aka BLAZING MAGNUM
aka SHADOWS IN AN EMPTY ROOM
(Italy/Canada - 1977)
Directed by Martin Herbert (Alberto De Martino). Written by Vincent Mann (Vincenzo Mannino) and Frank Clark (Gianfranco Clerici). Cast: Stuart Whitman, John Saxon, Martin Landau, Gayle Hunnicutt, Tisa Farrow, Carole Laure, Jean Leclerc, Jean Marchand, Anthony Forest. (R, 99 mins)
Filmed as BLAZING MAGNUM, this Italian/Canadian co-production was sold in the US by AIP as STRANGE SHADOWS IN AN EMPTY ROOM, with chillingly effective poster art that unfortunately has little to do with the actual film. Coming from producer Edmondo Amati (THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE) and the same creative personnel behind the goat-tastic 1974 EXORCIST ripoff THE ANTICHRIST, which wouldn't even be released in the US until late 1978 as THE TEMPTER, STRANGE SHADOWS is a very American-looking police procedural that happens to be shot and set in Montreal. Almost everyone is hiding behind Americanized pseudonyms--director Alberto De Martino is "Martin Herbert," while screenwriters Vincenzo Mannino and Gianfranco Clerici (a pair who also collaborated on the scripts for HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK and THE NEW YORK RIPPER) have been respectively rechristened "Vincent Mann" and "Frank Clark"--an exception being composer Armando Trovajoli, whose moody, jazzy score wouldn't be at all out of place in a then-contemporary cop show on TV. Only in a late-film flashback does STRANGE SHADOWS feel even remotely Italian, and even the end, with the camera pulling away from the obligatory pissed-off, plays-by-his-own-rules cop in an aerial shot as he walks away in disgust, looks like the final shot of any DIRTY HARRY movie. Poliziotteschi may have been big in Italy at this time, but STRANGE SHADOWS is only very vaguely indebted to them, playing more like a Canadian tax shelter actioner with some DIRTY HARRY/FRENCH CONNECTION overtures and some slight hints at giallo. The US poster is a selling a horror film that's really a mean-spirited little gem of a cop movie that's just been resurrected on Blu-ray by Kino (which drops the "STRANGE" and is now just called SHADOWS IN AN EMPTY ROOM) but it stands out as an Italian cop thriller that seemingly makes strenuous effort to be as North American as possible.
HOLOCAUST 2000 (aka THE CHOSEN and RAIN OF FIRE), an Italian OMEN ripoff with plenty of spectacularly gory deaths and a fully-committed and full-frontal Kirk Douglas giving it his all at the beginning of his exhibitionism phase.