Knives of the Avenger / I coltelli del vendicatore (1966)

3.5 out of 5

It may be all about the Vikings, or at least some Vikings, but Knives of the Avenger, in truth, is a western of sorts. Knives of the Avenger takes classic spaghetti western themes, such as the mysterious stranger, revenge and redemption, and re-dresses the whole cast in furs to make a genre shift into the realm of sword and sandal cinema. Indeed, this is one of a number of forays in this area of film from director Mario Bava, including another Cameron Mitchell led Viking effort Erik the Conqueror. Here, the western theme is further underscored by an harmonica infused, oater-friendly score from Marcello Giombini. The difference being, aside from costuming, the action consisting of knife throwing as opposed to gunslinging.

Being a Mario Bava film it should come as no surprise to learn that the film is visually quite incredible. Bava, who was to the use of light what Jacques Tourneur was to shadows, bathes the later scenes in a cave in the most delicious gels. Okay, this is not to the overwhelming extent of the wonderful Hercules in the Haunted World, but the style is certainly recognisable.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics