Sunday, May 15, 2016

Knife of Ice, Sexual Psychopath and the Helpless Damsel

Umberto Lenzi the Italian director that brought us "Cannibal Ferox" and "Eaten Alive!" also brought us a cutting edge (no pun here) murder mystery, "Knife of Ice" from 1972.  The title is derived from an Edgar Allan Poe quote, which is appropriate as this film utilizes many Poe themes. Like Poe works, this Lenzi film has lots of dead beautiful women.  Carroll Baker ("Giant" and "Baby Doll") was more than 40 years old when she starred in this film, though her appeal as a sex object was still in full force.  Ms. Baker would then turn in a striking performance as a mute damsel, quite helpless, and in much peril.
Martha (Baker) has been mute since a little girl when she witnessed the horrible deaths of her parents. She lives on an Italian estate with her eccentric Uncle Ralph (George Rigaud), who is into the occult and Satanism...but a sweet guy, otherwise.  Her sultry cousin, Jenny (Ida Galli) arrives for a visit..and the fun starts. First we meet the really strange people in Martha's life.  Her driver, Marcos (Eduardo Fajardo) looks like he enjoys torturing puppies.  Her housekeeper, Annie (Silvia Monelli), who is grouchy and perhaps having an affair with Martha's doctor.  Oh yes....Martha's handsome doctor!  Dr. Laurent (Alan Scott), who loves examining buxom young women.  He is smooth, and has bad alibis for everything that is about to happen.
First pretty Jenny is knifed.  We learn that pretty young women have been murdered recently in the area.  The only clue is that Martha remembers a weird guy spying on her and Jenny in the fog.  The police find him later, and guess what...he's a Satanist!  Case solved....right?  Not so fast.  As some of the suspects are murdered, others develop.  Remember this is a weird Italian horror film.  Martha's beloved niece, a little girl, comes across as sickeningly weird...might she be the killer?  Inspector Duran (Franco Fantasia....I love that name) is on the case, and unlike a lot of Italian horror films, he is portrayed as a very capable detective.  His discoveries are shocking.
No spoilers here.  Yep, the ending is hardly routine and very shocking.  At times, Inspector Duran reminds us of Columbo, and his methods assist us in trying to figure out who the killer is.  Watch very closely and you'll figure it out.  Ms. Baker is fantastic as the helpless damsel, and all the suspects look really guilty.  Will the beautiful Martha be the next victim of some satanic sex-fiend? How much squirming will the ending of this Italian horror film cause us?  Available on YouTube, see "Knife of Ice."

1 comment:

  1. A Lenzi film I have never watched. You're awesome Christopher, always manage to inspire me. I shall track this down post-haste. Love me a good shocking ending. Lenzi rarely disappoints. Great review, as always.