Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 309: Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) - Rank 3.5/5


This was long considered one of Dario Argento's "lost works" due to limited availability. When it was finally released in 2009, I looked forward to catching the early work by the Italian gore auteur. Sadly, I suppose it could be said that the film was lost for a reason - it's not the director's best. Argento films are trademarked by their surreal visuals and their bizarre (and sometimes near implausible) death scenes. The story often feels incidental, but if the script syncs up well with the body count, the films work really well. If not, they come off as rather sloppy, and I would say that this film falls into the latter category.

Our staple American actor is Michael Brandon. If you find yourself asking "Who?" you're not alone. A quick search of his Imdb resume yields no other titles of his that I'm familiar with. To be blunt, his performance as Roberto, the rock star, is not as indispensable as the performances of other Argento alum, like David Hemmings, Karl Malden or Jessica Harper. Anyway, Roberto finds himself being persistently trailed by a stalker for days and when he confronts the man, he's put in a position where he's forced to kill the man. He looks up after stabbing the sorry sot and witnesses a mysterious individual in a creepy mask photographing him. From here the blackmail, cat-and-mouse hijinks that are characteristic of many giallo films ensues, with the predictable domino effect of characters dying the millisecond they figure out the plot. I'm not sure how they manage to do it either, because when the murderer's identity is revealed at the end, it's the most patently absurd conclusion the film could have reached. It's still mindless fun for Argento fans, but unlike it's brethren in Argento's animal/giallo trilogy ("The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" and "Cat O' Nine Tails") is wouldn't fall into my top five (which would be rounded out by "Suspiria," "Deep Red," and "Opera"). One final note - I want one of these masks...

Watch the Trailer

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