Directed By Dario Argento
Starring: Anthony Franciosa, Daria Nicolodi, John Saxon, and Giuliano Gemma
Running Time: 101 minutes
DVD Studio: Anchor Bay
Novelist Peter Neal (played by Anthony Franciosa) arrives in Rome to promote his new book, Tenebrae, a detective novel. At his hotel room, Peter is greeted by two police detectives, Germani (Giuliano Gemma) and Altieri (Carola Stignaro), who inform him that a young woman was murdered and had pages of his newest novel stuffed into her mouth. Since he was on a plane to Italy when the murder took place, Peter is not a suspect but it seems that the killer is using his book as inspiration for his crimes.
As Peter makes more press appearances in Rome with his agent, Bullmer (John Saxon), in tow, more women turn up dead. With the help of his secretary, Anne (Daria Nicolodi), and his assistant, Gianni (Christian Borromeo), Peter decides to try his hand at solving the case himself. The killer continues his rampage through Rome, getting closer and closer to destroying Peter Neal and everyone around him.
Dario Argento (The Stendhal Syndrome, Phenomena) directs Tenebre, the giallo supreme. With his usual visual flair, Argento astounds the viewer with breathtaking cinematography and a willingness to spill lots and lots of blood. The camera sweeps up and over buildings while the music pulses on. Goblin provides one of their most memorable and jolting progressive rock soundtracks (second only to Suspiria).
Anthony Franciosa (Julie Darling, Web Of The Spider) is excellent as the charming and intelligent, Peter Neal. The lovely Daria Nicolodi (Deep Red, Shock) is as vivacious as ever in another great role. And John Saxon (Cannibal Apocalypse, A Nightmare On Elm Street) is perfect as the scheming and greedy, Bullmer.
The rest of the cast is a veritable whoís who of European horror and sleaze regulars. For instance, Christian Borromeo of House On The Edge Of The Park is very good as the adventurous Gianni. The hauntingly beautiful Ania Pieroni from Inferno and The House by the Cemetery is the shoplifting Elsa Manni, the killerís first victim. Even victim #4, Maria, is played by Lara Wendel of My Dear Killer and Zombie 5: Killing Birds. And Iíd feel guilty if I didnít mention John Steiner from Cut And Run and Caligula, who plays the obsessive and very misguided Christiano Berti.
Despite a few head-scratching moments such as Anthony Franciosa riding his bicycle on the freeway and a killer Doberman that scales 8 foot fences, Tenebre is a grand horror flick filled with fantastic scenes. When the killer rinses his bloody straight razor under a faucet, the blade resonates as the water runs over it producing one of the most terribly beautiful moments in the film. Also, there is a death scene near the end that will restore anyoneís faith in early 80s Italian horror. I donít want to give anything away but Iíll just say that someone decides to paint a wall with their arteries.
The final act of Tenebre is one of the most excessively satisfying climaxes in all of horror films. Youíll never forget the rain and blood-soaked conclusion. The acting, the direction, the lighting, the gore, the razor, the axe, and even one post modern sculpture, are all incredibly sharp. Like much of Argentoís best work, Tenebre gets better and better with each viewing. If youíre considering getting into Italian horror, and more specifically, gialli, then put this film at the top of your list.