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Tenebre
Tenebrae / Unsane / Sotto gli Occhi dell'assassino

Italy 1982
produced by
Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento (executive) for Sigma Cinematografica
directed by Dario Argento
starring Anthony Franciosa, Daria Nicolodi, John Saxon, Giuliano Gemma, Eva Robins, Roberto Coatti, Mirella D'Angelo, John Steiner, Christian Borromeo, Veronica Laria, Ania Pieroni, Lara Wendel, Carola Stagnaro, Ennio Girolami, Monica Maisani
written by Dario Argento, music by Goblin (credited as Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli, Massimo Morante), assistant director: Lamberto Bava, second assistant director: Michele Soavi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Crime novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) comes to Rome to promote his new book Tenebre only hours after a girl (Ania Pieroni) has been brutally murdered, & inspector Giermani (Giuliano Gemma) finds certain parallels to Peter's book & thus questions him ... & he was right to do so too, as soon, Peter receives a phonecall, possibly from the killer.

Eventually, more murders occur, most victims somehow related to Neal, so it becomes evident to Neal & his little entourage - his secretary/girlfriend Anna (Daria Nicolodi), his agent Bullmer (John Saxon) & his teenage assistant Gianni (Christian Borromeo) - that the killer has to have some relations to Peter too ... but who could it be ?

Peter's half-mad ex-fiancée Jane (Veronica Laria), whom Peter thinks he has seen in Rome, against all expectations ?

Or tv-host Alberti (John Steiner), who seems to be fascinated by the message of Peter's latest crime novel about eliminating all perversion ?

Together with Gianni, Peter decides to spy out Alberti, but when they get separated & Gianni sneaks up to Alberti's house, he witnesses Alberti brutally murdered ... of course, later Peter & Gianni tell nothing about their little spying game to the police ... but Gianni is convinced he has witnessed a vital clue but forgotten all about it, so he goes back to Alberti's house at night ... & really, he did in fact hear Alberti confess all the killings just before he was killed ... but Gianni doesn't live to tell the tale, because soon he is strangled, too.

but strangled by whom ?

It turns out that Peter's mad ex Jane is indeed in Rome, & she has an affair with Bullmer ... but then Bullmer is stabbed, in broad daylight at a public place, too, & Jane was not too far to the crimescene.

Later that day, Jane calls anne for help, & she seems to be suffering from schizoid depression ... but before Anne can get there, Jane is killed, killed by ... Peter, of course, & while he's at it, Peter also kills a woman who hastens to the crimescene ... police inspector Altieri (Carola Stagnaro) ... which is witnessed by both Anne & police inspector Giermani. Being caught, Peter is reduced to a whimpering coward, but when he is about to be arrested, he slits his throat ... case solved, victim dead - or so it seems, as the knife Peter has killed himself with was only a fake, & soon he places an axe in the back of Giermani, who only begins to suspect what has happened ... but ultimately, Peter is accidently killed by a sculpture, a work of modern art ...

But why did Peter do it ?

a) He had problems with women, ever since he killed one as a teenager (his guilt was never proven).

b) He wanted to get rid of Bullmer & Jane, & a psychokiller on the loose is naturally a cut-out culprit  for Peter's murders (as Peter cannot be held responsible for all the murders, having arrived in Rome only after the first one occured).

 

As so often with Daario Argento's giallos (an uniquely Italian form of whodunnit thrillers, almost invariably featuring psychokillers), this film features a rather stupid, sometimes illogical whodunnit plot, but concentrates less on narrative logic as it is but more on the (graphic) depiction of the murders on one hand, the process of investigating on the other, both of which is done with style & panache. & this is what makes the movie - despite its shortcomings - rather enjoyable.

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD