review for Blazing Magnum on AllMovie

Blazing Magnum (1976)
by Donald Guarisco review

Despite the horror movie-styled title, Strange Shadows in an Empty Room foregoes supernatural shocks in favor of action and whodunit plot twists dealt out in a sub-Dirty Harry vein. The end result has plenty of slick visuals and action but makes little sense: The script is a chaotic jumble of half-baked mystery and Peyton Place-style "shock" revelations and punctuated with frequent punch-ups, car chases, and shootouts. It's never convincing or believable for a second and is further hurt by a lack of sympathetic characters: Tony Saitta is little more than an animal with a badge, frequently botching his investigation due to his overzealous penchant for sadism, and the many suspects are so one-dimensionally amoral and jaded that it is impossible to connect with any of them. Despite these key problems, fans of trashy B-movies might want to check out Strange Shadows in an Empty Room for a few reasons. The first is its cast: Stuart Whitman is amusingly blustery as the tough guy hero, Martin Landau handles the role of his chief suspect with greater dignity than the role deserves, and John Saxon and Gayle Hunnicutt add solid support in minor roles. The other reason is that director Martin Herbert (an anglicized pseudonym for Alberto De Martino) never hesitates to go for the gusto when it comes to action: an extremely well-choreographed car chase adds a few sparks to the film's mid-section and there is also an exceptionally bizarre scene where Whitman engages in fisticuffs with a trio of transvestite kung-fu experts. Despite these flashes of wild style, the film is poorly paced and too uninvolving to be termed a success. As a result, Strange Shadows in an Empty Room can only be recommended to hardcore Eurotrash buffs.