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Horror movie directed by Dario Argento

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The horror! The perversion!

  • May 17, 2011
** out of ****

There's always a speculation that an author gets their ideas from somewhere; from someone, and from something. Horror novelists, such as Stephen King, for example, know their genre because there were instances in their life where they had lived it. Maybe that's what's going on here. "Tenebre" is Dario Argento's most personal movie; which could either lead it down the road of inaccessibility or masterful craft. I pick the first thing.

I like what the movie is doing. I absorbed what the story was trying to do, and what its messages were. Still, there's nothing much more to "Tenebre" than a good style, a couple typically entertaining kill scenes, and an always good score from Claudio Simonetti and the gang. There are better Argento films out there, and while this is by no means his worst movie, "Tenebre" fails to be a solid example of why Argento strikes me as influential.

Oh, what a great movie this could have made. Focusing mainly on murders committed by an obsessive fan of some novelist (whose newest work is called "Tenebre"), the film is one that could have done so much. It mostly involves the novelist (Anthony Franciosa), his assistant (Daria Nicolodi), and his agent (John Saxon) as they attempt to solve these murders, which all somehow link to the works of the writer.

The story switches on-and-off from actually making sense to not making much sense at all. This is not a flaw of most Dario Argento films (in fact, most of his movies are pretty darn nonsensical), but it just doesn't work out too well here. "Tenebre" is decently directed up until you happen upon the evaluation of the story, which is flawed due to its personal themes and lack of focus. I like what it's trying to do, but with a story so uneven and a twist ending so lame, you can't really end up with a particularly good movie.

But if you're going to watch it, then allow me to give you some tips. At the time, it was pretty violent, and now; not so much. This means that now, you can watch "Tenebre" in all its violent, un-cut glory; and this is what I did. This is the cut that people warmed up to, and for some reason, I still couldn't find enough to admire or enjoy. It's only ten minutes of footage compared to the "cut" version, but that would probably make the difference for many.

It's an appropriately stylized film; a giallo horror movie, no doubt. The kill scenes are well-directed, I'll give them that, but they feel shallow without brilliance and genuine wit. The film is about the perversion of both novelists (of horror) and serial killers; but fails to shed complex light on either. Some might enjoy what Argento has provided us with, but I have expectations for every movie, and "Tenebre" did not meet mine.

The gory and gruesome "Tenebre" has ambitions and dreams to be a good horror movie. To some people, that is exactly what it is. But I compare, compare, and for the third time, I compare. This might be the problem; myself. I could have liked "Tenebre", which ends up being an only mildly engaging/entertaining horror yarn, but there's not enough flare and beauty to keep it from stumbling perhaps a bit more than it needs to. But if it sounds like your kind of thing, then go for it. Blood and gore, nudity, and admittedly cool kill scenes. Maybe that's your idea of a good time. Most of the time, it would be MY idea of a good time; but "Tenebre" has only half the soul that such a movie as this requires.

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review by . May 19, 2009
Tenebre is a cold, dark and sterile film from Dario Argento. In sterile I mean the clinical and septic surroundings that the city dwellers live in. Some of the sets are painted bright white and lighted in cool hues. The film is about a murder mystery writer named Peter Neal who comes to Rome on a business trip/vacation. During this trip, some murders are committed by a strange demented killer who's a big fan of Peter Neal. The film's translated title Shadow describes the film perfectly. To say how …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
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It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Following the worldwide success of SUSPIRIA and INFERNO, Master Of Horror Dario Argento returned to the giallo genre with the shocker that remains one of the director's greatest. Anthony Franciosa stars as an American mystery novelist on a promotional tour in Rome who finds that his most recent book has inspired a copycat serial killer. When the psychotic impulse becomes irresistible, does freedom await in the simple act of annihilation? John Saxon (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), Daria Nicolodi (DEEP RED) and John Steiner (CALIGULA) co-star along with a nerve-shredding score by Goblin and a mind-blowing twist ending in this classic of sexual corruption, savage bloodshed and virtuoso filmmaking that fans and critics hail as an Argento masterpiece.

Was released on video in the late 80's under the title Unsane.  This version is heavily edited.  Theresa Russell dubs Daria Nicolodi's voice on the Englidh track.
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Director: Dario Argento
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 1982
MPAA Rating: Unrated, R
Screen Writer: Dario Argento
DVD Release Date: May 27, 2008
Runtime: 101 minutes, (original), 91 minutes (US version)
Studio: Titanus
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