A private detective travels out west to investigate the murders of several prostitutes, facing off against the reluctance of the town's grizzled sheriff, and several suspicious characters, each with something to hide.
A black soldier returns from fighting for the Union in the Civil War only to find out that his mother has been murdered by a gang of white thugs. He becomes a bounty hunter, determined to track down and kill the men who killed his mother.
Larry G. Spangler
A mutilating knife wielding killer haunts the small Southwest desert town of Mescal. Though most victims have been prostitutes, the first was Travis Mescal, the only son of the town's first family. When the Sheriff proves unable to solve the case, the town leaders invite Investigator Burns to unravel the mystery. Along the way, he confronts tension with the Sheriff, trouble with some citizens, and finally a killer whose motive we've heard before in Ripper-lore.
The Good detective, the Bad killer and the Ugly Sheriff
Now here's something you don't encounter every day... "A Knife for the Ladies" is a genre hybrid between western and horror. No wait, let me specify that even more, it's a western mixed with strong and typical giallo trademarks! Of course, you can't really be sure if this was intentional. Was director Larry G. Sprangler even aware that overseas, in contemporary Italy, the giallo existed or was it just a lucky but coincidental choice to provide this film's killer with black leather gloves and make him/her hunt down lurid women with a sharp knife? It also doesn't matter that much, as the combo works quite effectively! "A Knife for the Ladies" is a heavily flawed film, mostly suffering from a pacing that is far too slow and a very poor use of western decors and set-pieces, but the plot is still an engaging whodunit and the murders are reasonably grisly. The town of Mescal is plagued by vicious murders and, so far, the bodies of three women have been discovered with their throats slit. The town council decides to hire private detective Burns to find the culprit, since Sheriff Jarrod is too incompetent to solve anything except for wrongly parked horses. Burns runs into a few suspects, including a morbid undertaker and the nasty saloon-owner who secretly aspires to become sheriff, but meanwhile the murders continue. "A Knife for the Ladies" is a recommendable effort, especially if you're into obscure and experimental 70s horror, but you'll have to accept the snail-pace, the lack of directorial style and the poorly created western setting. On the bright side, crazy-eyed Jack Elam is always a pleasure to watch and the denouement is vile and twisted in good old-fashioned Giallo tradition (albeit somewhat predictable if you look at the poster images)
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