Excellent picture quality but some missing footage (:40)
gswithen | Springfield, Virginia | 02/26/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Lord of the Flies
S J Søndergaard | UK | 03/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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 rather 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."
A Rock Musician Is Tormented By A Masked Killer (Classic Gia
J. B. Hoyos | Chesapeake, VA | 03/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For a very long time, I thought I would have to order an European release of "Four Flies on Grey Velvet" in the PAL format. Thankfully, it is now available in the United States in the NTSC format from Mya Communications. It was worth the wait. "Four Flies on Grey Velvet" is a superb giallo (murder mystery) from the Italian Hitchcock, Dario Argento; his other giallo masterpieces include "Deep Red" (my favorite), "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage," and "Tenebre."
A persistent theme runs through most of Argento's earlier gialli: Appearances can be very deceiving. Many of his main characters are very artistic; they consist of writers and musicians. In his later, more high tech, gialli, they are members of the police force. In "Four Flies on Grey Velvet," Roberto Tobias (Michael Brandon) is a handsome, young musician who is being stalked. He confronts and accidentally kills the stalker in an empty cathedral. Someone wearing a creepy, kewpie doll mask (remember the horror hit "Valentine"?) takes photographs of the incident.
During a party at his home, Roberto finds the photographs. Anyone could have planted them. The maid, however, knows who it is. She tries blackmailing the masked person. Unfortunately, the maid is killed at a park while running through a maze of tall, narrow stone walls and hedges - a great chase scene reminiscent of Mario Bava's "Baron Blood," which was released one year later. Indeed, "Four Flies on Grey Velvet" has some creative death sequences. No two victims are dispatched in the same manner. There is a stabbing, a bludgeoning, and a death by drug injection.
The acting is good. Mimsy Farmer, an American, found fame in Italian gialli. (Armando Crispino`s "Autopsy" is one of her most famous.) She is Roberto's wealthy, distraught wife, Mina Tobias. Francine Racetta is a gorgeous brunette; she plays Dalia, Mina's cousin who easily seduces the vulnerable Roberto. Jean-Pierre Marielle is fun to watch as the colorful homosexual detective, Gianni Arosio, who has never been able to guess the killer's identity until now.
A beautiful musical score has been provided by the famous Ennio Morricone who scored many of Clint Eastwood's Spaghetti Westerns and a host of gialli from other Italian directors. Morricone scored all of Argento's earlier gialli until the two parted company. Then the rock band Goblin began playing the music. Argento is famous for his masterful camera work and lavish set productions. (He was greatly influenced by his mentor, Mario Bava.) This is all evident by the masterful restoration performed by Mya Communications. Video and audio quality are excellent. The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Italian mono is provided but there are no English subtitles. Some scenes during the killer's explanation were never dubbed in English and have English subtitles. I wish, like Blue Underground's release of "Deep Red," that English subtitles had been provided throughout the film during the Italian mono.
Maya Communications has provided a gallery of posters and lobby cards. There is a restored theatrical trailer from Italy. The American trailers (television and theatrical) are not restored. There is no commentary from the director or from anyone else.
Needless to say, "Four Flies on Grey Velvet" is essential viewing for all fans of Dario Argento and fans of Italian gialli. It has a few twists to keep everyone happy. The explosive finale is awesome. "
Worth Owning if you Are an Argento Fan, But...
Robert W. Gomez | Chicago, IL United States | 04/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Bob Short | Sydney, Australia | 06/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Look, it's a vast improvement on the German semi bootleg that was floating around last year. Shame about the scratches on the print near the end. If you like Argento, you'll love this. Others may find its quirks a little odd. Those looking for a first Argento film should try Deep Red or Suspiria. That said, the Morricone score is worth admission price alone and there's some nice editing."