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Originally, Four Flies on Grey Velvet was meant to be the last part of Dario Argento's "Animal Trilogy" and his Swan song with the Giallo genre. Attempt to dive into other film genres which did not succeed when "Le Cinque Giornate", a historical comedy, failed at the box-office and with the public. Third collaboration with Morricone, whose excellent soundtrack I gave a glowing review, Four Flies on Grey Velvet was the movie where the two artists would argue over track choices Argento didn't want. Which would start a break-up that would last for more than twenty years. Until the Stendhal Syndrome's production.
Of the story, a drummer named Roberto Tobias gets stalked by a sun-glassed man whom he accidentally murders when confronting the man in an abandoned theatre. An incident where a person wearing a sinister mask takes photos of the incident and flees the scene. A psychopath who stalks our hero, terrorizing him, up to the point that he decides to ask the help of various individuals. A journey of terror and revelations as his whole world becomes shattered at the hands of an assailant who manages to murder those who have uncovered the truth. Ending in a cinematographic climax that leaves the viewer in shock. Over what he has seen and all the emotions he has felt through this tragic adventure Argento encourages us to watch in complete darkness. A great idea as the tension becomes more oppressing, feeding our fear of what lurks behind our seats may even jump down on us. Making scenes with Tobias's maid and the cousin of his wife more uncomfortable and scary.
So why the 4 stars instead of five?
Indeed, one of Argento's major and unfortunate weaknesses is his actors director's skills.Read more ›
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Along Came a SpiderMarch 22 2009
- 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
Excellent picture quality but some missing footage (:40)Feb. 26 2009
- 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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
horror/murder mystery shines on blu ray.Nov. 9 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Dario Argento made many classic mystery horror movies in his career. He managed to be make successful movies that were well recieved around the world. this was his third film, the first two 'the bird with the crystal plumage' and this was followed by 'cat o nine tails' , both are available in very good blu rays in the u.s. This one, his third movie , is only available from the uk in this all region blu ray. It will play on your player here without a problem. I went to amazon.comuk to get a cheaper price on this item though. This one has been restored and looks fantastic, it looks like a brand new ptint, as if you were sitting in the theater back in 1972!. Shameless remastered this and removed print damage, they also found some lost elements and put them back in. those elements are from vhs quality film and they are rare. But you have the option to watch the film without the added footage. (which is not alot of footage actually!). This is how I wish all old movies were treated on blu ray! This is restored and has not looked this good for a long time. IN fact it was thought to be a lost movie , with only bad prints available. They found the print though and restored it and it looks great. The movie itself is a sandard giallo about a killer who is hunting down people , and a hero who must defeat the evil one. Giallos are movies that follow that type of formula. They are usually bloody and at the time they were pushing the level in violence onscreen hugely. Giallos had their peak from 1968-79. with few made after that , whereas in that period hundreds were made! the blu ray looks fantastic here, like all restored movies from that era. There are several extras on here as well. A first class effort from shameless. A company that delivers in older italian horror/giallo movies both on dvd and now blu ray. This movie is not up to 'deep reds' level of greatness however. It was that movie which was a monster classic hit and this one was a decent good solid giallo. the cating is good in this one , with the excellent Mimsy farmer doing a great job in the female lead position. Mimsy was one of the better actresses working in italian horror during this period. If you love dario argento and giallos this one is for you. Or if you just love to see a 40 uyear old movie treated with respect and restored on blu ray then this is good one. After all most older horror movies are not getting this type of treatment on blu ray. The classic film 'becket' got this treatment and for a horror to equal that kind of treatment is outstanding.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Retinal Scan...March 28 2011
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...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Early Argento, and it's well worth the wait...March 22 2009
C. Christopher Blackshere
- Published on Amazon.com
Well alrighty! It took almost 4 decades to catch 4 Flies, but here it is! This is a very solid conclusion to Argento's Animal trilogy. It just might be my favorite of the three.
Roberto is an up-and-coming musician. One night he confronts a stranger that had apparently been stalking him. There's a bit of a struggle, an accidental murder, and someone watching with a camera. Ohhh snap, let the mind games begin....
FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET is classic Argento stuff--atmospheric, suspenseful, clever camera shots, dark humor, creepy music, plus some stylistic, high-impact violence & blood splatter. It all builds up into one heckuva interesting and layered giallo like only Dario can deliver.