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Tenebre DVD Review – 1982

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Language: Italian/English Dubbed
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Directed by Dario Argento
Cast: Anthony Franciosa, Daria Nicolodi, John Saxon

Synopsis
Peter Neal, an American novel writer arrives in Rome for a press tour with his assistant and his agent. As he arrives at his hotel, the local Police inform him that someone is killing people in similar ways to how he kills off the characters in his book. As the death toll keeps rising, Peter Neal must help the police stop this vicious killer from killing more people.

DVD Release
I’ve never been disappointed with an Anchor Bay release, so my expectations are usually pretty high for their titles. And I’m safe to say this release is no different. This review is for the 2008 Remastered version. Anchor Bay has released Tenebre a few times, once in 1999, once in the Dario Argento Collection steelbook and in the Dario Argento Collection, Vol 3. It seems to be the same print in all the releases ( the one missing 15 seconds of the killer walking about the piazza due to print damage). The 2008 version is Anamorphic and in 1.85:1.

Extras

  • Audio Commentary with Dario Argento, Claudio Simonetti and Journalist Loris Curci
  • Voices of the Unsane
  • The Roving Camera Eye of Dario Argento
  • Creating the Sounds of Terror
  • Alternate End Credit Music
  • Trailer
  • Dario Argento Bio

The Voices of the Unsane feature is probably the best extra on the disc. Various interviews by Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi, the director of photography Luciano Tovoli, Claudio Simonetti and a few others.

The Roving Camera Eye of Dario Argento is a short feature where he talks about using a Camera to tell a story. Where each story requires a particular shot. It’s interesting that the narrator keeps referring to the film as Unsane, which is the Edited version. The feature ends by showing the extensive crane shot used during the lesbian scene. Overall its a pretty good feature.

Creating the sounds of terror is a short feature about creating some sound effects for Tenebre. Different sound effects for squeaking shoes, axe cutting and blade stabbing. It was okay, just a little short.

The alternate end credit music was apparently put into the English version of the film without Dario Argento or Claudio Simonetti knowing. The song is Kim Wilde’s “Take Me Tonight”. It definitely doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie, so I’m not sure why this was ever put into it in the first place.

The trailer is pretty good, great video and audio presentation.

The Dario Argento Bio is the typical biography for the Director. It’s pretty informative and it goes up to Mother of Tears. I would of much preferred maybe a video biography, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Thoughts
Tenebre marks Dario Argento’s return to the giallo genre after making Suspiria and Inferno. Apparently a lot of his Italian fans weren’t happy when he left the crime drama genre for the fantasy/supernatural genre of Suspiria and Inferno. I hold Suspiria in high regard, and I don’t think I’ve seen a Dario Argento movie that comes close to it. Tenebre has probably one of the more coherent plots out of Argento’s movies.

In the Voices of the Unsane feature, Argento talks about having all the cast dressed in white as opposed to the killer who is dressed all in black. Combine this with the very white colored locations, it made the film very cold. Vastly colored and lit differently then Suspiria and Inferno, I know this is a matter of choice but I prefer Tovolis’ colorful cinematography more than the sterile look and feel of Tenebre. The crane shot during the lesbian scene was marvelous though, with beautifully calculated movements and smoothness.

Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) was an interesting character overall. He was trying to use the murders of the real killer to conceal the killings of his ex-wife and agent who were having an affair We are made to assume that in the flashbacks of the red heel scene, that it is Peter Neal’s character that is being abused and who would later go on to murder the girl. One of the cops confirms that Peter Neal might of been linked to a childhood murder case, so perhaps the Tenebre murders re-sparked Peter Neal’s blood lust. We have him killing the real killer (Bertie) and taking over, the role of the Tenebre Killer.

Daria Nicolodi hated the role as protagonist in the movie. She says the role was too stiff for her, but she did it anyways. She’s a pretty forgettable character as a whole. Her best scene being the final scream which runs through the credits.

The arm chopping scene was awesome in all its blood squirting glory. As the arm is pulled back it sprays a fan shaped blood spray on the white wall. The redness of the blood works really well with the over-whiteness of the scene.

John Saxon as the agent who is having an affair with Peter Neal’s ex-wife. I never realized how many movies this guy pops up in.

Conclusions
Tenebre is a pretty stylish and beautifully shot Giallo flick with a pretty good story. You can definitely tell that Dario Argento is the master of this genre. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ve probably already seen Tenebre (shame if you haven’t). If you’re new to the genre, you might as well start with one of the best. The DVD by Anchor Bay is fully recommended.

Rating

5 out of 5