Tenebrae
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Anthony Franciosa, Giuliano Gemma, Christian Borromeo
Review by Brian M. Sammons

Arrow Video from the UK continues their triumphant march through Dario Argento land with the first High-Def transfer of Argento’s big return to giallo films after indulging in his supernatural spook stories, the masterful Suspiria and the much maligned Inferno. In fact when this movie first came out, there were some who were upset that this movie wasn’t the conclusion to Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy, because with a name like Tenebrae, it could have been about anything. But no, it’s a return to black gloved killers and far too convoluted, sometimes downright confusing, plots.

But does this movie, released in America under the gloriously goofy title of Unsane, deliver the goods as well as Argento’s earlier giallo films? Well let’s find out.

Famous murder mystery author, Peter Neal, goes to Rome to promote his latest macabre masterpiece, the book called Tenebrae. Unfortunately someone is using a straight razor to slash up pretty ladies in the same manner as people are killed in Peter’s book and then, just to make sure the author is getting the point, he sends taunting letters to the writer. Against his better judgment, Peter gets further and further pulled into the whodunit as people close to him start getting slashed. And really, without giving the good, and somewhat weird, twisty bits away, that’s all I can say about this movie.

Well, directly.

I can say that the right amount of red stuff for a giallo is present here, even if some of the kills in Tenebrae are a bit pedestrian compared to the usual crazy carnage you would expect from Argento. There is also the trademarked Argento WTF moment with the most athletic and angry doggy in history that comes completely out of nowhere and just so happens to chase a character to a very unfortunate location. Sure it’s completely nonsensical, but it’s awesome nevertheless.

Oh and do I have to mention the look of an Argento film? I mean I do with every review of one of his films, so by now you should know that Dario is a master filmmaker, and while not all of his movies are golden, they usually look damn good. So if you want to see how good movies should be made, forget that hyper-kinetic, vomit inducing, shaky-cam crap comprised out of scenes no longer than 3.5 seconds in length for the A.D.D. generation, and get this example of a maestro in action.

As usual, it’s the extras, both on and off the disc, that make this release shine. Really, what Arrow Video considers normal for a Blu-ray release, most other disc producers would label super-duper-deluxe editions and charge you a whole heap extra for it. Anyway, you get the now expected double-sided art for the disc case, which gives you four options on how you want to display this movie. There’s the double-sided wall poster, and a seven page collector’s booklet. As far as goodies on the disc, there are two audio commentaries. One track is from Argento expert Thomas Rostock, the other is a tag-team by another Argentophile, Alan Jones and author Kim Newman that I found very informative and surprisingly funny. There’s an introduction to the movie by actress Daria Nicolodi, and she also provides a longer interview. Dario Argento himself speaks about this film in a short interview. A featurette about composer Claudio Simonetti, some concert footage from Argento music makers, the legendary band Goblin, and the original trailer round off the extras nicely.

Tenebrae is considered by some to be Argento’s last great movie. Whether you agree with that or not, what is undeniable is that this is Argento firing on all cylinders on this one and delivering the giallo goods with both hands, clad in black gloves, and smeared with a bit too red blood. For Argento fans, giallo murder mystery buffs, completionists of the great horror directors, and lovers of beautifully filmed movies of all types, this is a must have for you. If you fall into one or more of those categories, and you really should, then be sure to get this High-Def horror disc that is thankfully region free. You won’t be sorry.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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