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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind games from the master stylist: Top-drawer Argento
TENEBRE

(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...
Published on January 22, 2000 by Libretio

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Instant Video Version is the Edited Cut
Just letting everyone know that if you have purchased or rented the Instant Video verson of this film, you will be viewing the edited 91-minute version titled "Unsane", which omits around 10 minutes of key footage during the murder sequences.
Published 22 months ago by CHatz


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Instant Video Version is the Edited Cut, April 30, 2013
This review is from: Unsane (Amazon Instant Video)
Just letting everyone know that if you have purchased or rented the Instant Video verson of this film, you will be viewing the edited 91-minute version titled "Unsane", which omits around 10 minutes of key footage during the murder sequences.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind games from the master stylist: Top-drawer Argento, January 22, 2000
This review is from: Tenebre (DVD)
TENEBRE

(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.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal effort, September 13, 2004
This review is from: Tenebre (DVD)
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Argento's true masterpice, June 16, 2000
By 
This review is from: Tenebre [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Absolutely marvelous! Featuring sophisticated, super-stylish cinematography, an engrossing plot, a hauntingly eerie score, and overly gratuitious gore, Tenebre is a must see for any true horror fan. Argento was inspired to write this after an obsessed Suspiria fan sent him a death threat, and the result is a raw, thoughtful piece of Italian horror. Once again, a trademark Argento killer with a predilection for black leather gloves is on the loose...inspired by murders from the protagonist's latest novel Tenebre. Of course, the movie is superbly shot and utilizes suspenseful vouyeristic angles. The music couldnt be more suitable, but the acting could have used some work. Among the most memorable scenes include flashbacks featuring real life transexual Eva Robins; these scenes are beautifully shot and quite vague until the end. Also this film contains the bloodiest axe murder i have ever seen in my eighteen years...it will send shivers down your spine! Granted, Tenebre is an extremely violent and gory film, but make no mistake; the kills are elegantly executed and done with such finesse that one almost forgets that murder is wrong. In comparison, over-top-gore films such as Dead Alive or Dawn of the Dead seem rather crass and childish. Though many consider Deep Red (an excellent film, by the way) to be Argento's masterpiece, I side with Tenebre. The pace is much, much quicker, the camera work is more complex, deaths are more dramatic, and the plot held my attention the whole way through. Deep Red (the full, uncut 126 minute version),with all due respect, suffers from pointless, lengthy dialogue and a few uneventful sequences..great ending though! If you have a choice, pick Tenebre. What Im trying to say is that Dario Argento is unequivocally the master of horror. Don't miss this one!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cinematically important, December 8, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Tenebre (DVD)
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tenebrae Bowdlerized, June 14, 2013
By 
Manly Pointer (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Unsane (Amazon Instant Video)
"Tenebrae" is one of Argento's best films. This version isn't "Tenebrae"-- it's "Unsane," the version the original US distributor released, after cutting, slicing, chopping, and otherwise excising not just from the scenes of violence, but also dialogue scenes that help establish motivation and character connections. The result is a disjointed, almost surreal mess.

If you haven't seen Argento's cut of "Tenebrae," find that and watch it instead. It's an inventive film about art and reality, and the ways in which those two don't always intersect. It's also a nifty mystery story with an outlandish twist. It's a real masterpiece. This is nonsensical, but enough of Argento shows through that it can still be appreciated. But only if you've seen Argento's cut. If not, you'll probably be scratching your head, wondering what in the hell is going on. And not in a good way.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Argento's best, August 17, 2000
This review is from: Tenebre [VHS] (VHS Tape)
If you're looking for typical teen slasher fare, then this is *not* the film for you, but if you're looking for a truly adult serial killer terror film, Tenebre is a masterpiece. Argento's virtuso filmmaking technique is used to great effect in this film, creating genuinely sinister and suspenseful atmosphere, with amazing, sometimes jaw-dropping camerawork, brutal but elegantly staged murders, and all in the service of a very clever and well-plotted mystery from Argento that kept me guessing right up until the end.
The music score by members of long-time Argento collaborators The Goblins is used very effectively, and Anthony Francisosa gives a fine performance in the lead, as an American writer in Rome, who becomes personally involved when the murders in his lastest novel start coming true.
Anchor Bay has done a superb job with this release; if you are still buying VHS like me, this is about as good as it gets. The picture and sound quality are excellent, the VHS is letterboxed in the film's proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and is presented unrated and uncut, as all Argento films should be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thoughtful examination of the line between art and life, March 24, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Tenebre [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Tenebre represents both the apex of Dario Argento's career and the Giallo genre itself. By taking the genre back to its roots (films like Blood and Black Lace and Argento's own Bird with the Crystal Plummage), Argento is able to propel it into whole new realms, redefining Giallo as surely as he originally defined it in 1969. Tenebre is actually one of his more tightly constructed narratives (again inviting comparisons to Bird...), yet the story is still secondary to the film's visual and emotional effectiveness. In choosing to set the film entirely in bright, modern locations, Argento creates a world more unsettling than any he has used before, here, the bright lights of modern city light are hopelessly unable to illuminate a darkness deeper and more disturbing than mere surface creepiness. He also creates an extremely contemporary, vaguely futuristic, backdrop for acts of primal, brutal violence. Indeed, this is one of his most violent films, as well as his most sexual (a noticeable deviation from the few before this one). It also poses interesting questions about creators of violent art. Does violence affect the mind, or is a tendency towards violence the product of an already disturbed mind? Argento might very well be questioning his own motives in doing what he does. That the film provides no easy answers is not a fault, due to poor writing, but a chilling reminder that there are no easy answers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Slashing We Will Go! A Slashing We Will Go! Hi Ho the Dario, a Slashing We Will Go!!, October 1, 2008
By 
This review is from: Tenebre (Special Edition) (DVD)
Boy that's catchy! Here I am back in Europe again. I'm really starting to warm up to these Italian films. I even like their mediocre movies. But mediocre this is not! Amazingly, this is the very first Dario Argento film that I've seen. I was going to dive into "Susperia" but was warned away by advice from my friends the "experts". So I backed off and went for this; a simple little slasher film. Jeez, I can be misleading!!
This isn't complicated, but it's certainly not simple either. I know, I know; "Just shut up and get to the point EK!!"

-A VIRGIN TAKE ON DARIO ARGENTO.
What can you say about a guy who will shoot film of his own daughter in the nude? You can say "ALLRIGHT!!" that's what. Though I would never do it (and not just because I'd get arrested), this guy has few standards when it comes to nudity and gore other than "more please". In the 1980's this was gold for horror fans. It doesn't play too badly today either. Besides those obvious deviant traits, Argento is a bold and creative visionary. You can almost see his brain working as he tries to come up with a really creative way to shoot a scene. Sometimes it looks pretentious. The rest of the time it's bloody brilliant. Not every shot is creative, but in the right situation; lookout!!! Argento's story telling is a bit clumsy at times but he definitely had some tricks up his sleeves for "Tenebre". I'm not sure if I made an accurate assessment watching just one film but that's my take for now.

-IT AINT OVER UNTIL IT'S OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER...
If you've read the synopsis of "Tenebre" (and you should, because I'm not going to tell you), you'd know this is about a serial killer stalking an author of the titular book while reenacting the murders contained within. I know I've seen this before, but I'm not sure where. Regardless, it's a plot device Argento has some fun with. This mystery is a real puzzler and I would have never guessed it. However, when the mystery is solved, the murders continue. Now, up to this point, I had no clue who the killer was. But as soon as the suspect is revealed, I immediately unraveled the second mystery. Yea, there's a second mystery and the movie is really only half over. The great thing is, now we get more murders and some real mass carnage! Even though I solved the second mystery as soon as it presented itself, not only was I actually surprised by the ending but I WAS COMPLETELY SUCKERED!!!

-ITALIAN DUBBED. ITALIAN FUNNY!
It's really kind (and financially wise) of Italian film makers in general, to do these films in English. Even American actors have their voice dubbed on occasion if something didn't turn out right. They happen to be pretty good at this and it never was a distraction. In fact, as brutally goofy as some of the dialogue was in "Tenebre" other parts were uproariously witty. My favorite dialogue was between the author, "Mr. Neal" and the police detective. I'm not going to quote anything here; that would spoil the fun. But I highly recommend you look out for these conversations because they are amongst the best in any horror film. This detective would put "Columbo" to shame (despite amazon's review)!

-CARNAGE. OVER THE TOP WE GO!!!
Oh yea, this carnage is way over the top!!! It's absolutely beautiful. I think I'm going to weep (sniff). Seriously, besides one of the coolest dog chase scenes you'd care to see, we get a bushel of throat slashing, a peck of head splitting, a liter of impalement, a gallon of spine splitting and a quart of good old fashioned stabbing. Throw in a pinch of dismemberment with fountains of blood and I think "over the top" is where we end up. But carnage in itself is not a beautiful thing. It's a delicate art form. You need to set the mood. To achieve this end, Argento kindly plays "Goblin" music just before every murder; how 80s cool is that! Though not quite the theme from "Jaws", it sure helped me ratchet up my expectations and excitement when I heard it. If you have only a mild tolerance for gore, you'll be ok. This stuff never looks real which is why I thought it was so much fun.

-ITALIAN WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL TOO.
So, what more do you want me to say? All right, I should say something. One thing I learned from this film about women in Italy, Rome in particular, is that they never wear bras. In fact, they have a hard time covering the parts that matter, most of the time. Even when they try to cover things, they just end up uncovered again. I've never seen such slippery women. The funniest part of all is when Argento basically admits he's a sexist pig during one scene in this movie; a badge he seems to wear with pride. Just try to get me to complain about it!

-THIS IS NO MYSTERY AT ALL.
If I made this film sound too goofy, I must apologize. It really is played straight with great characters and a well paced story. The actors all do an above average job. What makes it so fun is the audacity of it all. Argento is about as bold as they come when it come to creativity with a camera, gore and nudity. I'd never call the guy a master cinematographer, but he gets huge points for pushing the envelope. Though I make light of it, the story is actually well thought out and cleverly pulls a fast one (or two) on the viewer. I never even mentioned the interesting choice of scenery; some very cool places. Make no mistake, this is not brain food. But it won't bore you either. My biggest problem may be ridiculous expectations for future Argento films currently in the mail. If you want a bloody good time, this is for you. (jeez this is long, sorry).

Story.....3.8 stars
Acting...4 stars
Visuals...4.7 stars
Gordity...5 stars

Average....4.38 Stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All I can say is "Whoa!", May 27, 2003
By 
This review is from: Tenebre (DVD)
Dubbed the Italian Hitchcock by his American fans, Dario Argento is one of those filmmakers who is completely uninhibited with his use of the camera and gore effects. He sets himself apart from other filmmakers by setting himself free upon the world he creates and showing it to us in the greatest possible detail. His camera movements are always purposeful and stunning, and he always adds the right amount of lighting and atmospheric music to make up for the poor post-sync dubbing. (Sometimes watching an Argento movie is to relive the best follies of the Godzilla films as you watch people's mouths move totally out of place from the dialogue.)
"Tenebre" is one of those movies that stays under your skin for long after you've watched it. It has a tense plot, decent acting, and a climax of such shocking violence that we're left with the image of blood spraying a grotesque mural on a wall burned into our brains. Argento's darkest side gets unleashed in this film. His creativity was obviously at the top if its form when he thought of the camera move that scales the entire exterior of a house up to the top floor, moving into a close up on the roofing tiles, and then back out to a medium shot on an intended victim standing in a window. This shot creates a great deal of tension, even with the bad music playing in the background. (The DVD shows a behind the scenes featurette about the creation of this one memorable shot.)
The plot of the film is too ridiculously simple to take a long time to explain. In fact, other films have used it since then. "Basic Instinct," for example, is about a serial killer who murders her victims in the same fashion as is written in novels by her favorite author. "Tenebre" came out before "Basic Instinct", and has almost exactly the same plot, minus the gratuitous sex scenes and lesbianism. I wonder if Ezterhas was an Argento fan. Doesn't matter. Argento's film buries "Basic Instinct" with a style Paul Verhoeven can't hope to match. It rises above most of Argento's other films as a classic of the pulp horror genre. A word of warning, though: Do not eat anything before you watch it.
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Tenebre (Special Edition)
Tenebre (Special Edition) by Dario Argento (DVD - 2008)
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