A Knife For The Ladies/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
A one of a kind mash-up of the slasher and western genres, this unique hybrid stars Jeff Cooper (Kaliman The Incredible, Born Losers) as a nineteenth-century detective from the big city brought out to a small frontier town to solve a series of murders. He immediately clashes with the aging local sheriff (Jack Elam of Once Upon A Time in The West) over how best to handle the investigation. Women continue to be murdered nearly every night and the two have to learn to work together and quickly to best solve mystery.
Director Larry G Spangler starts things off right with a nice, long and creepy tracking shot as we stalk and murder the first woman. It’s not quite Italian giallo, but noteworthy given the early stages of the genre. The title shot is great too. The murders aren’t particularly violent or choreographed, but an element of sex appeal is still implored which keeps it satisfying enough. Spangler directed almost exclusively westerns and one can only presume this picture was simply tailored as something just a little bit different to appease a new audience because the film still is mostly a western. Our leads are rough and tumble men who bond over physical roughhousing, heavy alcoholism, and the cliché father-figure dynamics - none of which I find dissatisfying. Heavier slasher influences would’ve balanced the film better, but I nonetheless applaud this strange hybrid.
The movie starts as a slasher, turns into a western, and then ends as a V.C. Andrews novel so there’s almost something for everyone. Plenty of entertainment to be had throughout, if you like westerns, and both Jeff Cooper and Jack Elam are great to watch on screen. Simple little movie that may not have had any fans jump from one genre over to the other, but still reads as a fun and unique picture.
Josh Stephenson was born in Florida, schooled in Chicago, and lives in New Orleans. His mother went into labor while his father and brother were attending a theatrical double feature of EXCALIBUR and BLOOD BEACH. A youth spent in the VHS rental heyday led to a lifelong addiction to movies. He holds a BS in Television Journalism from the University of Florida and a BA in Film Editing from Columbia College Chicago. He continues to work in the Louisiana film industry despite a government-issued tax cap.