Viewed – 14 April 2015 Blu-ray
When writer Peter Neal arrives in Rome on a routine promotion trip for his latest novel, he becomes the target of a deranged killer who starts murdering beautiful women in the name of his book Tenebrae. Soon the lines between reality and fiction blur as Neal and the local detectives set out to catch the culprit and prevent more bloodshed.
Now going into a film by acclaimed, controversial Italian director Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria), I will give a word of warning. He’s not one for casting great actors in his movies and is much more focused on the technical aspects and the twisting narrative. This 1982 entry is no exception as actor Anthony Franciosa and much of his supporting cast, including John Saxon and Argento’s then-wife Dario Nicolodi are amateurish at best, delivering lines in a particularly wooden and unconvincing manor. Thankfully then, Argento distracts us with a series of gloriously staged murder set-pieces, arguably some of the best in his career (the stalk and slash of the lesbians especially) and aided by a hypnotic, creepy score by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin, this remains very much an Argento movie. The look may be simplistic and the acting poor, but for style and a keep-you-guessing plot that throws in a few surprises, including an unforgettable ending … fans of early eighties slasher movies and of the Italian maestro’s work should definitely check this out.
The Blu-ray is packed with extras in this Arrow Video re-release, boasting two commentaries, several interviews and featurettes, a reversible sleeve with newly commissioned art and an in-depth booklet. Add to this a decent treatment for the film itself. The picture whilst nicely detailed, is a tad over-saturated (although the garish reds suit the tone of the story) and the sound although only in 2.0 Stereo, is uncompressed so the score sounds particularly good. Overall, a decent effort for one of Argento’s most notorious movies.
(the movie) 3.5 /5
(the Blu-ray) 4 /5