Tenebrae (1982)

GodfuckingDAMNit, what’s the point of including multiple language soundtracks on a DVD when you’re not going to include subtitles too? Bah. Anyway, I have the five-disc Anchor Bay collection of assorted Argento, four of which I haven’t seen (and we’ll find out in due course if I’ve missed out on much), and one I have, namely this one, though that was long enough ago that I didn’t really remember much about it except the violence (particularly someone getting their arm chopped off and bleeding rather spectacularly everywhere). Obviously returning to straight giallo was a bit of a backwards step for Argento at this point, which Daria Nicolodi helpfully explains in the DVD extras as being due to Italian audiences not liking his last two horrors, but it seems to have worked… Story revolves around an author of horror novels confronted by a psycho killer using his latest book as a template for a murder spree, although (not for the first time, obviously) Argento complicates the identity of his killer. I see other reviews (e.g.) praising the film’s self-reflexivity, which opens up some interesting questions; if the woman who accuses the writer of producing sexist trash is meant to representing Argento acknowledging the sort of response he knows his film will provoke, what do we make of the fact that said woman is later revealed to be a lesbian who gets killed by the murderer for being a “deviant”, and that Argento’s own hands are apparently the ones we see wearing the killer’s standard black gloves? We’re not really defending ourselves very well, are we, Dario? More problematic, though, is that aforementioned complication of the killer’s identity, which just strikes me as a positively idiotic twist, and which makes Argento finally blow it in the last few minutes as he unleashes one last contrivance almost too silly to believe. It’s not a bad film (though it certainly has issues), so it’s a shame that the climax undermines it so badly…

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