In true 80s-Italian-horror fashion, director Lamberto Bava, son of director Mario Bava, proves that film creators are more psychosexually messed up than the characters in their films. I’m taking on 1980’s Macabre and 1983’s A Blade in the Dark not because they are both by Lamberto Bava, who also directed two of my favorite horror movies of all time (Demons and Demons 2), but because they are on a double feature DVD. And I’ll say right off that this is spoiler-free…as in, I’m giving away free spoilers because there’s no way I can have fun talking about these movies without completely ruining the endings for you.
Macabre is a deliciously sleazy film in which there are no redeeming qualities to any of the characters, including the blind guy you should feel bad for as he pines over a woman he can’t even see yet is somehow completely turned on by.
Psychosexual horror plots don’t get any better than this. This whoring mother leaves her daughter and son alone at home so she can go to an apartment she rents solely for screwing her lover. For no apparent reason, the old lady landlord lets the mother whore come into the bathroom where her blind adult son is bathing, which is really uncomfortable for everyone involved—and by that, I mean me watching and the actors having to play the roles (at least, I HOPE it made them uncomfortable).
Mother whore gets all the glory of her lover while her daughter back home has all the guts; this crazy little bitch kills her baby bro! Mother whore gets a call he’s dead, her lover drives her home at full speed, they get into a horrible accident…and her lover’s head goes flying.
A year later, mother whore is out of the mental home and back in her old apartment. The blind guy’s mom died, so he’s the landlord. He listens regularly as mother whore has imaginary sex with the lover she still imagines is alive. Well…not quite. The whore keeps his head in the fricking freezer and takes it out at night and makes love to it! Oh yeah. This is some messed up shit.
Her crazy little bitch daughter comes to visit, finds the lover’s head, cuts pieces off, and cooks it for mother whore for dinner. So mother whore freaks out when she munches on an ear at the dinner table instead of nibbling on it in bed. Crazy little bitch daughter admits she killed baby bro, mother whore drowns crazy little bitch daughter, blind guy fights mother whore and torches her face, and then blind guy climbs in bed with what remains of the lover’s head…which leaps up and latches on to his throat for one last shocker! The end.
Fucked up, right? It’s all worth it just to get to see one guy giving another guy head.
In comparison, A Blade in the Dark is a typical 80s slasher with cringe-worthy Euro gore.
The opening is incredibly intriguing. Three boys come to a scary house—and one of them is the blond bowl cut kid from House by the Cemetery that everyone loves to hate. But really, it’s not his fault. It’s the English dubbing. Anyway, he’s being bullied, the other boys repeatedly calling him a girl until he finally goes down the steps to fetch their ball (brings back such fond playground memories for me). The ball flies back up and smashes against a wall, leaving a bloody print. Break to awesome creepy 80s soundtrack music. This movie HAS to be a winner…I assumed.
But alas, that opening is just a clip from a horror movie our lead musician character is scoring! Bummer. The musician spends the entire movie fending off women who just show up at his house trying to get it on with him! WTF is this movie? This dude doesn’t take what’s being served up, but the women get split in two anyway–by a switchblade, which is by far the star of this film, getting the most camera time.
Meanwhile, our musician walks around shadowy dark halls (it feels like the original Resident Evil video game), and the score he’s composing works as the soundtrack to the film. He has one male friend who comes to visit occasionally and a caretaker who’s supposed to be creepy and a suspect, but is too young and cute for it to be believable!
What it all comes down to is that the real threat to women in society is the gay/gender confused/cross dressing/female hating man. Despite a twist showing a young boy dressed in women’s clothes, even when this film was made in 1983 it wasn’t an original idea: Psycho, Homicidal, Dressed to Kill, etc. But obviously, this simply HAS to be the reason why a man would mutilate beautiful women! No straight man would ever do such a thing!
Would it be wrong to say I miss the good old ignorant days of horror sometimes?