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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 17, 2013
When Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa), a popular horror novelist visits Rome to promote his latest best-seller "Tenebrae", he is suddenly thrust into a world of murder and mayhem when a psychopath goes on a killing spree and uses techniques described in his book. The killer seems to be on a mission, killing off people (mostly women) who are morally corrupt and are referred to by the killer as "deviants".

This blood-soaked, fast-moving Argento flick is not in the same classic level as his masterpiece "Suspiria" or even "Deep Red" but his fans seem to love it regardless. The film is not really a horror film but a sexually charged thriller with an attractive cast, solid acting (although some of the dubbing is pretty annoying), creative camera angles (typical in an Argento film) and lot's of blood (again, typical of an Argento film). Like Argento's other work, this film is visually stunning. The entire cast is made up of photogenic, elegant actors; Daria Nicolodi, Mirella D'Angelo, Anthony Franciosa, John Saxon, Ania Pieroni and a whole array of European beauties. Argento also uses the color red effectively throughout this film; bright red lipstick, red stilettos, red cars, countless scenes of gleaming red blood. It takes someone like Dario Argento to make blood look so beautiful on screen.

This film was released in North America in a heavily edited form and under the insane title of "Unsane". I've never seen the edited version but apparently many scenes were cut in order for the film to get an "R" rating. "Tenebrae" may be violent but the violence itself is no more shocking then the numerous slasher films released from Hollywood throughout the decade so it's a mystery to me as to why this film was given this kind of treatment. It's a shame because not many people have been able to see this in its unedited form until it's DVD release.

"Tenebrae" (or "Tenebre") boasts a strong cast, a great score (maybe a bit outdated but it's awesome nonetheless), a good story, and an amusing twist finale. Like Dario's other film's; "Deep Red", "Opera", "Phenomena", "Inferno" and the enigmatic "Suspiria", "Tenebrae" is eerily suspenseful, looks splendid and is a worthy addition to anyone's DVD collection. Unless of course, watching beautiful women get the "axe" by a homicidal maniac isn't exactly your cup of tea.

Recommended.
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on September 7, 2002
Dreamlike, moody Argento thriller doesn't try to be the non-stop set-piece that is "Suspiria", but is startlingly seductive nonetheless. The many bits of almost inexplicable panic that shoot through the film: objects and comments whose portentousness is sometimes more evident to the viewer than the characters, sometimes not; quick bangs of unexpected intercutting; and a surreal sequence (dream? flashback?)that is introduced and finished without explanation-- contribute to a mood of nightmarish excitement, like one of those horrific dreams in which you've been thrown in with people of whom you know little, threatened on every side by an unseen menace. That menace takes the form of a serial killer making fiction-into-fact of Peter Neal's latest novel. Argento seems to be in a let-it-all-hang-out mood here (but when isn't he?); the thickly decadent Eurodisco soundtrack that accompanies these lovingly-staged slaughters seems designed to inhance any charges of turning murder into voyeuristic spectacle. The killings that immediately follow on the heels of that bizarre dream-sequence bear this out: they're a sex-and-death orgy that takes the horror genre into Baudelaire. But the richest and most elaborate sequence of all concerns the hotel owner's nubile daughter, who gets stranded in some very sticky circumstances in the middle of the night in Rome. Pitch-perfect.
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on September 7, 2002
Dreamlike, moody Argento thriller doesn't try to be the non-stop set-piece that is "Suspiria", but is startlingly seductive nonetheless. The many bits of almost inexplicable panic that shoot through the film: objects and comments whose portentousness is sometimes more evident to the viewer than the characters, sometimes not; quick bangs of unexpected intercutting; and a surreal sequence (dream? flashback?)that is introduced and finished without explanation-- contribute to a mood of nightmarish excitement, like one of those horrific dreams in which you've been thrown in with people of whom you know little, threatened on every side by an unseen menace. That menace takes the form of a serial killer making fiction-into-fact of Peter Neal's latest novel. Argento seems to be in a let-it-all-hang-out mood here (but when isn't he?); the thickly decadent Eurodisco soundtrack that accompanies these lovingly-staged slaughters seems designed to inhance any charges of turning murder into voyeuristic spectacle. The killings that immediately follow on the heels of that bizarre dream-sequence bear this out: they're a sex-and-death orgy that takes the horror genre into Baudelaire. But the richest and most elaborate sequence of all concerns the hotel owner's nubile daughter, who gets stranded in some very sticky circumstances in the middle of the night in Rome. Pitch-perfect.
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on April 12, 2001
After many years and after doing only supernatural movies (SUSPIRIA, INFERNO) Dario Argento returned to the genre that made him famous, the italian giallo genre. This was a well recieved film when it came out. And instead of using the dark cinematography he usually uses he decided to try making this film sunny and it does not lessen the impact of the film. It is about an american author named Peter Neal(Anthony Franciosa) who is promoting his new book TENEBRAE in Rome and while he's there a mysterious killer (using the black gloves that have become a recurring prop in Argento's giallo films) viciously murders "perverts" in the same way as in the book TENEBRAE. He murders a theif, lesbians, etc. He considers them perverts. The movie is relentlessly violent, especially towards the end and it has many plot twists. Argento relies more on narrative in this film than he usually does but it still has his same style. It again features a great score by Goblin and it also features the director's wife, Daria Nicolodi. For the recored she has been in many of his films(DEEP RED, INFERNO, TERROR AT THE OPERA a.k.a OPERA and PHENOMENA a.k.a CREEPERS). This is one of Argento's best films and it features many famous sequences, including a crane shot that was very difficult to pull off in those days.
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on March 6, 2001
Actually 4 1/2 stars. Tenebre isn't Argento's best movie but one things for sure: it's definately his funest to watch. And it is the best one for someone who doesn't know his work to watch first, I know people who don't like horror that say this one is at least ok. The story involves... ah, heck with the story it all been done before and maybe better(In my best Argento impression), let's skip to the review(if you want story check out Brian DePalma's Dressed to Kill which this one is a lot like). Tenebre is a slick, stalk and slash, gut 'em murder mistery done with style to burn and flash with a killer music score from Goblin(da da da dung, da na da dung, da na da dung, da da da dung). If you don't like style get out, if you do dig in. It is also very hard to find out who the killer is. Less talky than Deep Red, more real life and less gory than Suspiria(although the ax murder and the end are both filled with the red stuff), gorier and bloodier than The Bird with the Crystal Pumage, and more restrained than Opera and more sex and nudity than all of them makes this his most watchable film. This one get you hooked in the begining and doesn't let go until the end. If there was one that would of broke him into the big time this would be it. The only thing that holds it back from being 5 stars is some of the acting(Nicolodi is good until the end and the women almost all stink). High body count but every murder scene is very well set up and executed. It's ironic that Tenebre means darkness in latin while every scene in the movie has a color of white or grey making the red stuff easier to see. In closing, Tenebre isn't the best horror movie in the world but if you catch it in the right mood it can be a fun ride. Best scenes: the first five murders(the second one is killer,baby) , the second to last death(which Mr. DePalma would later lift in Raising Cain), The ax murder(lot of red stuff), the conversation between Franciosa and the cop at a crime scene, and the conversation between Franciosa and Steiner.
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on February 3, 2001
This is easily one of Argento's best works here. Although it is not as artistic and "hallucinatory" as his film "Suspiria", Tenebre itself is a film which every horror lover must have on their shelves. The reasoning?
For the murders alone it is worth watching. Us Americans rarely see such graphic violence, or shall I say, we don't say the graphic violence ANYMORE, and watching this movie is definitely a treat. The brutal ax murders are aimed at the chest, the arms, the head, etc. There is one scene, which is just almost breathtaking. An arm gets chopped off and the white wall is sprayed, like in a wave form, of blood. The image right there is wonderfully displayed, with the blood red against the pure white.
The dreamlike sequences in the killer's brain are also wonderfully filmed. Watching them, you do not know who it is about, who is dreaming this, what is going on? All you know, you are watching a girl (actually a transgender in real life, if I'm not mistaken...)in a white dress and red high heel shoes doing things. What is happening though I won't spoil. All I will say is that Argento is sly and clever with this film.
The camera, as always, tells the story great. Rather than just focus on the girls' in their rooms listening to Goblin's music, Argento uses the camera to crawl up the walls, the ceilings, look through the windows, creep through stairways, for over two minutes. Sound stupid, and annoying? It's not. YOu have to see it to appreciate it.
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on August 17, 2000
If you're looking for typical teen slasher fare, then this is *not* the film for you, but if you're looking for a truly adult serial killer terror film, Tenebre is a masterpiece. Argento's virtuso filmmaking technique is used to great effect in this film, creating genuinely sinister and suspenseful atmosphere, with amazing, sometimes jaw-dropping camerawork, brutal but elegantly staged murders, and all in the service of a very clever and well-plotted mystery from Argento that kept me guessing right up until the end.
The music score by members of long-time Argento collaborators The Goblins is used very effectively, and Anthony Francisosa gives a fine performance in the lead, as an American writer in Rome, who becomes personally involved when the murders in his lastest novel start coming true.
Anchor Bay has done a superb job with this release; if you are still buying VHS like me, this is about as good as it gets. The picture and sound quality are excellent, the VHS is letterboxed in the film's proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and is presented unrated and uncut, as all Argento films should be.
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on June 16, 2000
Absolutely marvelous! Featuring sophisticated, super-stylish cinematography, an engrossing plot, a hauntingly eerie score, and overly gratuitious gore, Tenebre is a must see for any true horror fan. Argento was inspired to write this after an obsessed Suspiria fan sent him a death threat, and the result is a raw, thoughtful piece of Italian horror. Once again, a trademark Argento killer with a predilection for black leather gloves is on the loose...inspired by murders from the protagonist's latest novel Tenebre. Of course, the movie is superbly shot and utilizes suspenseful vouyeristic angles. The music couldnt be more suitable, but the acting could have used some work. Among the most memorable scenes include flashbacks featuring real life transexual Eva Robins; these scenes are beautifully shot and quite vague until the end. Also this film contains the bloodiest axe murder i have ever seen in my eighteen years...it will send shivers down your spine! Granted, Tenebre is an extremely violent and gory film, but make no mistake; the kills are elegantly executed and done with such finesse that one almost forgets that murder is wrong. In comparison, over-top-gore films such as Dead Alive or Dawn of the Dead seem rather crass and childish. Though many consider Deep Red (an excellent film, by the way) to be Argento's masterpiece, I side with Tenebre. The pace is much, much quicker, the camera work is more complex, deaths are more dramatic, and the plot held my attention the whole way through. Deep Red (the full, uncut 126 minute version),with all due respect, suffers from pointless, lengthy dialogue and a few uneventful sequences..great ending though! If you have a choice, pick Tenebre. What Im trying to say is that Dario Argento is unequivocally the master of horror. Don't miss this one!
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on February 14, 2000
First and foremost, I must warn all TRUE Argento fans (and of this movie) that despite what Anchor Bay says (and prior reviews), this print of "Tenebre" is NOT uncut! Sure, it is the most complete print available retail on a prerecord tape, but this version is STILL missing full scenes and pieces of dialogue! Don't be fooled by the running time! This is also true of Anchor Bay's releases of other Argento classics such as "Demons" and "Phenomena". They are still cut! Anyways, "Tenebre" is still a good film, cut or not. If I could give it 3 1/2 stars I would (slightly better than 3 stars). The problem with the film is its pace. It is significantly slower than most of his other superior efforts, and the film suffers slightly. But there are certainly factors that redeem this film. As always, great camerawork is present. Also, the music by Goblin is great, one of their greatest soundtracks. And yes, it is quite gory and brutal (what did you expect)? This film is not for the weak of heart! The ending is especially brutal, with a savage axe dismemberment (thank god Anchor Bay at least kept this beautiful scene of Argento savagery and bloodletting intact). All things considered, "Tenebre" is a rather uneven, but technically accomplished and enjoyable film by the master.
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on January 4, 2000
Originally released domestically on video in a heavily edited version titled UNSANE, this Argento masterpiece is finally available in a widescreen, (almost) uncut version running 10 minutes longer than UNSANE. [Japanese laserdiscs include about one or two seconds of violence not present in the domestic video release.] The incredible crane shot, where the camera creeps along and up a building into the apartment of the killer's next victim, has been restored, as well as the shocking, well-staged blood-spattered dismemberment axing.
Many of the usual Argento elements are present: plenty of red herrings are tossed into the story to conceal the killer's identity, dream-like flashbacks may or may not supply clues to the mystery, and there are elaborate, sometimes disorienting camera angles and remarkable visual imagery that are inherent in all of Argento's work.
Sure, some of the dialogue is stilted, and some of the acting is a bit wooden (it's seems that Daria Nicoldi's voice may have been dubbed (or perhaps it's just some stiff acting)), but for me this never detracts from the suspense or beauty of the film. If you like beautifully lensed giallos with some graphic violence and mounting suspense, and can forgive some bad performances and dialogue, then you'll probably enjoy TENEBRAE.
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