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Tenebrae: My First Taste of Italian Horror (Blu-ray Review)

Available now from Synapse Films!
Available now from Synapse Films!

I’ve been a horror fan for about 13 or 14 years. Throughout those years I’ve heard Italian horror and Giallo films discussed immensely. I’d hear names such as Bava, Fulci, and Argento spoken by writers and directors that I enjoyed. This genre of film was always something I wanted to check out but never got around to. That was until this past week. I received a copy of Tenebrae; written and directed by Dario Argento with music by the original incarnation of Goblin. Before I get in depth I want honestly say that this film may have honestly changed my life…….I will be searching out movies like this for years to come.

Tenebrae is about an American author by the name Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa). He’s come to Italy to promote his newest work, Tenebrae. The problem is the people around him are dropping like flies and the killings are happening in the same style as they are written about in his book. With the help of his assistants Anne (Daria Nicolodi) and Gianni (Christian Borromeo), Peter is, both, on the lookout for this razor-wielding killer and trying to make it out of Rome alive!

Don’t get me wrong, this sounds like the worst summary that could be written…….but you need to experience this film for yourself! It’s cliché to refer to a film as a cinematic rollercoaster, however, I cannot think of a better term to describe it. Tenebrae pulls you in from the first scene and doesn’t let you go until the final credits. The final conclusion was equal parts “off the wall” and brilliant. It’s also a twist that makes sense when thought about. I don’t want to get into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil the film for viewers like me, but, this is film I’m going to be thinking about for a long time.

For some reason I went in expecting a sleezy, poorly acted “hokefest”, and I stand 100% corrected. Notable performance goes to John Saxon of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame. Every time this man was on the screen he stole the scene. He was absolutely perfect as Peter Neal’s agent/best friend Bulmer.


Enough about the movie, what about this release? Once again, Synapse Films crushes it! The film looks incredible as it is a new restoration and color correction of a 1080p scan from the original camera negative. This film looked phenomenal. Extras include the full length documentary, Yellow Fever: The Rise and Fall of the Giallo. As soon as the film ended I dug into this documentary and my mind was blown. There are so many films I need to check out and explore in this unique genre, and I can’t wait! Also included is a very informative audio commentary by Argento scholar, Maitland McDonagh. The commentary included a bunch of tidbits of information and analyzation of the film. I can’t recommend giving it a listen enough. Also included are alternative opening and closing credit sequences, as well as theatrical trailers.

Synapse packs this single disc edition to the brim with special features. For those that weren’t able to grab a steelbook edition, like myself, this is an essential pick up. It is more than worth your money and a great introduction to Dario Argento. I can’t wait to go out and explore this genre further. If you want to pick up this release for yourself the DVD edition is available through Synapse directly and the single disc bluray can be ordered through Amazon.