Tenebrae (1982)

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Released 21-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Dario Argento (Director), Claudio Simonetti (Composer) et al
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi (36:48)
Featurette-An Eye For Horror (56:48)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Camera Equipment
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Sound FX
Alternative Version-credits (2:15)
Theatrical Trailer-(2)
Trailer-Deep Red; Phenomena; The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
Trailer-Tenebrae; The Cat O' Nine Tails
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 96:24 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (85:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dario Argento

Madman Entertainment
Starring 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
Isabella Amadeo
Case ?
RPI ? Music Goblin
Massimo Morante
Fabio Pignatelli

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    New York novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosca) is on the circuit promoting his new literary masterpiece, Tenebrae, a murderous tale that has the media in a frenzy. When he arrives in Rome to attend to media engagements, a killer begins a series of murders that mimic his popular novel. Because he is in town, the police question him and ask for his assistance, along with his secretary Anne (Daria Nicolodi). It soon becomes apparent that the killer is a fan of Neal, as letters begin appearing under his door together with bizarre phone calls. The frequency and intensity of the harassment increases, as does the killing, until Peter has a revelation and decides to confront the murderer himself.

    Tenebrae has all the trademarks of an Argento classic: a twisted, mysterious plot, a soundtrack score comprised of electronic, Goblin-like warblings, and many shots of the killer's gloved hands in action. The violence is particularly bloody and there are plenty of shocks along the way, however this is not quite up to the standard he set in classics such as Suspiria, Deep Red or Opera.

    I was surprised to learn that the role of Peter Neal was originally written for Christopher Walken, however this was changed when Argento deemed him too young for the part. Such a convincing lead in this film might have been very interesting, but Franciosca does an admirable job all the same.

    Tenebrae is a decent thriller for fans of Argento's work, but others may be better off starting with one of his more accessible films.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer appears to be an NTSC conversion.

    The film has been transferred to DVD in a cropped aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This relatively close to the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect.

    The image is not particularly sharp. Shadow detail is average and black levels are relatively solid.

    Most colours are handled adequately. I didn't note any dire issues such as bleeding or oversaturation.

    MPEG compression artefacts amount to grain and the odd moment of blocking. Film artefacts are also common, but they are not a serious issue. There are a few spots and scratches on the source print, but nothing too annoying.

    There are no subtitles.

    This disc is dual layered, with the layer transition placed during the feature at 85:18. This position does interrupt the soundtrack score a little.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The only soundtrack included is English Dolby Digital 2.0, encoded at a rather flimsy 192Kb/s. The cast clearly perform in a mixture of both Italian and English language, but the performances have all been re-recorded in English.

    The dialogue varies in quality, but is generally stable. I noted a number of moments of mild distortion in the dialogue, but these are few. The ADR quality is pretty rough, I'm afraid. Some scenes appear to be synced relatively well, while others are terrible.

    I attempted to process the audio with Pro Logic II enabled, and found some dedicated use of the rear channels. Some scenes direct a mild amount of the score to the rears, while at 61:53 there is a clear foley effect of breaking glass.

    The score is by Claudio Simonetti and other former members of progressive rock group Goblin. The score is highly memorable, however it doesn't quite match the magic of Suspiria or Deep Red.

    There was no subwoofer usage that I could discern.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu system is static, silent and 16x9 enhanced.

Feature Commentary - Dario Argento (Director), Claudio Simonetti (Composer) & Loris Curci (Journalist)

    This is another informative commentary, made all the better by Loris, who acts as mediator. Comparisons are made with the Italian version as well as cuts that were applied to the film during its theatrical run. Simonetti is introduced about ten minutes into the commentary, and explains the demise of Goblin and the legalities of their split. They seem to have experimented quite a bit while recording the score, as well as deciding to use drum programming for the first time.

Interview - Dario Argento (Writer/ Director) & Daria Nicolodi (Actress) (36:48)

    A rare English interview with the couple, hosted by a virtually unrecognisable Richard Frayling. This piece was recorded for television while the pair were promoting Tenebrae. Dario discusses his early career, while Daria explains her love of theatre. Suspiria is also analysed a great deal, from casting to the specific film stock he uses. After discussing advances in camera technology, he explains his work with composers such as Moriccone and Simonetti. This is a detailed and informative interview.

Documentary - Dario Argento - An Eye For Horror (56:48)

    This is a well made documentary, following the life and career of Argento from his childhood, through his work as a movie critic and into his early work in the industry as a script writer for Sergio Leoni. Each of his major feature films are touched upon, as well as a number of his more obscure projects and collaborations. An array of recognisable celebrities lend themselves to this biography, including filmmakers John Carpenter and George Romero, actor Michael Brandon, Argento's ex-wife and former muse Daria Nicolodi, actress Jessica Harper and horror fan Alice Cooper. Members of his family also offer their thoughts on his visual style, enduring popularity and work ethic, most notably his brother Claudio and daughters Asia and Fiore. This doco is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 but is unfortunately not 16x9 enhanced.

Behind The Scenes Featurettes (2)

    There are two short featurettes, each covering different aspects of the production.

Alternate Credits (2:15)

    During the commentary, Argento and Simonetti react to a pop song that had been inserted into the credit sequence without their knowledge. Because the film presented on this disc is the restored version, this short piece shows the credits in their altered form. The song is hideous.

Theatrical Trailer (3:14)

    This is a typical trailer of the period that gives away a little of the plot of the film, but focuses more on the shocking imagery contained therein.

Argento Trailers (5)

    In addition to the aforementioned Tenebrae, trailers here include Deep Red, Phenomena, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage and The Cat O' Nine Tails.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 Anchor Bay disc (100:24, NTSC) includes the following additional features:

    Since this title has been released in many territories, the range of extras included vary greatly.


    Tenebrae is a good thriller, but not Argento's best.

    The video transfer is not the fully uncut version, but it's only missing brief shots.

    The audio transfer is thin, but does the job.

    The extras are informative.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
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NTSC Transfer? -