Tenebrae (1982)

The famous author Peter Neal is on a publicity tour through Italy when a mysterious killer begins staging murders after those found in his most recent novel. Neal must partner with the police and follow a trail of intricately-placed clues in order to unmask his obsessed fan. Dario Argento's TENEBRAE is an iconic film amongst Giallo enthusiasts, pushing each of the defining characteristics of the genre to their extremes! It includes everything the Italian film fan has come to love: a sadistic black-gloved killer, psycho-sexual themes, incomprehensible twists, and a series of exotic deaths. In spite of its convoluted plotting and lapses in logic, this brilliantly-crafted suspense thriller still manages to utterly shock and surprise audiences. The stylish murder sequences are as brutal and bloody as they are beautifully shot. Nothing is ever ugly in an Argento film, and even death is portrayed as a macabre masterpiece! TENEBRAE also includes one of the director's most complicated, impressive, and completely unnecessary crane shots that takes the viewer in, up, and around an entire two-story building to find a woman under attack on the other side. The exhilarating electric stylings of Italian rock group Goblin add an additional level of excitement to the high-powered murders found throughout the film. Considered by many to be Dario Argento's greatest Giallo (let alone film), TENEBRAE is an absolute must-see in the genre, and an incredible thrill ride of shock and suspense!

Rating: 9/10.
Gore: 8/10.

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  1. I cant help feeling this was something of a regression for Argento after 'Suspiria' and 'Inferno'.

  2. For me, that could only be in the sense that he had started on a highly inventive road of Fantasy Horror before returning to the genre that made him famous, but in terms of style and skill, I have always felt that TENEBRAE is easily DEEP RED's equal. I love this film, it is one of my all-time favs!

  3. In terms of style and skill yes it probably is the equal to 'Deep Red', but I dont think it adds anything to what was present in 'Deep Red' and I dont think it adds much to the giallo. The interesting part of it for me is the self reflexive attitude Argento takes towards screen violence and questions of misogony. If he had made the protagonist a horror filmmaker it would have been well ahead of its time (and maybe more interesting). Dont get me wrong, I do like the film, but I do consider it lesser Argento. It is the dire films he made in the 1990's and beyond have made 'Tenebre' look like a masterpiece...enjoyable review though Carl!

  4. And I appreciate the comments Shaun, it is always hard to break away from personal opinion, which is why I love being amidst so many other knowledgeable Horror fans! I would have to agree with the self-reflective nature of the film, much to the same extent that I believe Color Me Blood Red was an outlet and exploration for HG Lewis.

    With the exception of the 90s trash, Argento's films are easily on the top of my list, and I prefer his excessive Gialli over any others in the genre. I respect Fulci's Duckling and Lizard, but I just have never enjoyed them. Still have yet to explore Martino's films, and I know there are huge gaps in the breadth of my Giallo knowledge. If nothing else, Deep Red and Tenebrae can claim to be two of the most entertaining entries in the genre!

  5. The key to appreciating 'Tenebre' (the spelling I choose to use) is that it was made in a time when people said that 'Giallo was dead.' Argento basically said 'Oh yeah?' and made this movie.

    Personally, I rank 'Tenebre' over 'Inferno' (style over substance), but under 'Suspiria' (a must own). My favorite Giallo film from Argento is still 'Phenomena.' I'm in the minority on liking Argento films made after 1982, but I don't care. Hell, I thought that 'The Mother of Tears' was great too.

    In regards to Giallo as a whole, I've evidently seen more than you, Carl, and I can tell you that there are a lot of generic ones out there. Stuff like 'The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave' and 'The Red Queen Kills Seven Times' are decent, while others like 'The Black Belly of the Tarantula' are not.

  6. I would follow those ranks as well, and I would add Opera just below Tenebrae but above Inferno, and Inferno fan above anything in the 90s. I liked Phenomena, but not nearly as much as even Inferno.

  7. Given your banner, it's obvious that you like 'Opera.' Honestly, I'm a big fan too. While it does contain the dumbest film victim ever (the fashion designer who helps our heroine), it is quite good.

    My problem with 'Inferno' was that it didn't explain enough. It's a classic for the lighting, set design and that awesome swimming scene. However, it feels like some key explanations were cut out in favor of style.

    Besides, it's a Mario Bava/Dario Argento co-production- how could it possibly live up to its own hype?

    In addition, 'Phenomena' is one of the few cases where you can see Argento kill off his ex-wife/lover AND one of his daughters. Asia is too perky to ever die, but, evidently, her older sister was not!