Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D'Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Eva Robins, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Giuliano Gemma, Isabella Amadeo, Mirella Banti, Ennio Girolami, Marino Mase, Fulvio Mingozzi, Gianpaolo Saccarola, Ippolita Santarelli
Written by: Dario Argento
Directed by: Dario Argento
MPAA Rating: Unraated
Running Time: 101
Date: 10/28/1982

Tenebre (1982)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Book of Blood

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Dario Argento made this murder story instead of finishing his proposed "mother" trilogy, the first two entries of which hadn't performed as well as he'd hoped. Yet, despite a few clunky plot twists, Tenebre turned into a very satisfying, very bloody achievement, perhaps one of Argento's best. Anthony Franciosa stars as Peter Neal, an American writer who arrives in Rome for a press tour. Violent killings begin occurring with the killer quoting lines from Neal's latest book ("Tenebrae") and sending messages to Neal's room. The police continue to question Neal, until he decides to try and unmask the killer himself. Assistants, reporters and fans continually surround the somewhat helpless Neal, but Maria (Lara Wendel), the teen daughter of the hotel manager, is the most interesting. She flirts a bit with the older writer, and also with his young assistant Gianni (Christian Borromeo), and she is the victim of the film's nastiest and most random piece horror. A mad Doberman leaps its fence and begins chasing her through the streets; she winds up in the killer's lair merely by chance. Argento also throws in several nameless victims, such as a sexy shoplifter who makes her way home (after being caught trying to steal Neal's book). A creepy homeless man tries to assault her and keeps popping up before the real killer strikes. Reporters ask questions about Neal's book and the nature of its violence, as if his book had something to do with real life. These asides from the plot seem to be Argento's real point; in a way, it could be his most personal film. John Saxon (a giallo veteran who had worked with Mario Bava) co-stars as Neal's ridiculous agent who loves fiddling with his new hat. The film has also been released under the alternate spelling "Tenebrae" as well as Unsane.

DVD Details: Anchor Bay has re-released Tenebre both on its own and as part of a new box set, also containing Phenomena (1985), Trauma (1993), The Card Player (2004) and Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005). Extras are the same as on the old Anchor Bay release: a commentary track, featurettes, trailer, bio, etc.

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