Search - Tenebre on DVD

Actors: Anthony Franciosa, Giuliano Gemma, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D'Angelo, Veronica Lario
Director: Dario Argento
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
UR     1999     1hr 50min

After several excursions into supernatural horror, Dario Argento returned to the homicidal frenzy that made his reputation with this mystery that plays more like a grown-up slasher movie than a detective thriller. Anthony ...  more »


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Actors: Anthony Franciosa, Giuliano Gemma, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D'Angelo, Veronica Lario
Director: Dario Argento
Creators: Luciano Tovoli, Dario Argento, Franco Fraticelli, Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
DVD Release Date: 03/16/1999
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 50min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 13
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Jefferson N. from BLAIRSVILLE, GA
Reviewed on 11/20/2009...
Tenebre was Dario Argento's first foray into the giallo genre after breaking away to do his Three Mother's movies. And it was a glorious comeback! Tenebre has the typical slasher movie plot...someone is murdered by a man who sticks pages from a famous author's book in their mouth and the author, who has just arrived in the city after the murder ends up having to help solve the crime. But this one is differentiated by gory, brutal, but beautifully set-up murders and a mystery that I dare anyone to try and crack. The music from Goblin is wonderful and, as stated before, the killings are gory, but have a surreal, entrancing quality that only Argento can do. Dario can make an art out of the brutal. This is Argento at his best during the apex of his career. If you're a fan of his, you can't miss this one!

Movie Reviews

Phenomenal effort
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 09/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After seeing Dario Argento's 1982 (it is '82, not '87) film "Tenebrae," I have moved into the final phases of seeing his entire body of work. It was easy to claim ignorance of many of this Italian director's films until a few years ago because it was difficult to find them anywhere, let alone in an uncut form. Fortunately, DVD arrived on the scene and eager film fans with dollars to spend inspired numerous companies to start churning out any movie they could get their hands on. It wasn't too long before practically every Argento film arrived on store shelves, many of them in uncut, unrated formats. Unfortunately, most viewers have likely never heard of Dario Argento. These days more people know about the director's beautiful daughter Asia than the horror maestro himself. What a shame. Argento's films, at least the ones I have seen, are masterpieces of style injected with truly cringe inducing violence. For a few years in the 1980s and 1990s, Argento drifted away from his tried and true giallo formula, only recently returning to some semblance of form with "The Stendhal Syndrome" and "Sleepless." "Tenebrae" was Argento's first "return" to the giallo genre, after he strayed into the supernaturally themed "Suspiria" and "Inferno."

I happen to think "Tenebrae" may well be the best Argento film I have seen, even better than his first wave of gialli. It's the story of Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa), a popular writer of disturbing novels who travels to Italy to promote his latest thriller. Unfortunately for Neal, and more so for several other people, a killer decides to imitate the murders laid out in the author's most recent book. It isn't too long before the local police, in the form of Detective Germani (Giuliano Gemma), make the connection between the homicides and Neal's book. With his assistant Anna (Daria Nicolodi), book agent Bullmer (John Saxon), and a young man named Gianni (Christian Borromeo) standing by his side, the popular novelist soon joins the investigation into these grisly crimes. And grisly they are as only Dario Argento can make them. We see throat slashings, stabbings, a hand liberated from a wrist, and other gooey surprises shot in the sort of alarming, extreme close up that is a trademark of this director's brand of cinematic carnage. "Tenebrae" constitutes one of Argento's most disturbingly violent escapades into the giallo genre. It is, fortunately, one of his most coherent films as well.

Neal continues to promote his book even as he helps the police in the hunt for the killer. He faces a slew of protests about the supposedly misogynistic, ultra violent content of his novels from an angry female protestor and from a smarmy television critic on one of those face-to-face talk shows. Both of Neal's critics perish horribly soon after (surprise, surprise), thus throwing some suspicion on the author himself as a prime suspect. Of course, many others could very well be the ones putting on the black gloves. The only real clue we get from Argento, if you can call it that, is a weird flashback of a young woman tormenting a boy with her red-heeled shoes. As creepy carnival style music plays throughout the flashback, we then see the focus shift to the killer stepping out from behind a hedgerow to stab the woman. What this memory means, and why we see it from the perspective of the killer, soon emerges as "Tenebrae" draws to its ultra shocking conclusion. And the conclusion is shocking, containing some of the most graphic gore I've seen as well as a truly gasp worthy revelation I won't elaborate on here except to say other films ("Nightmares in a Damaged Brain" comes to mind) have used it to great effect. "Tenebrae" is a real treat for the horror fan.

Apparently, "Tenebrae" came about after a crazed fan stalked Dario Argento. Whatever the impetus for making this film, the result is one of the director's most entertaining excursions into the realms of horror. Aside from the graphic gore, we also get the requisite Argento photographic style. Check out that crane shot of the outside of the apartment building, a shot that runs on forever while building the suspense up to a fever pitch. Then there's the great chase scene with the dog, and the murder of the television critic that we see through the windows of his house. Argento truly achieves a masterful vision of mayhem with "Tenebrae." The performances, although dubbed in spots, are darn effective too. Franciosa does a great job playing the happy go lucky Peter Neal, and it's always great to see John Saxon in another horror film (even if he does spend a lot of time messing around with that confounded hat!). "Tenebrae" also ratchets up the suspense by employing yet another mesmerizing synthesizer score from Goblin. The music heard doing those flashback sequences ranks as one of the eeriest bits of music I've ever heard in a horror movie. Yes sir, "Tenebrae" worked on nearly every level for this genre fan.

Dario Argento would go on to make several non-giallo films after "Tenebrae" ("Phenomena" starring a young Jennifer Connolly among them) before heading back to his roots again. None of his recent black-gloved nightmare thrillers, however, can match the pounding intensity of this movie. Extras on the DVD include a commentary track, an alternate end credits music piece, and a couple of behind the scenes looks at the film. Less here than on other discs, perhaps, but the movie is so good you won't care. I'm starting to get a little sad since I'm running out of Argento films to watch for the first time. Nonetheless, I now know I can always come back to "Tenebrae" when I want to see the best Dario Argento has to offer.

Mind games from the master stylist: Top-drawer Argento
Libretio | 01/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)


(Italy - 1982)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Mono

While fans may be divided over the relative merits (or not) of Dario Argento's recent output, there's no denying the sheer visceral power of his earlier accomplishments. TENEBRE contains some of the most genuinely frightening material in Argento's entire filmography, and some of the best performances too. Anthony Franciosa is quietly convincing in his role as an American writer in Rome, targeted by an obsessive killer who's been modelling a series of murders on scenes from the author's latest book; and the hugely underrated John Saxon provides a memorable turn as Franciosa's shady literary agent (his final scene is a small masterpiece of observation, brilliantly edited).

The rest of the cast is less sure-footed, perhaps because these veteran European actors - including Daria Nicolodi and Giuliano Gemma - aren't entirely comfortable performing in English, though the entire cast play second fiddle to the director's bravura execution of the outlandish scenario. Argento takes great delight in toying with the audience's expectations and misdirecting them with clever bits of visual trickery, whilst punctuating the narrative with a series of horrific 'exclamation marks' (such as Veronica Lario dying in a spectacular welter of gore), culminating in a truly shocking finale. What's more, he indulges his trademark eccentricities without obscuring the plot or the characterisations, and the film takes its place alongside DEEP RED (1975) as one of the enduring giallos of the 20th century. A triumph.
Cinematically important
Libretio | 12/09/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As a film maker I cannot express how interesting it is to hear Argento talking about his own creations. Many critics, film historians and even audiences have never really taken Argento seriously, which is a real shame for them. Tenebrae is a beautifully crafted film, and although not as feverish as Suspiria or Inferno, the viewer still feels as if they are stuck in a really horrible dream. Argento is a worldclass director with a frighteningly voyeristic style. I found the scene where the girl finds out that she is in the murderers house and has to run away from the guard dogs so incredibly exploitative and nasty that i couldn't keep my eyes off it, just like when average people pass a car accident on the street. The ending just blows you away. I love this film and I really want Inferno, Suspiria and deep Red on DVD too."