Tenebrae on DVD and Blu-ray

Monday, 27 June 2011 08:14

Made in between his more famous supernatural horror outings, "Tenebrae" ("Darkness") represents a relative return to normality for the maestro of terror, Dario Argento. When American horror novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa - "The Long, Hot Summer", Matt Helm, The Name of The Game) arrives in Rome to promote his latest best seller, a serial killer steals his limelight by committing a brutal murder and creating a connection to the author via a cryptic letter.

Detective Germani (Giuliano Gemma) and his assistant commence their investigation whilst trying to protect the writer, and Neal's deal-hungry agent (2005 Cult TV guest John Saxon - "Enter The Dragon", "From Dusk Till Dawn") encourages his client to promote his book around the city as liberally as possible. As the killer turns their attention to Neal's entourage, the police worry that he could be the ultimate target.

Tenebrae comes to DVD and Blu-rayThe plot and atmosphere of "Tenebrae" are far more down to earth than in many of Argento's other movies. Whilst it might be less interesting from a thematic perspective, Argento wastes no time in notching up an array of typically stylish and well-staged murder scenes. Tension is not always high on the agenda, but there is an persistent fascination with who the killer is and who they will pounce on next.

As is often the way with murder mysteries surrounding thriller writers, Neal cannot shake his fascination with the case, leading him to take more than his fair share of life-threatening risks. He is a suave and charming character, and Franciosa does a great job in making him credible.

Saxon's part is essentially a less swaggering and cocky version of Roper from his kung-fu epic, charming but definitely motivated by cash. Best of the bunch, though, is Gemma as the police detective. He strikes a perfect balance between healthy suspicion and his desire to serve the public.

Special mention has to go to a lengthy action scene starring a very intelligent, tenacious and athletic Doberman dog. After you have witnessed it scale two high fences in pursuit of its quarry and seek out a way into a house, the serial killer will be all but forgotten!

As per a number of other Argento releases, the band Goblin provide the soundtrack. This time around (in the early 1980s) the music is a more varied mixture of prog-rock and pseudo dance numbers in the style of Daft Punk. Occasionally it does not quite gel with the gothic action, but most of the time you will be tapping your feet and getting sucked into the narrative because of the enhanced atmosphere it helps to generate.

The Blu-ray version reviewed is very crisp but features a quite discernable level of grain during interior scenes. You get used to it but it is obvious and constant enough to be worth mentioning. Exterior scenes look vibrant and really bring out the lush green foliage of the streets and gardens where much of the action is centred.

Special features on this release include:

  • Four sleeve art options with original and newly commissioned art work
  • Double-sided fold-out poster
  • Exclusive collector's booklet featuring brand new writing on Tenebrae by Alan Jones, author of Profondo Argento
  • Brand new HD restoration of the film (on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Optional original mono English and Italian audio
  • Audio Commentary with Argento experts, journalists and writers Kim Newman and Alan Jones
  • Audio Commentary with Argento expert Thomas Rostock
  • Introduction by Daria Nicolodi
  • Screaming Queen! Daria Nicolodi remembers Tenebrae
  • The Unsane World of Tenebrae: An interview with Dario Argento
  • A Composition for Carnage: Claudio Simonetti on Tenebrae
  • Goblin: Tenebrae and Phenomena Live from the Glasgow Arches
  • Original Trailer

All in all this is a very good selection of extras that covers all the bases. The highlight has to be the mini Goblin revival concert, even if it does only feature two live tracks!

“Tenebrae” (1982) is out now, courtesy of Arrow Video. The main feature has a running time of 110 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £15.99 on DVD, £21.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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