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Encyclopedia > Tenebrae (film)
Tenebrae
Directed by Dario Argento
Produced by Claudio Argento
Written by Dario Argento
Starring Anthony Franciosa
John Saxon
Daria Nicolodi
Music by Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante (Goblin)
Cinematography Luciano Tovoli
Distributed by Titanus
Release date(s) 1981
Running time 101 min.
91 min. (cut version)
Language English/Italian
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

Tenebrae (also known as Tenebre) is a 1982 Italian horror thriller film written and directed by Dario Argento. The film stars Anthony Franciosa, John Saxon, and Daria Nicolodi. After having experimented with two exercises in pure supernatural horror, Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), Tenebrae represented Argento's return to the giallo form, a sub-genre he had helped popularize in the 1970s. The story concerns an American writer promoting his latest murder-mystery novel in Rome, only to get embroiled in the search for a serial-killer who has apparently been inspired to kill by the novel. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (856x1428, 243 KB) Summary Poster Art for Dario Argentos Tenebrae, taken from the insert of the Anchor Bay DVD Licensing This image is of a movie poster or title card, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by... Dario Argento. ... Anthony Franciosa in the 1989 Twilight Zone episode Crazy as a Soup Sandwich Anthony Franciosa, born Anthony Papaleo (October 25, 1928 – January 19, 2006), was an American actor. ... John Saxon John Saxon (born August 5, 1935) is an Italian-American actor. ... Daria Nicolodi is an Italian actress born on the 19th of June in Florence, Italy. ... Goblin are an Italian progressive rock band who are known for their soundtracks on Dario Argento films (e. ... Luciano Tovoli (born in 1936 in Massa Marittima, Italy), is an Italian cinematographer, film director, and screenwriter. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... DVD cover showing horror characters as depicted by Universal Studios. ... Thriller films are movies that primarily use action and suspense to engage the audience. ... Dario Argento. ... Anthony Franciosa in the 1989 Twilight Zone episode Crazy as a Soup Sandwich Anthony Franciosa, born Anthony Papaleo (October 25, 1928 – January 19, 2006), was an American actor. ... John Saxon John Saxon (born August 5, 1935) is an Italian-American actor. ... Daria Nicolodi is an Italian actress born on the 19th of June in Florence, Italy. ... Look up Supernatural in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Suspiria is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, and co-written by Argento and actress Daria Nicolodi, whom Argento was romantically involved with at the time. ... Inferno is a 1980 supernatural horror film written and directed by Dario Argento. ... S.S. Van Dines The Benson Murder Case, the first giallo ever published (1929). ... Look up genre in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Sherlock Holmes, pipe-puffing hero of crime fiction, confers with his colleague Dr. Watson; together these characters popularized the genre. ... Nickname: The Eternal City Location of the city of Rome (yellow) within the Province of Rome (red) and region of Lazio (grey) Coordinates: Region Lazio Province Province of Rome Founded 8th century BC Mayor Walter Veltroni Area    - City 1,285 km²  (496. ... Serial killers are people who kill on at least five separate occasions (according to the FBI handbook), taking breaks between murders. ...


The film was released in Italy and throughout most of Europe without experiencing any reported censorship problems, but was classified, prosecuted, and banned as a "Video Nasty" in the United Kingdom. Its theatrical distribution in the United States was delayed until 1984, when it was released in a heavily censored version under the title Unsane. In its cut form, Tenebrae received a mostly negative critical reception, but in recent years the original, fully restored version has become widely available for reappraisal. The film has been described as "Argento’s last real masterpiece". [1] European redirects here. ... Censorship is basically the editing, removing, or otherwise changing speech and other forms of human expression. ... Video nasty was a term coined in the United Kingdom in the 1980s that originally applied to a number of films distributed on video that were held by some to be unfit for domestic viewing. ...

Contents

Plot

Peter Neal (Franciosa) is an American writer of violent horror novels whose books are tremendously popular in Europe. In Italy to promote his latest work, entitled Tenebrae, he is accompanied by his literary agent Bullmer (Saxon) and his adoring assistant (Nicolodi). He is unaware that he is also being followed by his embittered ex-wife Jane (Veronica Lario). Immediately prior to Neal’s arrival in Rome, a beautiful young shoplifter (Ania Pieroni) is brutally razor-slashed to death by an unseen killer. The murderer sends Neal a letter informing him that his books have inspired him to go on a killing spree. Neal immediately contacts the police, who put Detective Giermani (Giuliano Gemma) in charge of the investigation, along with the detective’s female partner Inspector Altieri (Carola Stagnaro). Veronica Lario is the wife of Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi. ... Giuliano Gemma (born September 29, 1938) is an italian actor. ...


More killings occur. Tilde (Mirella D’Angelo), a beautiful lesbian journalist, is murdered at her home along with her lover. Later, Maria (Lara Wendel), the young daughter of Neal’s landlord, is bloodily hacked to death with an axe after stumbling into the killer's lair. Neal notices that TV interviewer Christiano Berti (John Steiner) appears to have an unusually intense interest in the novelist's work. At night, Neal and his second assistant Gianni (Christiano Borromeo) watch Berti’s house for suspicious activity. Neal decides to separate from Gianni in order to get a better view. Alone, Gianni watches in horror as an axe-carrying assailant brutally hacks Berti to death. But he is unable to see the murderer’s face. Gianni finds Neal unconscious on the lawn, having been knocked out from behind. John Steiner is a British actor, born on 7 January, 1941 in Chester, United Kingdom. ...

John Saxon as Bullmer (left) and Anthony Franciosa as Neal (right)
John Saxon as Bullmer (left) and Anthony Franciosa as Neal (right)

Giermani's investigation reveals that Berti was unhealthily obsessed with Neal's novels, and now that he is dead it is believed that the killings will cease. However, Bullmer, who is having an affair with Jane, is stabbed to death while waiting for his lover in a public square. Gianni is haunted by the thought that he had seen, but did not recognize, something important at Berti’s house during the night of the interviewer's murder. He returns to the house and suddenly remembers what was so important—he had heard Berti confessing to his attacker, "I killed them all, I killed them all!" Before Gianni can share this important detail with anyone, he is attacked from the back seat of his car and strangled to death. Image File history File links TenebraeCap. ... Image File history File links TenebraeCap. ...


Jane sits at her kitchen table when a figure with an axe leaps through her window, hacking off one of her arms. She spews gallons of blood over the kitchen walls before falling to the floor, the killer continuing to hack at her until she is dead. Neal is her murderer. Upon learning the details of Berti's sadistic murder spree, Neal had suddenly been overwhelmed by a forgotten memory involving Neal's murder of a girl who had sexually humiliated him when he was a youth in Rhode Island. The memory now constantly torments him and has inflamed his previously repressed lust for blood. Neal has become completely insane, and it was he who also killed Berti, Bullmer and Gianni. Official language(s) None Capital Providence Largest city Providence Area  Ranked 50th  - Total 1,214* sq mi (3,144* km²)  - Width 37 miles (60 km)  - Length 48 miles (77 km)  - % water 32. ...


When Inspector Altieri arrives at the house a few minutes after Jane's death, Neal kills her too. Later, Giermani and Anne arrive at the house in the pouring rain, and when Neal sees that he cannot escape, he commits bloody suicide in front of them. Anne runs outside to her car for a moment. Giermani relaxes and is suddenly murdered by Neal, who had faked his own death. Neal waits inside for Anne to return, but when she opens the door, she accidentally knocks over a metal sculpture that impales and kills the demented writer. The horror-stricken Anne stands in the rain and screams over and over again.


Production

Argento has claimed that Tenebrae was influenced by a disturbing incident he had in 1980 with an obsessed fan. According to Argento, the fan telephoned him repeatedly, day after day, until finally confessing that he wanted to kill the director. Although ultimately no violence of any kind came of the threat, Argento has said he found the experience understandably terrifying and was inspired to write Tenebrae as result of his fears.[2]


Although tenebrae/tenebre is a Latin/Italian word meaning "darkness" or "shadows",[3] Argento instructed his cinematographer Luciano Tovoli to film the movie with as much bright light as possible. Shot on location in Rome, much of the film takes place during daytime, or in harshly overlit interiors. Except for the finale and some night scenes, the entire movie is shot with clear, cold light permeating the surroundings. Argento’s stated rationale for this approach was an attempt to approximate the allegedly “realistic manner of lighting” utilized in television police shows. The director explained that he was adopting "...a modern style of photography, deliberately breaking with the legacy of German Expressionism. Today's light is the light of neon, headlights, and omnipresent flashes...Caring about shadows seemed ridiculous to me and, more than that, reassuring." [4] He also admitted that the lighting and camerawork used in Andrzej Żuławski's Possession (1981) greatly influenced his decision to have Tovoli shoot Tenebrae with such stark lighting. Latin is an ancient [[Indo-European languages|Indo-well as the Roman CEuropean language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... Luciano Tovoli (born in 1936 in Massa Marittima, Italy), is an Italian cinematographer, film director, and screenwriter. ... F.W. Murnaus Nosferatu German Expressionism, also referred to as expressionism in filmmaking, developed in Germany (especially Berlin) during the 1920s. ... Andrzej Å»uÅ‚awski (born November 22, 1940) is a film director. ... Possession is a 1981 dramatic horror movie directed by Andrzej Zulawski. ...


For one of Tenebrae's main setpieces, the murder of the lesbian couple, Argento and Tovoli employed the use of a Louma crane to film a several minutes-long tracking shot that acted as an introduction to the sequence. The tracking shot, due to its extreme length, was fraught with potential problems and proved to be the most difficult and complex part of the entire production to complete.[5] Patrick McAllister, writing as 'Ironwolfe' on Gerry Carpenter's Scifilm website described it as In motion picture terminology, a crane shot is a shot taken by a camera on a crane. ... In motion picture terminology, a tracking shot is the same as a dolly shot or a trucking shot--the camera is mounted on a wheeled platform that is pushed on rails while the picture is being taken. ...

"one of the most memorable moments in cinema: the crane tracking shot outside the downstairs and upstairs apartments of two people. The shot begins outside the lower apartment window, moves up to the second floor window, up and over the roof of the building, down the other side and to a window on the opposite side of the building. The shot lasts two and a half minutes without a pause, jerk or cut. If I was to be stuck on a desert island, I'd want Tenebre just so I could watch this single shot. (Amusingly enough—-or horrifyingly enough, depending on your point of view—-his distributor begged Argento to cut the shot down because it was "meaningless"). The shot stands out even more with the fact that the Luma [sic] camera used was new to the industry at the time, and was bulky and not as easy to use as it is now. The 2.5 minute sequence took three days to shoot." [6]

Although an Italian production, the film was shot with most of the cast members speaking their dialogue in English in order to increase its chances for successful exportation to the United States. For domestic consumption, the film was dubbed into Italian.[7] In the Italian language version, the killer's voice heard reading aloud from Neal's book in the opening sequence was supplied by Argento himself. In the English language version, Franciosa, Gemma, Saxon and Steiner all provided their own voices, while Nicolodi's voice was reportedly dubbed by actress Theresa Russell.[8] The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Russell in 2005 interview for the Criterion Collection DVD Bad Timing Theresa Russell (born Theresa Paup on 20 March 1957 in San Diego, California) is an American actress. ...


Response

Tenebrae had a wide theatrical release throughout Italy and Europe, something the director very much needed after having suffered major distribution problems with his previous film, Inferno. In the United States, however, the film fared far less well. It remained unseen until 1984, when Bedford Entertainment briefly released a heavily edited version under the title Unsane. It was approximately ten minutes shorter than the European release version and was missing nearly all of the film’s violence, which effectively rendered the numerous horror sequences incomprehensible. In addition, certain scenes that established the characters and their relationships were excised, making the film's narrative difficult to follow. Predictably, this version of Tenebrae received nearly unanimously negative reviews.[9] A Film distributor is an independent company, a subsidiary company or occasionally an individual, which acts as the final agent between a film production company or some intermediary agent, and a film exhibitor, to the end of securing placement of the producers film on the exhibitors screen. ...

The London Underground poster campaign replaced the slashed neck with a red ribbon
The London Underground poster campaign replaced the slashed neck with a red ribbon

In the United Kingdom, the film was shorn of five seconds of "sexualized violence" by the British Board of Film Classification prior to its theatrical release.[10][11] It later became one of the thirty-nine so-called "Video Nasties" that were successfully prosecuted and banned from sale in UK video stores under the Video Recordings Act 1984. This ban lasted until 1999, when Tenebrae was legally rereleased on videotape, with an additional one second of footage removed from the film (this version was also missing the previously censored five seconds). In 2003, the BBFC reclassified the film and passed it without any cuts.[12] Image File history File links Tenebrae_ribbon. ... Image File history File links Tenebrae_ribbon. ... The nickname the Tube comes from the circular tube-like tunnels through which the small-profile trains travel. ... British Board of Film Classification logo The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), originally British Board of Film Censors, is the organisation responsible for film and some video game classification and censorship within the United Kingdom. ... Video nasty was a term coined in the United Kingdom in the 1980s that originally applied to a number of films distributed on video that were held by some to be unfit for domestic viewing. ... The Video Recordings Act is a UK Act of Parliament that was passed into law in 1984. ...


The film has since been released basically uncut (minus approximately 20 seconds of extraneous material [13]) on DVD in the US, allowing the film to be properly evaluated for the first time. Ed Gonzalez, of Slant Magazine, said that "Tenebre is a riveting defense of auteur theory, ripe with self-reflexive discourse and various moral conflicts. It's both a riveting horror film and an architect's worst nightmare."[14] Keith Phipps, of The Onion's A.V. Club, noted "...Argento makes some points about the intersection of art, reality, and personality, but the director's stunning trademark setpieces, presented here in a fully restored version, provide the real reason to watch."[15] Almar Haflidason, in a review for BBC.co.uk , opined, "Sadistically beautiful and viciously exciting, welcome to true terror with Dario Argento's shockingly relentless Tenebrae."[16] Tim Lucas, in Video Watchdog, said, "Though it is in some ways as artificial and deliberate as a De Palma thriller, Tenebrae contains more likeable characters, believable relationships, and more emphasis on the erotic than can be found in any other Argento film." [17] This article is becoming very long. ... The Onion is a parody newspaper published weekly in print and on the Internet. ... The British Broadcasting Corporation, invariably known as the BBC (and also informally known as the Beeb or Auntie) is the largest broadcasting corporation in the world, employing 26,000 staff in the UK alone and with a budget of £4 billion. ... Tim Lucas is a film critic, novelist, blogger, and publisher/editor of the video review magazine Video Watchdog. ... The cover of Video Watchdogs first issue Video Watchdog is a film magazine started in 1990 by publisher/editor Tim Lucas and his wife Donna. ... Brian De Palma Brian De Palma (born September 11, 1940 in Newark, New Jersey) is an Italian-American film director. ...


Not all of the recent critical reaction to Tenebrae has been positive. Gary Johnson, editor of Images, complained that "Not much of Tenebre makes much sense. The plot becomes little more than an excuse for Argento to stage the murder sequences. And these are some of the bloodiest murders of Argento's career."[18] In 2004, Tim Lucas reevaluated the film and found that some of his earlier enthusiasm had dimmed considerably, noting that, "Tenebre is beginning to suffer from the cheap 16 mm-like softness of Luciano Tovoli's cinematography, its sometimes over-storyboarded violence (the first two murders in particular look stilted), the many bewildering lapses in logic...and the overdone performances of many of its female actors..."[19]


Themes

Critics have identified various major themes in Tenebrae. In interviews conducted during the film’s production, the usually somewhat reticent Argento offered his own views as to the thematic content of the film. As Maitland McDonagh noted in Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento, “…Argento has never been more articulate and/or analytical than he was on the subject of Tenebrae.” [2] In literature, a theme is a broads idea in a story, or a message conveyed by a work. ... Maitland McDonagh is an American film critic. ...


Vision impairment

Paul Flannagan has observed that Argento's protagonists in his giallo films almost always suffer from vision impairment of some kind. [20] It is these characters’ chronic inability to find the missing pieces of a puzzle (the puzzle being the solution of a murder or series of murders) that generally provides much of the films’ narrative thrust. Most obviously is the blind Franco Arno (Karl Malden) in The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971), who must use his heightened aural sense in combination with visual clues supplied to him by his niece to solve a mystery. In The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) witnesses a murder attempt but admits to the police that something seems to be “missing”; as the film’s surprise ending makes clear, he didn’t “miss” anything at all, he simply misinterpreted what happened in front of his eyes. In Deep Red (1975), Marcus (David Hemmings) has a similar problem in both seeing and not seeing the murderer at the scene of the crime, and doesn’t realize his mistake until its almost too late. (In discussing this recurring theme, Douglas E. Winter noted that Argento creates “a world of danger and deception, where seeing is not believing…” [21] Karl Malden portraying Gen. ... The Cat o Nine Tails is a 1971 Italian mystery thriller. ... Luccello dalle piume di cristallo, also called The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, is a suspense thriller directed by Dario Argento (his directorial debut) and released in 1970. ... Tony Musante (b. ... Please do not edit this page for the moment, even if you are rewriting it (follow the instructions below). ... David Hemmings in the late 1960s David Hemmings (18 November 1941 – 3 December 2003) was a British movie actor and director, whose most famous role was the photographer in Michelangelo Antonionis Blowup in 1966 (opposite Vanessa Redgrave), one of the films that best represented the spirit of the 1960s. ... Douglas E. Winter, American writer, critic and lawyer, was born 30 October 1950 in St Louis, Missouri and grew up in Granite City, Illinois. ...


Flannagan observes that in Tenebrae, Argento offers two separate characters who suffer from impaired vision. Gianni (Christian Borromeo) is an eyewitness to an axe-murder, but the trauma of seeing the killing causes him to disregard a vital clue. Returning to the scene of the crime, he suddenly remembers everything, and is promptly murdered before being able to tell a soul. Homicide Detective Giermani reveals that he is a big fan of the novels of Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane, Rex Stout, and Ed McBain, but admits that he has never been able to guess the identity of the killer in any of the books. He is similarly unable to solve the real mystery until the last corpses are piled at his feet -- he cannot see Peter Neal for what he really is. Agatha Mary Clarissa, Lady Mallowan, DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976), also known as Dame Agatha Christie, was an English crime fiction writer. ... Frank Morrison Spillane (March 9, 1918 – July 17, 2006), better known as Mickey Spillane, was an American author of crime novels. ... Rex Todhunter Stout (December 1, 1886 - October 27, 1975) was an American writer best known as the creator of the larger-than-life fictional detective Nero Wolfe. ... Evan Hunter (born Salvatore Lombino on October 15, 1926 - he had his name legally changed in 1952) is a prolific American author and screenwriter. ...


Neal, who ultimately responds to an ongoing series of murders by becoming a killer himself, emphatically introduces the theme of impaired vision when he admits to Giermani: “I've tried to figure it out, but I just have this hunch that something is missing, a tiny piece of the jigsaw. Somebody who should be dead is alive, or somebody who should be alive is already dead.” Of course, Neal himself is the “missing piece”, and in the end he will fake his suicide and become the “somebody who should be dead.”


"Aberrant" sexuality

In his study of the film, Flanagan argues that in Tenebrae, “male and female sexual deviancy are the central issues,” noting that Berti targets those he considers to be “filthy, slimy perverts ”. The first victim is a sexually promiscuous shoplifter, and his next two are the lesbian reporter and her bisexual lover. He kills the comparatively “normal” Maria only because she inadvertently discovers his twisted compulsion.


McDonagh notes that Tenebrae expands a theme already introduced in Argento’s earlier giallo films. "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat o' Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1972), and Deep Red are full of sex, of course: transvestitism and sexual role playing are in all four films central factors and none lacks for imagery dealing in diverse sexual behavior. But Tenebrae’s overall sensuality sets it apart from Argento’s other gialli.” She says that the film’s sexual content and abundant nudity make it “the first of Argento’s films to have an overtly erotic aspect,” and further notes that “Tenebrae is fraught with free-floating anxiety that is specifically sexual in nature.”[2] Four Flies on Grey Velvet (4 Mosche di velluti grigio) is a 1972 Italian mystery thriller film written and directed by Dario Argento and produced through a joint French-Itallian effort. ... This article deals with the history of the word transvestite. For information about cross-dressing, see there. ...

Eva Robin's as a sadistic temptress
Eva Robin's as a sadistic temptress

Flanagan and McDonagh – and, indeed, most critics – have noted that two sexually charged flashbacks are key to understanding Tenebrae. These distinct but strongly related memory fragments are introduced repeatedly throughout the course of the film, usually immediately following a murder sequence. Although these flashbacks are never fully explained, the first of these memories reveals a beautiful young woman’s sexual humiliation (basically, an oral rape) of a teenaged boy (presumably Peter Neal) on a pale-white beach, followed (in the second flashback) by the vicious revenge-murder of the woman some time later. The young woman (played by transgender actress Eva Robin's) is mostly topless during this first sequence, and she humiliates the young man by jamming the heel of one of her Freudian shiny red shoes into his mouth while he is held down by a group of gleeful boys. McDonagh notes that all of the fetishistic imagery of these flashbacks, combined with the sadistic details of the murder sequences in the main narrative, “set the parameters of Tenebrae’s fetishistic and fetishicized visual vocabulary, couched in terms both ritualistic and orgiastically out of control…Peter Neal indulges in sins of the flesh and Tenebrae revels in them, inviting the spectator to join in; in fact, it dares the viewer not to do so.”[2] Image File history File links TenebraeNightmare. ... Image File history File links TenebraeNightmare. ... A flashback is a psychological phenomenon in which someone remembers a past experience. ... Transgender (IPA: , from trans (Latin) and gender (English) ) is an overarching term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society. ... Eva Robins is a transsexual Italian actress and activist, born male and developed extremely feminine features naturally. ... Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939; IPA pronunciation: []) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. ... A fetish (from French fétiche; from Portuguese feitiço; from Latin facticius, artificial and facere, to make) is a natural object believed to have supernatural powers, or in particular a man-made object that has power over others. ...


Dark doubles

In his review of Tenebrae, Kevin Lyon observes, “The plot revolves around the audacious and quite unexpected transference of guilt from the maniacal killer (about whom we learn very little, itself unusual for Argento) to the eminently likeable hero, surely the film's boldest stroke.” [22] While also noticing this device as being “striking,” McDonagh notes that this guilt transmission/transfer occurs between two dark doubles, two seriously warped individuals. She suggests that “Neal and Berti…act as mirrors to one another, each twisting the reflection into a warped parody of the other.”[2] Berti’s obsession with Neal’s fiction compels him to commit murder in homage to the writer, while Neal seems to think that his own violent acts are simply part of some kind of “elaborate fiction.” When the bloody Neal is confronted by Giermani immediately after having killed numerous people, Neal screams at him, “It was like a book…a book!”


McDonagh notes that Argento also emphasizes a similar doubling between Neal and Giermani. "Giermani...is made to reflect Neal even as Neal appropriates his role as investigator...the detective/writer and the writer/detective each belittles his other half, as though by being demeaned this inverted reflection could be made to go away." McDonagh also observes that, in what is arguably the film's most potent shock, Neal at one point really does make Giermani "go away", virtually replacing him on screen "in a shot that is as schematically logical as it is logically outrageous."[2]


An imaginary city

In an interview that appeared in Cinefantastique, Argento noted that the film was intended as near-science fiction, taking place "about five or more years in the future...Tenebrae occurs in a world inhabited by fewer people with the result that the remainder are wealthier and less crowded. Something has happened to make it that way but no one remembers, or wants to remember...It isn't exactly my Blade Runner, of course, but nevertheless a step into the world of tomorrow. If you watch the film with this perspective in mind, it will become very apparent." [23] Despite Argento's claim, Maitland McDonagh observed that this vaguely science-fictional concept "isn't apparent at all" [2] and, in fact, no critics noted the underlying futuristic theme in their reviews of the theatrical release of the film. Cinefantastique is a horror, fantasy, and science fiction film magazine started in 1970 by publisher/editor Frederick S. Clarke. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Blade Runner is an influential 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. ...


While rejecting this thematic concern as unrealized by Argento, McDonagh noticed that the result of the director’s experiment is a strange “architectural landscape” that becomes the “key element in differentiating Tenebrae from Argento’s earlier gialli.” Argento’s use of unusual architectural space and so-called visual “hyper-realism” results in an enormously fake looking environment. Seizing on the director's additional comment, “…I dreamed an imaginary city in which the most amazing things happen”, she notes that the film’s “fictive space couldn’t be less 'real'…Its imaginary geography is pieced together out of fragments of 'Rome'…that emphasize vast unpopulated boulevards, piazzas that look like nothing more than suburban American malls, hard-edged Bauhaus apartment buildings, anonymous clubs, and parking garages.”[2] Reconstructed main building of the Bauhaus Dessau (2003). ...


Influences

Bill Warren has observed that Tenebrae “is in most ways a typical giallo: visually extremely stylish, with imaginative, sometimes stunning, cinematography...mysterious, gruesome murders, often in picturesque locations; at the end, the identity of the murderer is disclosed in a scene destined to terrify and surprise.”[24] Those narrative and stylistic clichés had been introduced years before Argento had ever made his first thriller (most critics point to Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) as the original giallo[25]). By the time he made Tenebrae, Argento had become the acknowledged master of the sub-genre, to the point where he felt confident enough to be openly self-referential to his own past. Tim Lucas notes that Argento explicitly “quotes some of his earlier films with affection: the reckless driving humor from The Cat o' Nine Tails, the image of horror revealed behind the hero as he bends down from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.” [17] Bird’s climactic “murderous use of a large and unusual sculpture” [26], in which the killer is pinned beneath a huge work of art, is also recycled/referenced in the final moments of Tenebrae. William Bond (Bill) Warren (born 1943) is an American film critic who has been particularly active in the science fiction community. ... Mario Bava (July 31, 1914-April 27, 1980) was an Italian director and cinematographer remembered as one of the greatest names from the golden age of Italian horror movies. ... The Girl Who Knew Too Much (La Ragazza che sapeva troppo) is an Italian film by Mario Bava released in 1963. ... A self-reference occurs when an object refers to itself. ...


McDonagh argues that Argento’s influences for Tenebrae were far broader than just his own films or previous Italian thrillers. She notes that the film’s “surprisingly strong narrative” is suggestive of “the most paranoid excesses of film noir.” McDonagh suggests that Fritz Lang’s Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) (‘in which a man convicted of murder on false evidence…is in fact guilty of the murder”) and Roy William Neill’s Black Angel (1946) (“in which a man who tries to clear a murder suspect does so at the cost of learning that he himself is the killer”) both utilize such a similar plot twist to Tenebrae that Argento may very well have used them as partial models for his story . This still from The Big Combo (1955) demonstrates the visual style of film noir at its most extreme. ... Friedrich Anton Christian Lang (December 5, 1890 – August 2, 1976) was an Austrian-American-jewish film director, screenwriter and occasional film producer, one of the best known émigrés from Germanys school of expressionism. ... Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest level of burden of persuasion typically employed in the criminal procedure. ... Roy William Neill was a film director known for directing several of the Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. ... Duryea and Vincent in Black Angel Black Angel is a 1946 black-and-white film noir based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich. ...


Legacy

Coming at the tail end of the giallo cycle, Tenebrae does not appear to have been as influential as Argento’s earlier films were on subsequent thrillers. However, many of the characters, scenes and plot turns in Lamberto Bava’s A Blade in the Dark (1983) were arguably directly inspired by Argento’s film.[27] Lamberto Bava (Born April 3, 1944) is an Italian film director who is the son of Mario Bava. ...


Douglas E. Winter has opined that Tenebrae’s Louma crane sequence was stylistically influential and was specifically “replicated in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987).” [21] In Raising Cain, De Palma’s “surprise reveal” of John Lithgow standing behind a victim is often discussed as being an unacknowledged “steal” from Tenebrae.[28] Robert Zemeckis’s What Lies Beneath (2000) also contains a very similar moment, although Zemeckis has denied having any familiarity at all with Italian thrillers.[29] Brian De Palma Brian De Palma (born September 11, 1940 in Newark, New Jersey) is an Italian-American film director. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Raising Cain is a 1992 film starring John Lithgow. ... John Lithgow John Arthur Lithgow (pronounced lith-go) (born October 19, 1945, in Rochester, New York) is an actor perhaps best-known for his starring role as Dick Solomon in the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. ... Robert Lee Zemeckis (born May 14, 1952) is an Academy Award-winning American movie director, producer and writer. ... What Lies Beneath is a 2000 motion picture that tells the story of a housewife who finds her home is haunted. ...


Soundtrack

Main article: Tenebrae (soundtrack)
Tenebrae CD cover
Tenebrae CD cover

Argento had used the Italian rock band Goblin to provide the musical scores to two of his previous films, Deep Red (1975) and Suspiria (1977). The group had disbanded in 1980, but three of the band's members -- Claudio Simonetti (Roland Jupiter-8, Roland Vocoder Plus, Minimoog, Piano, Electric piano, Oberheim DMX Digital Drum, Roland TR-808, Roland MC4 Computer), Fabio Pignatelli (Fender bass normal and fretless), and Massimo Morante (Electric and Acoustic Guitar) -- reunited at Argento's request to work on Tenebrae. The resulting synth-driven score was credited to "Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante". Tenebrae is the soundtrack to Dario Argentos film of the same title, first released as an album in 1982, and reissued most recently in 2004 with multiple bonus tracks. ... Image File history File links TenebraeCD.jpg‎ [edit] Summary CD cover of Tenebrae soundtrack album [edit] Licensing This image is of a music album or single cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the album or the artist(s) which produced the... Image File history File links TenebraeCD.jpg‎ [edit] Summary CD cover of Tenebrae soundtrack album [edit] Licensing This image is of a music album or single cover, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the album or the artist(s) which produced the... Rock group (or later rock band) is a generic name to describe a group of musicians specializing in a particular form of electronically amplified music. ... Goblin are an Italian progressive rock band who are known for their soundtracks on Dario Argento films (e. ... Claudio Simonetti (born February 19, 1952 in São Paulo, Brazil) is a Brazilian music composer who has specialized in the scores for Italian and American horror films since the 1970s. ... The Jupiter-8 was Rolands flagship analog synthesizer of the early 1980s, an eight-voice polyphonic synth which helped to define the New Wave genre, and it is still quite popular today. ... A vocoder (name derived from voice encoder, formerly also called voder) is a speech analyzer and synthesizer. ... The Minimoog is a monophonic analog synthesizer, invented by Robert Moog. ... A grand piano, with the lid up. ... An electric piano (e-piano) is an electric musical instrument whose popularity was at its greatest during the 1960s and 1970s. ... Oberheim Electronics is a company, founded in 1973 by Tom Oberheim (a former design engineer at Maestro), which manufactured audio synthesizers and a variety of other electronic musical instruments. ... Roland TR-808 The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer was one of the first programmable drum machines (TR serving as an acronym for Transistor Rhythm). Introduced by the Roland Corporation in late 1980, it was originally manufactured for use as a tool for studio musicians to create demos. ... Martin EB18 Bass Guitar in flight case. ... The fretless guitar is a guitar without frets (including similarly configured bass guitars known as a fretless bass). ... Different kinds of guitars The guitar is a fretted and stringed musical instrument, used in a wide variety of musical styles, and is also widely known as a solo classical instrument. ... A synthesizer (or synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument designed to produce electronically generated sound, using techniques such as additive, subtractive, FM, physical modelling synthesis, or phase distortion. ...


While not as well regarded as Goblin's earlier scores for Deep Red, Suspiria, or Dawn of the Dead (1978), Tim Lucas felt the soundtrack is "...so fused to the fabric of the picture that Tenebrae might be termed...a giallo musicale; that is, a giallo in which the soundtrack transcends mere accompaniment to occupy the same plane as the action and characters." [19] This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Soundtrack refers to the recorded sound accompanying a visual medium such as a motion picture, television show, or video game. ...


The Tenebrae soundtrack album has been enduringly popular enough to have had multiple reissues in numerous countries since its original release in 1982 on the Italian Cinevox label. That version consisted of only eight tracks. In 1997, Cinevox issued a greatly expanded version on CD, including eleven bonus tracks, with a running time of over an hour. In 2004, the expanded CD was released in the U.S. on the Armadillo Music label. A soundtrack album is any album that incorporates music from a particular feature film. ... A Compact Disc (CD) is an optical disc used to store digital data, originally developed for storing digital audio. ... In terms of recorded music, a bonus track is a piece of music which has been included on specific releases or reissues of an album. ...


Tenebrae or Tenebre?

The European publicity materials for the film, including posters and lobby card sets, advertised the film as Tenebre, and the 1999 Anchor Bay DVD release utilizes that same title. However, on the print itself, during the opening credits, the title is clearly Tenebrae. In addition, the title of Peter Neal’s latest book in the film is shown in closeup as being Tenebrae.


On the DVD review website, DVD Times, Michael McKenzie argues that the film's actual title is Tenebre, since it is that title that was "used for the Italian prints and the cover of the US DVD." [30] But another DVD Times reviewer, Michael Brooke, takes the opposite view, stating, "...the box says Tenebre, but the title that actually appears on screen (both on the film itself and the trailer) is Tenebrae, which is in fact the title under which this 1982 Dario Argento film was released in Britain, and indeed the title under which it was accused of being a "video nasty" in the moral panics that engulfed the country..." [31]


References

  1. ^ Ali, Nadeem. Goblin & Dario Argento: A Match Made In Hell. New-noise.net. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h McDonagh, Maitland. Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento, Citadel Press, 1994. ISBN 0-9517012-4-X
  3. ^ Bratcher, Dennis. The Days of Holy Week. CRI/Voice, Institute. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  4. ^ Gans, Christophe. Starfix Magazine, Issue # 1, January 1983, interview with Argento (reprinted in McDonagh’s Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento)
  5. ^ Argento, Dario. Tenebrae DVD, Audio Commentary, Anchor Bay Entertainment, 1999, ASIN: B00000IBRJ
  6. ^ McAllister, Patrick. Reviews, TENEBRE (1982). Scifilm. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  7. ^ Biodrowski, Steve. Tenebrae (1982) Review. Hollywood Gothique. Retrieved on 2006-03-22.
  8. ^ Howarth, Troy (2000-03-17). Tenebrae. DVD Maniacs. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  9. ^ Lucas, Tim. The Video Watchdog Book, Video Watchdog, 1992. ISBN 0-9633756-0-1
  10. ^ Mendik, Xavier (November 2003). Dario Argento. Senses of Cinema. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  11. ^ A-Z of Video Nasties. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  12. ^ Christopher, Neil. The Video Nasties Furore: The Prosecution of the DPP's 74. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  13. ^ Tenebre AKA Tenebrae AKA Unsane (1982). DVD Compare (2002-11-13). Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  14. ^ Gonzalez, Ed. Tenebrae Review. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  15. ^ Phipps, Keith. Tenebre Review. A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  16. ^ Haflidason, Almar. Tenebrae Review. bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  17. ^ a b Lucas, Tim. Video Watchdog Magazine, issue #49, pgs. 68-72. Review of Tenebrae Laserdisc
  18. ^ Johnson, Gary. The Dario Argento Collection. Images. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  19. ^ a b Lucas, Tim. Video Watchdog Magazine, issue #108, pgs. 71-72. Review of Tenebrae DVD
  20. ^ Flannagan, Paul. "Aberrant" Sexuality in Tenebrae. Contamination. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  21. ^ a b Golden, Christopher (Editor). Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film, Chapter on Argento by Douglas E. Winter, pgs 268 – 288. Berkley Books, 1992. ISBN 042513282X
  22. ^ Lyons, Kevin. Tenebre Review. The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  23. ^ Jones, Alan. Cinefantastique Magazine, Vol.13, No.6 / Vol.14, No.1, pgs. 20-21, interview with Argento
  24. ^ Warren, Bill. Tenebrae DVD Review. Audio Video Revolution. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  25. ^ Erickson, Glenn. The Girl Who Knew Too Much DVD Review. DVD Savant. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  26. ^ Erickson, Glenn. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage DVD Review. DVD Savant. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  27. ^ A Blade in the Dark Review. The Terror Trap. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  28. ^ Biodrowski, Steve. Tenebre Review. Hollywood Gothique. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  29. ^ Bernocchi, Robert. What Lies Beneath Venice Festival Report. Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  30. ^ Mackenzie, Michael. Tenebre Review. DVD Times. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.
  31. ^ Brooke, Michael. Tenebre Review. DVD Times. Retrieved on 2006-04-22.

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External links

  • Tenebrae at the Internet Movie Database
  • All Movie Guide: Tenebrae entry
  • KinoEye on Tenebrae
  • Dario Argento interview about Tenebrae
  • Aberrant sexuality in Tenebrae
  • Tenebrae and Autobiography

 
 

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