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No Shame Films presents
A Whisper in the Dark (1976)

"Nothing ever happens around here."
- Camilla (Nathalie Delon)

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: September 29, 2005

Stars: Nathalie Delon, John Phillip Law, Joseph Cotten, Alessandro Poggi, Adriana Russo
Other Stars: Zora Velcova, Lucretia Love, Olga Bisera
Director: Marcello Aliprandi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for nudity, language, sexual situations
Run Time: 01h:42m:21s
Release Date: September 27, 2005
UPC: 882853000297
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-AB B-

DVD Review

The old saying goes "children should be seen and not heard," but what about ones that aren't seen or heard? So it is in Marcello Aliprandi's A Whisper in the Dark (Un sussurro nel buio), in which a boy's imaginary friend turns out to be something rather more than the usual pretend playmate. Rather than a strict horror film, though, Whisper is more of a look at a couple whose marriage is foundering, with some added lashings of suspense thrown in.

At their palatial villa, Alex (John Phillip Law) and Camilla (Nathalie Delon) preside over three kids, the eldest of whom, Martino (Alessandro Poggi), is torturing the rest of the family with his insistence on everyone accepting his imaginary friend, Luca. Alex and Camilla already have a wedge between them, though their troubles are only hinted at, rather than spelled out. Alex, being frozen out by Camilla, has turned to other women, including a friend of Camilla's who has been staying with the family. We learn that crossing Luca and by extension, Martino, is not such a good idea; those who cross him face ugly consequences. But is Luca really there? Alex and Camilla naturally refuse to believe in Martino's "friend," and so call in the Professor (Joseph Cotten) to investigate further. When the Professor meets a bad end, is it Luca, Martino, or simply bad luck?

While Whisper in the Dark may play things a bit ambiguously on the surface, it's fairly plain what stance we're expected to take about Luca; while there is never any direct absolute proof that Luca exists, Aliprandi frames many shots as if from the position of someone hiding or watching the characters, especially when they're investigating a curious noise or event. Letting us see the action from what might be Luca's point of view seems a pretty clear indication of what to believe. Aliprandi also makes extensive use of mirrors and reflections, emphasizing perhaps that this family is the opposite of a normal, happy family. At its heart though, the film puts forth the strife within the family, and Alex and Camilla in particular, as being the real reason for Luca's presence. However, though we are told that Luca is possibly the ghost of Alex and Camilla's miscarried child, there isn't any indication as to why he would choose to haunt them. Little background is given to us beyond what we can infer, though some may find that more appealing than having everything spelled out conveniently.

The performances are generally good; Law is fine as the philandering Alex, and Delon does her best with a difficult role as Camilla; her character spends much of the film on edge as the only adult who seems to believe in Luca. Poggi was well-chosen as the disturbed Martino, giving off a generally creepy vibe thanks to his underplaying of the role. Joseph Cotten, who had generally been relegated to roles in a variety of non-Hollywood genre material by this point, gets the Professor's aura of creepiness right, though his screen time is limited.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: NoShame has done an excellent job on their anamorphic, progressive transfer for Whisper; the colors are rich and vibrant, and I could see little evidence of defects in the picture, even with numerous scenes set in low light or darkness. The transfer is so good that viewers will be able to spot the wire pulling a balloon along during an early scene. Very nice work here.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoItalian, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Given the presence of Law and Cotten, I watched the film with the English soundtrack, and it does the job. There was one noticeable instance of a couple pops in the track, but overall, it's okay. Occasionally, it sounds hollow, but Pino Donaggio's lovely score is highlighted well throughout.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 01h:10m:40s

Extra Extras:
  1. Interview with cinematographer Claudio Cirillo
  2. Booklet with essays
Extras Review: A half-hour plus interview (0h:31m:37s) with cinematographer Claudio Cirillo is included, in which he discusses his entry into the field, as well as his experiences working on this film. It's interesting, but doesn't shed a lot of light on the film, as Cirillo admits he hasn't seen it since it was released. Cirillo also provides an introduction to the film (0h:0m:32s) that cannot be skipped. The theatrical trailer follows, with Italian dialogue but English onscreen text, and it's anamorphic. Finally, a brief series of posters and stills play to music from the film. The enclosed booklet features three short essays by writer Richard Harland Smith, covering other movies with evil kids and bios of Cotten and Law, with filmographies for each.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

A subtle, if not especially scary thriller, A Whisper in the Dark will likely be enjoyed by the Italian horror fan, though it should be noted that the film is completely gore-free. Effective performances and a quality Pino Donaggio score underline the direction of Marcello Aliprandi. The NoShame presentation here is solid.


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