TENEBRE (1982) – The Dungeon Review!
Dario Argento has been one of my favourite horror film directors for as long as I can remember. I have watched several of his films multiple times and in my opinion ‘Tenebre’ is one of his best. It is one of Argento’s most graphic entries, containing more violence and nudity than his previous offerings. It also has one of the best finales EVER!
Author Peter Neal travels to Italy to promote Tenebre, his latest book. When he arrives at his temporary lodgings he is greeted by two police detectives. A local woman has been found slashed to death by a straight razor with several pages of his new book shoved into her mouth. This is only the beginning in a string of Tenebre-inspired murders. As the bodies continue to pile up around him, Neal unwillingly becomes involved in the case and even does a little detective work of his own.
‘Tenebre’ has a classic Giallo setup and is one of Argento’s most plot-driven films that offers twists and turns around every corner. Story is not sacrificed for style but certainly the trademark Argento is present. The most obvious example of this is a lengthy crane shot of the outside of a house that travels up and over the roof and then finally down to where we see the killer breaking in. There are several memorable death sequences, among them, a curvy, large-breasted woman running naked from her killer who dies in grand style with her head crashing through glass. There’s a dog attack, strangulation, and death by knife, axe and razor. Another aspect of ‘Tenebre’ I find fascinating is the bizarre, dreamy flashback sequence revealed to us in snippets throughout the film. The focal point is a woman in a white dress wearing red pumps. The viewer doesn’t know which character is having the vision, but the woman in the white dress clearly torments them. She teases relentlessly; showing her breasts to a random group of men. Later in the segment she is seen repeatedly kicking the unknown person and then shoving the heel of her red pump into their mouth.
The performances are great across the board. Anthony Franciosa is excellent as Peter Neal and Daria Nicolodi gives one of her best performances as his assistant. The two have great chemistry together. The supporting cast are also excellent, particularly John Saxon who plays Neal’s sleazy agent. Lara Wendel who plays Maria, the landlord’s jailbait daughter and Christian Borromeo who plays errand boy Gianni are both solid and memorable in their roles. A bevy of beautiful woman, including transsexual Eva Robins also leaves a lasting impression.
‘Tenebre’ is a well-filmed, suspenseful and gory horror-thriller complimented by a score composed by ex-Goblin members Morante, Pignatelli and Simonetti. I’ve seen this film multiple times and even though I know how it all turns out, the finale is never any less thrilling. ‘Tenebre’ is a rock solid horror film and one of my all time favourite Gialli. Highest of recommendations!
Dungeon Rating: 5/5
Directed By: Dario Argento
Starring: Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D’Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Eva Robins, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Giuliano Gemma