Dario Argento, the master of the Giallo genre delivers yet again with Tenebrae, released in a special edition on Blu-Ray and DVD from Arrow. A visual feast for the eyes with a killer storyline full of twists and turns, Argento gives the audience blood, gore, thrills and more in a movie banned in the U.K until 1999.
On a publicity trip in Rome to promote his latest thriller entitled Tenebrae the famous American mystery novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) suddenly discovers police detectives in his rented apartment who tell him that there has been a gruesome slaying committed by a razor-wielding maniac. The killer has stuffed pages of Neal’s latest novel into the mouth of his victim before slashing her throat.
Shocked and disturbed Neal tries to carry on with the book tour, but as the murders continue and the police fail to find the psycho responsible, those around him are targeted and Neal’s work of murderous fiction starts transforming into a true life killing spree.
Using a crime writer as the central character with an obsessive maniac paying homage to his work in horrific fashion creates a brilliant storyline which Argento also wrote as well as directed. The twisted tale keeps the audience on edge and guessing all the way until the end where Argento delivers an amazing climax as spectacular and shocking as it is satisfying and blood soaked.
Delving deep into the psychology of a psychopath in the same way as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Tenebrae which translates from the Latin as ‘shadows’ or ‘darkness’, is as concerned with creating a deeply disturbing feeling of unease in the viewer as it is with scares and jumps – something which elevates it above many other thrillers and horrors of the same period and even today.
The film is packed with Freudian imagery and influences adding a greater depth to the back story of the maniac and their warped world view.
The script and cast are excellent, especially Anthony Franciosa as the central character and John Saxon (From Dusk Till Dawn, Cannibal Apocalypse, Black Christmas, Enter The Dragon) as his sleazy agent.
Wonderfully shot throughout and full of excellent and artistic set piece murders, the surreal and scary flashbacks are all accompanied by a terrific score from long time Argento collaborators Goblin, credited here as Simonetti-Morante-Pignatelli. Tenebrae is a master class in Giallo mixing violent murders and a solid story with an inventiveness and artistic flair.
As ever Arrow gives the movie the release it deserves with a brand new HD restoration of the film with audio commentary from Argento experts, journalists and writers Kim Newman, Alan Jones and Thomas Rostock. There are also several other special features including interviews with Argento and footage of Goblin playing live from the Glasgow Arches as well as Arrow’s usual specially commissioned original art work and a collectors booklet.
Tenebrae is Argento at his best which means a gripping thriller with an inventive plot, creative killings and plenty of blood and guts all executed with excellent cinematography and sensational style.