Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) Review

Four Flies on Grey VelvetThe last part of what is unofficial known as Argento’s Animal Trilogy, Four Flies on Grey Velvet follows The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Cat O’ Nine Tails as another early Giallo which mixes mystery, murder and mayhem into the exciting blend Dario Argento became known for.

A drummer in a rock band Roberto Tobias (Michael Brandon) enjoys the carefree high life living in an expensive apartment with his loving wife and partying with his trendy friends day and night.

One fateful night all that changes when Roberto follows a mysterious man to an abandoned theatre where the two fight resulting in him accidentally killing the stranger. Traumatised Roberto turns to see a masked witness photographing the whole fight and then fleeing before he can catch him.

Four Flies on Grey Velvet

Wracked with guilt and worried what the masked figure saw Roberto’s life is about to take a turn for the worse when he receives the dead man’s ID in the post. It seems an unknown psychopath has begun a campaign of blackmail against Roberto but the motive is not money, there is only one purpose and that is to wreck his life and drive him insane.Four Flies on Grey Velvet

From the disturbing dream like opening to the jigsaw like story which Roberto pieces together slowly and all the absorbing twists and turns along the way this is a pure piece of Argento well written, excellently directed and brilliantly shot.

The combination of crime and horror all ways works well with Argento injecting in some excellent set pieces such as the mazelike park killing, the spectacular slow-mo car crash and the surreal reoccurring dream sequence where Roberto imagines being beheaded.

Sadly other parts do not work so well including the clichéd gay detective and the ridiculous pseudoscience police experiment that ultimately unlocks the killers identity yet feels more like a lazy last minute plot point rather than an integral element.

That’s said Four Flies on Grey Velvet is well worth watching and for Argento fans Shameless Screen Entertainment’s excellent DVD and Blu-Ray release will fill them with glee. The 40th Anniversary Edition comes fully re-mastered in HD from the original negative with cleaned up audio on the Ennio Morricone soundtrack and plenty of extras to enjoy.

Four Flies on Grey Velvet

The famous ‘missing forty seconds’ which here have been added back in sadly don’t do much for the film and only a fanatical fan would notice them if it was not for there low quality which jars against the perfect picture during the rest of the film.

Four Flies on Grey Velvet

A tale of psychological torture and intrigue Four Flies on Grey Velvet may not be Argento at his best however it is an interesting accompaniment to his other early works and further proof of the prolific auteur’s accomplishments in the Giallo genre.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ½ ☆ ☆ 

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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