• Shadows In An Empty Room (Blazing Magnum)



    Released by: Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: April 12th, 2015.
    Director: Alberto De Martino
    Cast: Stuart Whitman, John Saxon, Martin Landau, Tisa Farrow, Carole Laure, Gayle Hunnicutt
    Year: 1976
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    The Movie:

    What do you get when you get an Italian director to shoot an action movie on Canadian soil in a picture that top bills an American cast? You get the puzzlingly titled Shadows In An Empty Room (better known in some circles as Blazing Magnum), that’s what! And thanks to the efforts of Scorpion Releasing and Kino Lorber, this unjustly maligned slice of seventies action and suspense can now be enjoyed without the hassle of tracking down long out of print VHS tapes or dealing with crummy bootleg releases.

    Front and center in the story is Captain Tony Saitta (Stuart Whitman), a cop who patrols the mean streets of Ottawa righting wrongs and catching crooks. When we first meet him he’s taking out some bank robbers in a pretty impressive car chase – but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Shortly after this incident, Saitta’s foxy younger sister, Louise (Carole Laure), winds up dead. It seems that someone poisoned here but who? And why?

    Saitta makes it his mission to bring her killer to justice… HIS kind of justice. So he starts poking around and eventually wonders if a wealthy physician named George Tracer (Martin Landau) might have had something to do with it. By the looks of things, George and Louise were carrying on behind closed doors, which is a no-no, given that the good doctor is a married man. But Saitta doesn’t have the evidence he needs just yet, he can’t be completely positive that Tracer is his man. So with some help from his pal Ned Matthews (John Saxon), he hits the streets – could Louise’s death possibly have anything to do with the attacks on the local transvestite community?

    Fast-paced and unnecessarily violent in the best way possible, Shadows In An Empty Room might sound like a Giallo but no, despite some stylish cinematography and a few red herrings this is much more akin to a vigilante cop/revenge story. A film that has more in common with something like Dirty Harry than with Deep Red, here we see director Alberto De Martino (probably best known for The Anti-Christ) at the top of his game. Not particularly well regarded in comparison to other, better known directors pumping out cop thrillers around the same time, with this picture De Martino hits all the right notes. There’s enough character development in the script from Vincenzo Mannino and Gianfranco Clerici (the man who penned Cannibal Holocaust!) to get us going and once that’s established, the rest of the movie gives us exactly what we want – an incredibly pissed off but admirably single-minded man out to avenge his sister’s death.

    While Stuart Whitman probably isn’t the first name to spring to mind when you think action heroes, his work here is perfect. Whitman has an everyman quality to him that makes him likeable, but he brings to this part a slightly unhinged element of menace. We know that he’s going to go as far as he needs to in order to get what he wants, and if he needs to deal with the thread of transvestite martial artists and take one out with a curling iron then damn it, that’s exactly what he’ll do. Throw in John Saxon as an equally grumpy cop, a supporting role from Tisa Farrow as Louise’s roommate, an appearance from Gayle Hunnicut and a midget crime lord and you don’t need to think too long or too hard about how and why this one shapes up to be as great as it is.

    And we haven’t even talked about the final car chase yet. Shot partially in Ottawa but mostly in nearby Montreal and its surrounding areas, the location photography gives the picture the perfect gritty realism you want when you’re going to trash a bunch of beat up old cars. The movie maximizes the potential this provides and we wind up with such an amazingly over the top chase scene that, really, it’s a crying shame that this movie isn’t better known than it is. The chase sequence here is not just good, it’s Bullitt level great. The stunt driving showcased in the picture is flat out amazing and on top of that, by the time it’s all over with you’ll get to see Whitman shoot a damn helicopter out of the sky with his handgun!

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on this Blu-ray release, framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, is pretty impressive. There’s some minor print damage here and there but nothing too distracting while grain is there but never to the point where it feels excessive. Detail is very strong and colors look really nice here. Black levels are solid and there’s good depth and texture present throughout the film as well.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 mono track on the disc is also very good. Dialogue is strong, clear and nicely balanced while the score has pretty solid presence and range to it. There is some occasional hiss but no distortion and the sound effects and what not, like the screeching of those tires during the final chase scene, sound nice and strong. No alternate language tracks or subtitles of any kind are provided.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Scorpion Releasing titles available through Kino, static menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Shadows In An Empty Room is a top notch seventies revenge thriller highlighted by one of the best car chases ever committed to film! On top of it that sees Stuart Whitman give one of the most intense performances of his career. The Blu-ray release is light on extras but it looks and sounds really nice and gives this oft overlooked picture a decent home video release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
































    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      This movie is a hell of a lot of fun. Gotta pick this up asap!
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      Special mention must be made of the awesome score by Armando Trovaoili. He didn't score many crime films but when he did he brought his "A" game! One of the best. I'm sitting on my copy for company coming this weekend. They've never seen it...can't wait till they see that car chase.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I'm sold
    1. SuperDevilDoctor's Avatar
      SuperDevilDoctor -
      I am definitely going to have to check this out.