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Dario Argento's Four Flies on Grey Velvet [Import]

Michael Brandon , Mimsy Farmer , Dario Argento    Unrated   DVD

List Price: CDN$ 32.14
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Dario Argento's Four Flies on Grey Velvet [Import] + Cat O' Nine Tails (Widescreen)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Along Came a Spider March 22 2009
By GoldfishNation - Published on Amazon.com
First, a word of caution - if you haven't already seen the film you'd do well to avoid Amazon's image gallery as it pretty much gives the game away.

As with the previous two entries in the unofficial Animal Trilogy, Four Flies on Grey Velvet is short on explicit gore but brimming with atmosphere and artistic ingenuity, with set-piece murders primed and mined for maximum tension. It was with this film that Argento began to cement his particular style and is something of a crucible for future ideas. The murder of Roberto's maid in a local park foreshadows John Saxon's fate in Tenebre, and with its sudden lapses in time and attempted escape through the cobwebbed space between two buildings (to a soundtrack of whispers and sighs) it also sows seeds that would flourish in Suspiria. Other visual motifs (crimson curtains, extreme close-ups, inanimate objects suddenly wielded by a seemingly maniacal camera) would be repeated or re-jigged in Deep Red, Phenomena and Opera.

Argento's original intention was to have a gay protagonist and though the character of Roberto is still open to such a reading - his victimisation being as a result of a fear of being outed (as a murderer) has obvious correlations (note also Brandon's shaggy mane v Farmer's gamine crop or the rather tame bathtub scene with Francine Racette which sees Roberto playfully seducing his mirror image) - the more overt references are passed to Jean-Pierre Marielle who brings immense likeability to a small role as the PI hired by Roberto, and whose swish factor is tempered by a steely determination to finally cracking a case. A frosty Farmer acquits herself well, though Brandon is merely okay. Argento's fascination with weird science (here ludicrous by design but ingenious in execution) gives the film its animal-themed title, and the finale boasts one of his greatest sequences - a stunning, slow-motion shot of a car impacting with the back of a lorry, which marries chillingly beautiful aesthetics to Hollywood folklore, scored with Morricone's haunting "Come un Madrigale".

Having spent nearly 40 years in bootleg hell the picture quality in this release is a revelation, as has been noted, however, the English audio is problematic, there are no English subtitles included for the full Italian audio and there are minor cuts to transitions between scenes which are occasionally jarring. How much of a nuisance all this proves comes down to personal taste, but chuck in a couple of obvious factual errors on the sleeve blurb and sadly it amounts to a rather sloppy rush-release from MYA, whose claims of "fully uncut and with an astounding picture and sound quality" are at best over-zealous.

Four Flies is a solid giallo and an important entry in the Director's canon which bears repeated viewing, blurring gender roles and sexual identity, adding subtext and hit and miss humour, asylum flashbacks, well-executed deaths and a recurring nightmare in the form of a sun-bleached, public beheading - the significance of which turns out to be twofold. It also has in spades what a good Argento giallo conveys like no other, that chilling feeling of something wholly alien on the loose in human form.
26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent picture quality but some missing footage (:40) Feb. 26 2009
By gswithen - Published on Amazon.com
After suffering for so long with fuzzy VHS bootlegs, I was very much looking forward to this release. It's certainly the best the film has ever looked but after going through every single scene and comparing it to the recent RetroFilm DVD, I found that there are three scenes with missing footage totaling :40. These occur during scene transitions and include dialogue. Also, the speed of the audio seems slowed down. If you listen to Mimsy and Michael, their voices are way too deep compared to previous versions or films. It sounds like they rushed this release once they got the exclusive rights instead of getting it perfect. That is too bad. This could have been the one. It is not. I gave it 3 stars for the picture quality alone.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Retinal Scan... March 28 2011
By Bindy Sue Frønkünschtein - Published on Amazon.com
I spent years telling myself that "One day, I'll watch all of Argento's movies!". Well, up until recently, I'd only seen DEEP RED, TENEBRE, PHENOMENA, and SUSPIRIA. A few weeks ago, I watched INFERNO and BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, leading me to finally see FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET. I must say that FLIES is superb, even w/ it's sometimes-goofy characters and lifeless leading man. Argento is indeed a genius of suspense, mystery, and horror, using symbols and colors to paint his gloriously bizarre pictures. The scene of the victim entering the tight, labyrinthine passageway is brilliant! We feel her desperation and doom! If you love Argento giallos, then this one is a must...
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Owning if you Are an Argento Fan, But... April 26 2009
By Robert W. Gomez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Four Flies ranks somewhere in the middle of Argento's films. Way better than is 90s era stuff like Trauma, but not quite on par with Suspiria or Deep Red. Still I'd recommend it to anyone who is is even mildly an Argento fan.

I have mixed feelings about this DVD. The picture quality is great, and, let's face it, the visuals are really the main attraction in any Argento film. There is an ugly black line across the screen during the climax, but, after checking the video on some of the bootleg copies that are floating around the 'net, this appears to be part of the source film?

Also, the sound quality is poor but passable. Basically, the audio is crackly, like an old, dusty vinyl LP. Often it is too quiet and you'll be leaning in to your TV trying to hear the dialogue or the wonderful Ennio Morricone score.

Fans will still have to wait for the perfect DVD of 4 Flies, but, for the time being, this version will do fine.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A early example of a later master March 31 2010
By rndkr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This early Dario Argento giallo boasts mainly a haunting Ennio Morricone score and a few excellent set-pieces to make it well worth viewing (the fact that it's been unavailable in a decent, viewable format up until last year also lent it a certain holy grail mystique for Argentophiles like me). The performances by Jean-Pierre Marielle as a flamboyantly gay detective (he brings a certain dignity to an obviously stereotypical role) and Mimsy Farmer as the hero's jittery wife are nicely done; Michael Brandon fares less well as the wooden, none-too-sympathetic leading man. There are several stylish directional touches here that hint of the delirious highwater mark that was still to bloom full flower in Argento's mid-seventies-to-early-eighties work (in Deep Red through Opera, to be exact), particularly in the groovy opening credits and in the slo-mo final sequence, the latter of which achieves a poetry rare in horror films. Those knock out moments bump up my final rating a half star: ***1/2 out of *****

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