110 minutes, Italy
As part of our Same Same but Different program, you can also watch Knife + Heart (2018) in Drijvend Paviljoen for the Giallo Psychos special.
Giallo – yellow – derives from the bright yellow colour of early 60s mystery paperbacks. Although definitions of the cinematic genre vary, it is often referred to as an Italian crime film genre with murder mystery elements. Further references are: knives, investigation, sensuality, erotism and a notorious soundscore. As all of these elements are heavily represented in Knife + Heart (2018) we have picked out one of the best Giallo films we could find: Tenebrae (1982) by Dario Argente. Both focussing on a psycho serial killer with a big knife, incredibly styled and guided by an amazing score, these films have a lot in common.
Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa), a famous writer of horror novels, goes to Rome to promote his latest work, Tenebrae. Upon his arrival in the hotel, he is questioned by two detectives: a young woman was found brutally murdered with a knife, her mouth stuffed with pages from his new novel.
During the questioning, Neil receives an anonymous letter of the killer and the detectives predict more murders to occur soon. They are right. One by one, Neal’s acquaintances start dying the most horrible, painful and bloody deaths…
Tenebrae is generally not considered as Dario Argento’s most known work, but it is definitely a favorite amongst his true fans and cinephiles. Cruel and dark as it is, some would even argue it is the finest film he ever made.
Upon the films release in 1982, either heavily censored versions came out or the film was rated VM18 for its graphic violence. In Italy this was mostly because the film contains female homosexual scenes and in the conservative country, this was too controversial.
Notable as well are the mysterious dream-sequences, in which transgender actress Eva Robin appears as a woman on the beach who violently attacks a man after he slapped her in the face.
Ronald Simons is a film programmer at Eye Filmmuseum, editor in chief of The Cult Corner and writes as a freelance film reviewer for Preview Magazine and Schokkend Nieuws. Amongst his favourite films are Black Swan (2010), Funny Games (1997), Clockwork Orange (1971), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Holy Motors (2012).
At Roffa Mon Amour he will talk about Giallo and Dario Argento. Together with Martin Koolhoven he invited Dario Argento in The Netherlands in 2017 for the 4K restoration of Suspiria (1977).