Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Tenebrae – Arrow Video (4k UHD/Blu-ray Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1982
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento
Cast: Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D’Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Eva Robins, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Giuliano Gemma, Mirella Banti, Ippolita Santarelli

Release Date: July 18th, 2022 (UK)
Approximate Running Times: 101 Minutes 3 Seconds (Original Version English Language), 101 Minutes 2 Seconds (Original Version Italian Language), 90 Minutes 22 Seconds (Tenebrae “Unsane” Version )
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / Dolby Vision HDR10 (Both Versions)
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English (Tenebrae original version), DTS-HD Mono English (Tenebrae “Unsane” version)
Subtitles: English, English SDH (Tenebrae original version), English SDH (Tenebrae “Unsane” version)
Region Coding: Region Free (4K UHD)/Region Free (Blu-ray)
Retail Price: £39.99 (UK

"A razor-wielding psychopath is stalking the thriller writer Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa, Death Wish II), in Rome to promote his latest work, Tenebrae. But the author isn’t the obsessive killer’s only target: the beautiful women who surround him are doomed as, one by one, they fall victim to the murderer’s slashing blade." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5 (Tenebrae 4K UHD, Unsane 4K UHD), 4.75/5 (Tenebrae Blu-ray)

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, “The original 35mm camera negative elements were scanned and restored in 4K resolution at L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna. The film was conformed and graded in 4K HDR/Dolby Vision at Silver Salt Restoration.

The title sections for Unsane were scanned from a 35mm print in 4K resolution at AGFA and restored and graded in 4K HDR/Dolby Vision at Silver Salt Restoration.

All original materials for Tenebrae were supplied by Intramovies.”

Tenebrae original version comes on a 100 GB triple layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 85.5 GB

Feature: 72.6 GB

This new restoration of Tenebrae is easily the best this film has ever looked on home video. Where previous releases ranged from good to great, they never had access to the original camera negative, which was used for this transfer. And the result is a stunning revelation that feels like watching Tenebrae for the first time. That said, color saturation, image clarity, contrast, shadow detail, and compression are all solid, and grain always looks organic.

Tenebrae “Unsane” version comes on a 66 GB dual layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 58.5 GB

Feature: 58 GB

Outside of the title sections, the source used for Unsane is the same source used for Tenebrae. 

Tenebrae original version comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40 GB

Feature: 29.5 GB

The Blu-ray also looks excellent.

Audio: 5/5 (DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English Tenebrae original version, DTS-HD Mono English Unsane newly created track), 4.75/5 (DTS-HD Mono English Unsane original theatrical experience)

Tenebrae's original version comes with two audio options: a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Included with this version are two subtitle options: removable English for the Italian language track and removable English SDH for the English language track.

Both of these audio tracks are in excellent shape, and fidelity-wise, the differences are minimal. Dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, ambient sounds are well-represented, and these tracks sound robust when they should.

That said, there have been reports online that some viewers spotted moments where the English language track was slightly out of sync. I did not notice any such issues. In fact, I thought to myself while watching the English language track how great of a job they did at matching voices.

Unsane comes with two audio options; both are a DTS-HD mono mix in English, and this version comes with removable English SDH subtitles. Here’s information about the two audio mixes, "a recreation of the original theatrical experience, complete with jump cuts and sudden audio shifts, and a new, more seamless edit created for this release, both in restored lossless English mono."

Both of these two audio mixes sound clean, clear, balanced, and robust when they should. Though the audio track that recreates the original theatrical experience is great for nostalgia, it is not as strong as the newly created track.

Extras:

Extras on the 4K UHD with the original version of Tenebrae include Italian promotional materials (9 images), German promotional materials (38 images), Spanish promotional materials (8 images), Japanese promotional materials (16 images), US promotional materials (3 images), miscellaneous images (9 images), International theatrical trailer (3 minutes 14 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Japanese theatrical trailer (2 minutes 9 seconds, LPCM mono Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival introduction by actress Daria Nicolodi (13 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival featurette containing interviews with screenwriter/director Dario Argento, actresses Daria Nicolodi and Eva Robins, cinematographer Luciano Tovoli, composer Claudio Simonetti and assistant director Lamberto Bava titled Voices of the Unsane (17 minutes 16 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Maitland McDonagh, author of Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento titled Out of the Shadows (12 minutes 20 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actress Daria Nicolodi titled Screaming Queen (16 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with screenwriter/director Dario Argento titled The Unsane World of Tenebrae (15 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with composer Claudio Simonetti titled A Composition for Carnage (10 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), “Unsane” end credits sequence (1 minute 51 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), alternate opening credits sequence (2 minute 14 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actor John Steiner titled Being the Villain (16 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a feature-length documentary charting the genre from its beginnings to its influence on the modern slasher film titled Yellow Fever: The Rise and Fall of the Giallo (89 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English and Italian with non-removable English subtitles for Italian), an audio commentary with authors and film critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman, an audio commentary with Dario Argento expert Thomas Rostock, and an audio commentary with Maitland McDonagh, author of Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento titled Out of the Shadows.

Extras on the 4K UHD with the “Unsane” version of Tenebrae include original Take Me Tonight stereo EP recording, performed by Kim Wilde (3 minutes 51 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles).

Extras on the Blu-ray disc include Italian promotional materials (9 images), German promotional materials (38 images), Spanish promotional materials (8 images), Japanese promotional materials (16 images), US promotional materials (3 images), miscellaneous images (9 images), International theatrical trailer (3 minutes 14 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), Japanese theatrical trailer (2 minutes 9 seconds, LPCM mono Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival introduction by Daria Nicolodi (13 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival featurette containing interviews with Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi and Eva Robins, Luciano Tovoli, Claudio Simonetti and Lamberto Bava titled Voices of the Unsane (17 minutes 16 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Maitland McDonagh titled Out of the Shadows (12 minutes 20 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with Daria Nicolodi titled Screaming Queen (16 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Dario Argento titled The Unsane World of Tenebrae (15 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles), an archival interview with Claudio Simonetti titled A Composition for Carnage (10 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), “Unsane” end credits sequence (1 minute 51 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), alternate opening credits sequence (2 minute 14 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with John Steiner titled Being the Villain (16 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a feature-length documentary charting the genre from its beginnings to its influence on the modern slasher film titled Yellow Fever: The Rise and Fall of the Giallo (89 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English and Italian with non-removable English subtitles for Italian), an audio commentary with Alan Jones and Kim Newman, an audio commentary with Thomas Rostock, and an audio commentary with Maitland McDonagh.

Other extras include reversible cover art, a fold out double sided poster, six double sided, postcard sized lobby card reproduction artcards and a sixty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled An Appreciation of Tenebrae written by Peter Strickland, an essay titled Giallo Perfection written by Alan Jones, an essay titled Lights! Camera! Human Perversion! written by Ashley Lane, Luciano Tovoli interviewed by Daniel Bird, and information about the restoration.

Summary:

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Throughout his career, there have been several occasions where Dario Argento has ventured away from the giallo genre. Most notably, his one-two punch of supernatural themed horror films, Suspiria and Inferno. In 1982, exhausted from the experience of making Inferno, he would step away from what was to be the conclusion of the ‘Three Mother’s’ trilogy and return once again to the genre of the giallo genre with Tenebrae (a Latin/Italian term which means darkness or shadows).

Reportedly, one of the inspirations behind Tenebrae was a real-life stalker that Dario Argento encountered while working on a proposed film in Los Angeles in the early 1980’s. Two other notable inspirations include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s "Sherlock Holmes" and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes.

When I first encountered Tenebrae, I was not that impressed with the film. Years later and after many subsequent viewings, I have come to the conclusion that first impressions are not always to be trusted. If ever there was a film that demanded multiple viewings, it would be Tenebrae.

From a narrative standpoint, Tenebrae does not stray too far away from the blueprint that Dario Argento established with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. And just like Deep Red, one of Dario Argento’s most revered films, Tenebrae uses flashbacks and memories from the killers’ point of view. And while red herrings are one of the most important plot devices in any giallo, no Dario Argento film before or since has ever piled on as much misdirection as Tenebrae does.

From a visual standpoint, there is rarely a moment in which this film does not artfully flaunt its acrobatic camerawork and intricately laid out compositions. A few of the more memorable moments include a young girl who is being terrorized by a ferocious dog and somehow ends up at a killer’s lair. A 2 1/2 minute crane shot that ends with a pair of brutal killings; the first one, a woman whose t-shirt is sliced by a razor before her throat gets sliced; the other, her lesbian lover, who is chased around before finally having her own jugular sliced, then her head crashes through a window. And let’s not forget the blood-soaked finale that includes a woman’s arm being severed and the blood spraying from her severed limb across the wall.

One area where many of Dario Argento's films fall short is his cast and their performances. Headlining this cast in the role of this film’s protagonist, a bestselling novelist named Peter Neal, is Anthony Franciosa (Hatful of Rain). He gives a well-rounded performance that stands out as one of the strongest to ever grace a Dario Argento film. Reportedly, one of the actors being considered for the role of Peter Neal was Christopher Walken. The supporting cast features many recognizable faces, like John Saxon (Enter the Dragon) in the role of a sleazy agent, Giuliano Gemma (Day of Anger) in the role of the lead detective assigned to the murders, John Steiner (Salon Kitty) in the role of a neurotic television personality, Lara Wendel (Satan’s Wife) in the role of the young girl who is terrorized by a dog, and Daria Nicolodi (Deep Red) in the role of Peter Neal’s assistant. And, while the majority of the cast are excellent in their roles, this film’s most underwhelming performance comes from Daria Nicolodi, who was reluctantly cast in the role that she ultimately ended up with. The most surprising performance comes from an actress named Veronica Lario, who has been cast in the role of Peter Neal’s girlfriend, Jane. Though this role does not have much dialog and is limited to a few key scenes, it is by far and away the most memorable character that appears in this film. It should not come as a surprise that this is the role that Daria Nicolodi wanted to portray. At least she gets the final scream.

Synapse Films' Tenebrae 4K UHD release is identical to Arrow Video’s 4K UHD except for their outer packing. Synapse Films’ release comes with a slipcover case, while Arrow Video’s comes with a chipboard slipcase.

It should be noted that though the Blu-ray disc is listed as region B, it is actually region free.

Tenebrae gets an exceptional 4K UHD upgrade from Arrow Video, highly recommended.

                                                        4K UHD screenshots.





















  Written by Michael Den Boer                                                                                                                     

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