Written by: Nirrad
Giallo films are starting to become one of my favorite genres. I haven't seen that many giallo films, but what I have seen I really enjoyed. So of course "Tenebre" is no exception. This was one of the titles that were included in the Argento box set that I received recently, and was one of the movies I really wanted to see along with "Phenonena."
"Tenebre" is similar to a Hitchcock film, only slightly more complex, and a hell of a lot more gore. Anthony Franciosa (Peter Neal) has just completed his most recent novel entitled "Tenebrae" and has plans to travel to Rome for business purposes. As he arrives in Italy, he discovers that his belongings have been tampered with and damaged. Meanwhile there is a serial killer on the loose who seems to be a big fan of the book "Tenebrae". The killer has been killing victims in the same matter as that of the book. By using a straight edge razor and stuffing pages from the novel inside of the victims' mouth. While Anthony is staying in his hotel room, he is questioned by Detective Berti (John Steiner) who eventually realized that the novel and the murders are in common. During their meeting, they are interrupted by a mysterious phone call. They immediately know that it is the killer, and find out that the killer is using a pay phone just across the road. Det. Berti storms out the door to catch the culprit, but he was too late. As time passes, more and more murders occur, and some of Anthony's friends start to become the victims. Anthony starts to get letters from the killer, but they usually contained a brief sentence from the novel. Eventually he receives a letter that is a direct threat to him. He decides to do his own detective work with a friend. They thought they knew who the killer was, but it all comes to a screeching halt in a great plot twist.
This is yet another great movie by Argento. With all of its plot twists, it will keep you guessing until the end. The acting in "Tenebre" is one of the best that I've seen in Argento's films. Some of the actors do a poor job, but I'm guessing that's mainly due to the fact that a lot of them are Italian, and some of the voices are dubbed. But everyone else is superb. John Saxon has a minor role in the movie, and I find that man brilliant. I just enjoy his voice and his Jack Nicholson looks.
As like any Argento film, we are treated to lots of gore. The first few deaths are nice, but not really bloody, but that all changes in the movie's climax. The ending is just filled with excess amounts of blood, and it is so awesome. The effects used during the deaths were fantastic. Usually I can tell when a dummy was used, or if a fake prop was used. But this film surprised me, especially considering the time it was made in, and the budget it had.
Argento knows a good looking woman when he sees one. Most of the women in "Tenebre" are easy on the eyes and downright gorgeous in some areas. So that again is another plus for me, just throwing that out there.
The movie is nearly flawless, but once again, I have to complain about the music. I don't know what it is about Argento, but he likes to use weird music that sometimes feels completely out of place. When I was watching the trailer, I was nearly turned off because of the music. The main theme starts out with a weird "Wah" sound, and then turns into an upbeat rock tempo. But unfortunately, it still has that weird cheesy sound to it. I know a lot of 80' movies had terrible synthesizer music, but this takes the cake. Although it may eventually grow on me, because I hated the music from "Suspiria", but now I really enjoy it.
One last little problem I have with "Tenebre" is the overall picture quality. If I didn't know beforehand that this was made in 1982, I would have thought it was made in the late 1960's. Just the overall quality of it screams 60's. It really does have that cheap feel to it, but again I'm not really complaining. It's just a small problem that I already easily overlooked. Plus, it can also enhance the movie because of its grainy look.
When Argento makes films like this, I like to describe them as "a tacky, gory Hitchcock movie". But I don't mean that in a bad way at all. Tacky is always good in my book. I personally can't wait to watch the rest of the movies in the collection. Then move on to his earlier work. "Tenebre" is considered by many people one of his best, or the best movie he ever made. I agree with the latter. This is my favorite movie that he has released. Its overall look is nowhere near as good as Suspiria but the overall movie is better. If you don't like this movie, then there is something severely wrong with you.