Tenebre (1982) Starring Anthony Franciosa, John Saxon, Christian Borromeo, Giuliano Gemma, Veronica Lario, Mirella D’Angelo, Ania Pieroni, Eva Robins, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, Daria Nicolodi, Isabella Amadeo, Mirella Banti, Ennio Girolami.
Aka Unsane, AKA Tenebrae.
Directed by Dario Argento.
Running time: 110 minutes.
Ivy league New Englander Peter Neal (Franciosa) is a world renowned writer of horror/mysteries on tour in Rome to promote his latest novel TENEBRE. Grisly murders that seem to emulate themes in his latest book begin happening to strangers, then aquaintances, then the people closest to him.
Brutal! Thoroughly gross misogynistic slasher film. No wonder Dario Argento ended up with such a weirdo for a daughter (Asia Argento). Blood splatters like paint on a canvass. Thoroughly unpleasant and difficult to watch unless this type of thing happens to be your bag.
Gotta wonder sometimes if David Cronenberg ever worked in Italy under the name Dario Argento. Argento is just a touch better than Cronenberg but both make similarly gross movies. I am generally loathe to admit when a Canadians work is less spectacular than a foreigner’s but in this case that isnt saying much. Argento at least gives a kind of nightmare feel to his work. Cronenberg is just bland preferring a conventional narrative structure with gore and kinky sex coldly tossed in.
This one is beautifully photographed and uses music more effectively than Cronenberg ever has. There is also a tone of mischief in this tour de force that is unmistakable.
Some would say you can effectively horrify an audience with implied violence. Argento does not agree. One scene has a lesbian/feminist book critic (could easily have been a film critic so I guess I should watch my step) getting particularly badly slashed.
Veronica Lario, wife of Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi has a small part in this as a shoplifter who becomes the first murder victim. She only did a few movies and is only given a few minutes onscreen here but then none of the beautiful women in this one last long.
The always solid John Steiner, a British actor who made a long career in Italian film, has a brief turn here as an eccentric book critic.