Theatrical Release: March 9, 1976 (Italy)
Blu Ray Release: April 12, 2016
Director: Alberto De Martino
Review by James Klein
One of the many reasons I love doing reviews for Unrated Film is being able to watch an obscure movie, a movie I had never heard of before, watching it for the first time and being thoroughly entertained. Shadows in an Empty Room did just that. Talk about a pleasant surprise. A mix of Dirty Harry in a giallo-esque atmosphere, Shadows in an Empty Room while flawed, is a film I gotta recommend.
Shot in Canada with a an Italian crew, the muddled story is about a doctor (Martin Landau, Ed Wood and Alone in the Dark) whose having a secret affair with a college girl named Louise (Carole Laure, Naked Massacre and Victory) who suddenly dies in the doctor’s hands amongst the students on campus. Did the doctor poison the girl to keep her quiet about their affair? Or was the good doctor set up to take the fall?
In a slam-bang introduction, the audience is soon introduced to Captain Tony Siatta (Stuart Whitman, Guyana: Cult of the Damned and The Monster Club) whose racing after a bunch of bank robbers until he is able to blow them away with his magnum. While no Clint Eastwood, Siatta is a hard-ass cop who takes no shit dealing with criminals and suspects. Obviously inspired by the Dirty Harry films, Siatta shoots first and asks questions later. His sister just so happens to be Louise so when he finds out she is dead, he and his partner Sgt. Ned Matthews (John Saxon, Tenebrae and A Nightmare on Elm Street) take the case to find out who the killer is as bodies start to pile up.
The movie is not without a few WTF moments. There is a strange subplot about a bunch of transsexual prostitutes that suddenly turns into an all out brawl with bodies flying through windows and into pools that had me laughing. There are also a few creepy moments with Louise’s blind room mate Julie (Tisa Farrow, Fingers and Zombie) being stalked by an unseen killer and an unsuspecting victim being thrown in a stone grinder. One could complain that the tone is all over the map as the movie doesn’t know if it wants to be a whodunit thriller or a straight up action film. It didn’t bother me as I got a kick out of the mesh between the two genres.
For fans of car chases, especially good old fashioned 70’s muscles cars, there is a pretty lengthy and dangerous looking car chase that goes on for quite a while that not only had me roaring with laughter at how nuts it was but also wondering if I am the only person who misses good old fashioned car chases without CGI where the shots range from sick close ups to gorgeous looking long shots as these pieces of machinery go through hell. Fans of modern car movies like The Fast and the Furious series I doubt will appreciate these old school moments. I’d even go on a limb and say this is one of the more entertaining car chase sequences I have ever seen on film and could go up against the likes of Bullitt, The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A. and Ronin.
While the final showdown with the killer is a bit anti-climatic, almost reminding me of the climax in the third Dirty Harry entry The Enforcer, I still had a great time watching this strange action thriller. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the out of nowhere gratuitous nudity in the third act where the camera literally stops on a pair of gorgeous breasts and holds it there.
Kino partnered up with Scorpion Releasing to present this wonderful obscure gem to the HD world. While there is some noticeable print damage, the picture looks nice and colors look sharp. The 2.0 DTS sound mix isn’t all that impressive as I had to turn up the volume during some of the quieter moments and turn it down during some of the more exciting moments. With noticeable hiss too, this is a bit of a disappointment. Another disappointment is that there is only a trailer for the film (under the less than impressive title Blazing Magnum) and a few trailers for other Kino releases. Thankfully much of the cast is still alive so why not a commentary track or an interview? I guess I should be happy Shadows in an Empty Room is even available to watch on blu ray. Regardless I still recommend this one.
Blu Ray Rating: