Tenebre (1982)

Rating: B-

Dir: Dario Argento
Star: Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D’Angelo, Veronica Lario

Tenebre is not part of the Three Mothers trilogy, which remains unfinished (Argento has scripted part III, Mother of Tears). However, in style if not theme, it takes a similar line; though supernatural death is replaced by prosaic murder, it still takes place in a hyper-real and detached world, supposedly futuristic, not that you’d really notice. Alongside Bava, second asst. director was Michele Soavi (he also cameos), making this an all-star crew. Some of the film is sheer showmanship – there’s a bravura camera-swoop over a house which adds nothing to plot or atmosphere yet remains a classic – and the plot is daft even by Argento’s lax standards (murders inspired by a book is about the most sensible aspect of it all).

It’s fairly wordy, and the sexual undertones are much more overt than usual; while it doesn’t always work, there are enough moments when it all comes together to overcome this. It’s a good transfer, probably from the same source used for the Roan Group laserdisc, with the end theme music restored, and while the movie is cut, a mere four seconds are gone – here [285K] is the main missing bit…

That edit was finally waived for good by the BBFC in 2002. Civilization, somehow, managed to weather this decision. The most amusing thing is probably that I felt the need to warn people about the size of the postage-stamp GIF, taking up a whole 285 KB of their precious 1999 bandwidth. There are also two different spellings of the title, with and without an “a”; I’ve gone for the one without.