31 Days Of Horror: Tenebrae

When it was initially released, Dario Argento’s Tenebrae(1982) suffered severe editing in the U.S. In fact 10 minutes were cut from the film and it was retitled Unsane. It didn’t fair any better in the U.K. were it was labelled one of the 39 “Video Nasties” and banned in the U.K. from 1984 to 1999 where it was released in a slightly censored form. Even the original movie poster was censored with a bow covering the throat slice. It wasn’t released in the U.K. uncut until 2003. To this day it is still banned in Germany.

The film follows an American horror writer named Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) who is in Italy to promote his latest book. As soon as he arrives a series of murders begin taking place mimicking Neal’s latest book Tenebrae. The killer writes to Neal explaining that he’s inspired the killer.

The movie moves forward showcasing several murders with Argento’s stylistic camera work. The film features some very cool camera shots including a two and half minute crane shot that leads to a gruesome murder. About half through the film, Neal and his assistant believe they have discovered the killer. Then things get a little twisted.

Dario Argento started off in the 1970’s directing several classic Italian giallo films The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971), Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) and Deep Red (1975). By the late 1970’s, Argento started making more supernatural films like Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), the first two parts of his Three Mothers Trilogy. While Suspiria was a huge hit, Inferno fared worse, getting only a limited release and panned by critics. Argento needed Tenebrae to be a hit, but with all the censorship, it really didn’t get a fair shake until many years later when it had a revival after it was released on home video uncut.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka has spent most of his life watching movies and reading comic books. He has decided to use this vast knowledge for evil instead of good.