TENEBRE (1982)
posted 00/00/2008

Directed by:
Dario Argento

Anthony Franciosa ... Peter Neal
Christian Borromeo ... Gianni
Mirella D'Angelo ... Tilde
Veronica Lario ... Jane McKerrow

Country: Italy
Runtime: 110 min
AKA: Tenebrae

I just purchased the Anchor Bay Dario Argento film 5 pack and popped Tenebre into the DVD player. This film was Argento’s return to giallo, the genre that made him famous, after delving successfully into supernatural horror with Suspiria and Inferno. Giallo is a form of Italian murder mystery with a little bit more blood and sex. Many say that this was his most plot-driven film but I am still unsure of this.

Peter Neal (Franciosa) is a popular American mystery novelist. A lot of his work is violent and controversial. He has arrived in Rome with his female assistant, Anne (who has a crush on him) and his literary agent Bullmer. They are here to promote Neal’s latest book Tenebrae (the spelling of the book is different from the film’s title. Not sure why). Neal has no time to rest for as soon as he gets there the killings start. All of the killings seem to be related to Neal’s book. In one occasion pages from the novel were stuffed into a victim’s mouth. And of course Neal begins to receive anonymous letters from a supposed obsessed fan turned killer.

Spoiler below

There are a lot more killings, accompanied with anonymous letters to Neal. We find out that through all this Bullmer is having an affair with Peter Neal’s ex-wife. They soon both get killed. Bullmer gets stabbed in a public place and the ex wife gets her arm chopped off in one of the most splatterific scenes I have ever seen. She holds her freaking stump as blood squirts allover the walls. My favorite scene has to be the lengthy chase scene between one young girl and a vicious rottweiler. The crazy dog chases her through a park, jumping over several fences and biting her a lot. She seeks refuge in none other than the killer’s house and gets killed too. There are two scenes where we are shown repressed images of Neal’s childhood which are now taking over. There was a girl who had sexually humiliated him and he killed her. Well, there you go Neal is the true killer!

If I understand the story correctly, which often I don’t, Berti, a television interviewer was messed up and was obsessed with Neal’s work. Neal sent him to kill until Neal killed him himself and took hold of the madness. At the end Neil has just killed his ex wife when detective Giermani and Anne close in on him at the house. Seeing no way out he slits his throat with a straight razor and appears dead. In fact he is not and kills the detective. When Anne returns from getting something from the car she accidentally forces a sharp metal sculpture into Neal, killing him violently.

This is not my favorite Argento piece but it is not a bad one either. Although I had to do some net research to get the story right it was a good ride. The gory scenes are beautiful, as only Argento can do and don’t forget to check out the dog chase scene.

- Jorge Antonio Lopez


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