Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

Four Flies on Grey Velvet [4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio] (1971)

Starring Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Bud Spencer, Francine Racette, Calisto Calisti, Marisa Fabbri, Fabrizio Moroni, Oreste Lionello, Aldo Bufo Landi

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: Low, I’ve heard this one is bad, but there’s also a lot of “it’s not so bad” reviews out there.


I’ve been putting this one off for a while, and after watching it, now I know why. Sometimes you just get a feeling about something. Simply put, Four Flies on Grey Velvet is fucking boring. It is a suspense film with virtually no suspense, which as we all know, is a complete waste of time. I simply can’t imagine anyone finding this film very interesting, but a quick glance at the IMDB user reviews shows me otherwise. Whatever floats your boat.

Roberto is a musician in a rockin’ band, but he’s being stalked by the classic Giallo baddie, a strange dude in a trench coat and dark glasses. Roberto turns the tables and stalks the stalker into an opera house, where the dude pulls a knife and a scuffle ensues. The musician leaves a murderer, but not before someone wearing a baby mask in the balcony takes a few scandalous photographs and runs off. Now the hunted-turned-hunter Roberto becomes the prey once again as he finds himself in a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse with this mysterious photographer. The game is afoot.

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Deep Red (1975)

Deep Red [Profondo Rosso] (1975)

Starring David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra, Glauco Mauri, Clara Calamai, Piero Mazzinghi

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: Moderate. After The Cat o’ Nine Tails, I am cautious but optomistic.


 

I’m starting to think that if you’ve seen one Argento film, you’ve seen them all. Deep Red may be regarded as one of the best Italian horror films of all time, but for my money, it was just a long-winded, lesser version of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. I’m also beginning to think that because these films are so similar, I’d have a much better reaction to them if I wasn’t watching them in such a short space of time. I’m hoping that the last Argento film for October breaks the cycle a bit, but so far each of the three Argento movies I’ve watched have been very similar. I skipped ahead a couple of movies so that I could get to the big guns of Argento’s filmography. I was also hoping for some sort of maturing to have taken place, but surprisingly Deep Red has a lot more in common with The Cat o’ Nine Tails than I would have thought with all the negative press that movie gets.

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The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971)

The Cat o’ Nine Tails  [Il gatto a nove code] (1971)

Starring James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Horst Frank, Aldo Reggiani, Carlo Alighiero, Rada Rassimov, Tom Felleghy, Emilio Marchesini, Ugo Fangareggi

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: High. I’m pumped after watching his début. I hope this is good.


Hot off the tails of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Dario Argento concocts another horror mystery thriller to get you on the edge of your seat. That was the intention anyway. Unfortunately, The Cat o’ Nine Tails is a step back in every way, and ends up being a much less satisfying film for it. That’s not to say that it’s horrible though, it’s definitely something worth sitting down with. Just don’t expect to be enthralled every minute. The film has a bad rap with fans, critics and even Dario Argento himself, who has called it his least favorite of his films. I honestly feel that the hate is a bit misguided, as this really isn’t all that bad of a movie.

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The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage [L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo] (1970)

Starring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano, Giuseppe Castellano, Mario Adorf, Pino Patti, Gildo Di Marco

Directed by Dario Argento

Expectations: Moderate.


The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is the directorial début from Italian horror legend, Dario Argento. Prior to watching this I had only a limited experience with his films, mostly from  catching short glimpses of scenes in Top 100 Horror countdowns. I did see his 1982 film, Tenebre, in its entirety about ten years ago, but at the time I was unimpressed with just about everything about it. I may enjoy it more if I saw it again but as it stands now, the only thing I really remember about it was the incredible score composed by Italian prog-rockers Goblin. Easily one of my all time favorite film scores. Despite being less than impressed by the film, Tenebre intrigued the hell out of me and made want to watch some of Argento’s other films. It only took me ten years but I’m finally making good on that wish, and the wait has paid off. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a stunningly shot film, filled to the brim with unforgettable imagery and suspense. It definitely is a flawed film overall, but it still packs a pretty sizable punch and I am happy to report that my decision to review four Argento films over the course of October seems like it will be a good one.

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