad thing since it's quite a crackling mix between the Italian and American cop action aesthetics. Whitman is essentially Dirty Harry with an acute hint of British harshness as he beats the piss out of thug and non-thugs alike in his personal quest. He even gets in an apartment-destroying tussle with three transvestites and nearly falls off the side of the building in the process. Saxon amounts to tough wallpaper with nothing to do besides be to Whitman's left throughout. Landau is dependable as usual and Farrow looks distinctly younger than when seen a few years later in Fulci's Zombie.

There's a seriously kick ass car chase sequence towards the latter half ripping through urban streets, highways, and sharp grassy knolls. Being shot in Canada gives the added advantage of seeing '70s Plymouth boats clashing together instead of the usual needling Alfas in Italian actioners. Armando Trovajoli's score really adds to the poliziesco feel, but becomes repetitive being mostly subtle changes to the main theme. Twists and turns come logically and the climax is well handled making the proceedings feel even more worth the time. Now where's the damn DVD?

VHS Picture: 5/10
VHS Sound: 6/10

1 comment:

Samuel Wilson said...

Unfortunately, the nearest thing to the damn DVD so far is a dupey copy under the Blazing Magnum title in Grindhouse Experience Vol. 2. It's still worth a look for the car chase and Whitman's epic battle with the cross-dressers. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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