= Highest Rating
the disappointing follow-up to his supernatural smash Suspiria,
Dario Argento returned to the giallo murder/mystery formula
with which he'd scored his initial success. The result was Tenebre
for "darkness"), one of the Italian director's best
Popular American thriller writer Peter Neal
(Franciosa) arrives in Rome for a book tour only to learn that
a psychopath has taken his latest novel, Tenebre, a bit
too close to heart. A young woman (sexy Ania Pieroni), her mouth
stuffed with pages torn from the book, has been killed with
a straight razor — the exact modus operendi of Neal's fictional
villain. While Neal is being questioned by homicide detectives
about possible connections to his work, he receives a chilling
phone call from the killer promising more savagery to come.
Inexorably, as the maniac strikes again, the mystery novelist
is compelled to conduct his own private investigation into the
razor killer's identity. It isn't long before Neal — whom the
murderer ominously refers to as "the great corrupter"
— is himself targeted for death.
Featuring masterful set-pieces and a pulsing,
synthesizer-based score by Goblin, Tenebre
delivers everything the discerning fan could expect from a
a type of violent, bloody mystery/suspense thriller with an
emphasis on bizarre psychological aberrations. The sadistic,
black-gloved killer, the befuddled police, the gorgeous female
victims, the wild, unexpected twists in the plot; all the chief
elements are here. Not all paths traveled by Argento with
this film are the conventional ones, however. His use of bright
lighting and sunlit spaces — as opposed to dark recesses selectively
lit with candy-color greens, reds, and blues — is a noteworthy
also has a very high body count: 11 total, including
one of the goriest axe murders ever. Thwack!
shocked me with its stunning murder sequences and surprised
me with its bizarre but plausible plot twists; Goblin's score
rocked me when it wasn't raising goose pimples... Anyone who
digs suspense thrillers (and doesn't mind more than a bit of
blood) should seek out this, the last truly great giallo.
Bay does a fine job with the
bringing this nerve-jangling shocker to American shores for the
first time in uncut form. (A heavily edited version of the film
was briefly released in the U.S. as Unsane in 1983.) Picture
quality is very good, although the transfer is not anamorphic.
Though the English Dolby 5.1 track contains a distracting amount
of hiss, a hiss-less — though certainly less dynamic — 2.0 track
is provided. (There's also a Dolby mono track in Italian, but
sadly there are no English subtitles.)
Dario Argento and Goblin keyboardist Claudio
Simonetti appear on a commentary track interviewed by a journalist
Loris Corci, but the main participants are not the most comfortable
with English. Argento fans will certainly appreciate this Q and
A session but others may likely be turned off by the thick and
occasionally difficult to understand accents.
The disc reviewed here went OOP in 2004. In
May 2008 Anchor Bay is releasing a remastered
anamorphic edition containing a new mix of extras. This new
edition will also be issued as part of the 6-disc Dario
Argento Box Set.