Tenebrae (1982)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 14, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 96 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Dario Argento
Starring: Anthony Franciosa, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, John Steiner
Screenplay: Dario Argento
Country: Italy
AKA: Tenebre; Unsane; Sotto gli occhi dell'assassino

In 1929, Italian publishing company Mondadori started publishing a series of crime books that had garish yellow covers. It is from here that the Italian thriller/ horror film gets its name: giallo, the Italian word for yellow. The films from the early sixties started as adaptation of these early thrillers, but eventually became a genre of their own. The main characteristics of the giallo film take elements from detective stories and slasher films, with operatic elements and a large dose of blood, gore, violence and nudity. While many films from Italian directors can come under the 'giallo' title, the masters are truly Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Dario Argento, son of producer Salvatore Argento, began his career as a writer for a film journal, before heading into screen writing. He worked for Sergio Leone on such films as Once Upon Time in the West before heading into his own movies, thrillers that kept in mind his childhood love of Italian folk lore, the tales of the Brothers Grimm, but most of all, the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. Argento is responsible for some of the greatest horror films ever: Deep Red, Suspiria, and this one - Tenebrae.

Author Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) has come to Rome to promote his latest novel, titled Tenebrae. His arrival is marred, however, by a series of killings that copy those in his novel. The police are frustrated by the murderer and so Neal, along with his agent, Bullmer (John Saxon) and his employees begin their own investigation to uncover the identity of the killer…

Tenebrae is the film that saw Argento return to traditional giallo after his sojourn into the supernatural with his previous two films Suspiria and Inferno, two chapters of his so called (and as of early 2006 unfinished) 'Three Mothers' trilogy and then right back into it with his next film Phenomena. With its rich exterior shots of some exquisite Italian locations, and an unusually bright palette for a horror film…a lot of the murders take place in broad daylight, Tenebrae is a pleasure to watch. Some really great performances by the actors, and some great bloody effects, particularly a brilliant axe murder.
Video
As expected, the picture is has several artefacts, but they never intrude too much on the picture, and are only present a few times within the film. Also once or twice (or maybe more) the chroma noise present in some of the colors affects the look of the film, making it slightly grainy. Other than these small issues, which are probably due to the age of the film, this 16:9 anamorphic widescreen transfer is still vivid, and enjoyable to watch. It is really hard NOT to enjoy this film, no matter what the quality.
Audio
The audio is a fairly unspectacular Dolby 2.0 soundtrack, but for its age, suits the film. Obviously this being a dubbed film with some actors speaking Italian and others English, some of the dialogue doesn't match the picture.
Extra Features
The Audio Commentary is by Director Dario Argento, Composer Claudio Simonetti and Journalist Loris Curci. This is an interesting commentary, although, due to a few Italian accents, sometimes a slight chore to listen to.

Dario Argento Interview (36 minute 48 second) is a made for cable interview with Dario Argento and Dario Niccolodi which was filmed around the time of Tenebrae's release. Dario's English is hard to navigate but all in all it is a fairly interesting feature. I must warn you though, the interviewer is in height of eighties fashion…scary stuff!!

An Eye For Horror (56 minutes 49 seconds) is the constant Umbrella Argento release documentary that has made it onto every Argento film. It is not a bad doco, but probably not needed on EVERY Umbrella Argento release. It features interviews with many of horror associates (such as John Carpenter, George Romero and daughter Asia Argento) and features scenes from many of his films.

Behind the scenes featurettes consists of two mini features. The first is called Camera Equipment (4 minutes 27 seconds) and has Argento covering the aspects of his camera work. The second feature, Sound FX (2 minutes 6 seconds) shows how some of the sound effects are achieved in Argento's films.

Original ending credits/ score (2 minutes 16 seconds) has the Kim Wilde pop song that was used on the ending of the English version of Tenebrae, much to Argento and Simonetti's displeasure.

The Theatrical Trailer (3 minutes 15 seconds) is obviously the trailer for Tenebrae, which is also featured in the Other Argento Trailers section of the extras. There are also trailers for some of Argento's other films, such as The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, The Cat of Nine Tails, Phenomena, Deep Red and Tenebrae.
The Verdict
Tenebrae is a great giallo, actually a great film of any genre, and an essential part of any horror collector's collection, and this Umbrella release has some great features.
Movie Score
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