Tenebre (1982)

An American writer in Rome is stalked by a serial killer bent on harassing him while killing all people associated with his work on his latest book.

    Tagline: Terror Beyond Belief / A Descent Into Madness / Unrelenting terror from the maker of DEMONS, CREEPERS and SUSPIRIA!

    AKA: Sotto gli occhi dell'assassino / Tinieblas (Argentina) / Ténèbres (France) / Tenebrae (UK) / Shadô (Japan) / Tenebrae, el placer del miedo (Mexico) / Bezumlje (Serbia)

  • Dario Argento

  • Dario Argento

Release Date: 1982-10-28

Dario Argento

Director/Writer/Narrator (Italian version) / Murderer's Hands (voice, uncredited)

Salvatore Argento

Executive producer

Luciano Tovoli


Franco Fraticelli

Film Editing

Piero Mecacci

Makeup Department

Pierantonio Mecacci

Makeup Department

Patrizia Corridoni

Makeup Department (key hair stylist)

Giovanni Corridori

Special Effects

Lamberto Bava

First assistant director/Elevator Repairman #1 (uncredited)

Michele Soavi

Second assistant director/Maria's Boyfriend / Man Walking with Girl on Beach (uncredited)

John Steiner

Christiano Berti

Veronica Lario

Jane McKerrow

Ania Pieroni

Elsa Manni

Eva Robins

Girl on Beach

Carola Stagnaro

Detective Altieri

Lara Wendel

Maria Alboretto

Giuliano Gemma

Detective Germani

Isabella Amadeo

Bullmer's secretary

Ennio Girolami

Department Store Manager

Fulvio Mingozzi

Alboretto, the porter
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  • Music
    If a spaceship would land in my backyard... No, wait... I don't have a backyard. If a spaceship would land on my roof garden and an alien would come out and ask me what music people listened to in the 80's and asked me to let him hear it, but that he only had time for one album - cruising the galaxy keeps you quite busy - which album would it be? It would have to be something that illustrates the 'sound' of the 80's and although there can never be one definitive album, some candidates do come to mind: Billy Idol's 'Rebel Yell', 'Wonderful' by Rick James, Asia's self-titled debut or even Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. These are all great albums, but I just might have to tell the alien that the most illustrative album from the 80's is a soundtrack by the name of 'Tenebre'.

    You don't often encounter an album which illustrates a time period that closely like in the case of 'Tenebre'. You also don't encounter an album very often on which all the tracks fall together like the pieces of a puzzle. It's even less often that you encounter a soundtrack album on which all the tracks compete for the title of main theme. You also don't encounter a release very often that knows how to make a mess of such a great soundtrack. As you can already tell, there's some criticism hanging in the air. Well, we'll just leave it there for a second, because just like in my review of 'Buio Omega', I'd like to start out with the original 8-track record that was released in 1982.

    'Almost perfect' are the words that come to mind when trying to capture the quality of this album in nothing more than a term. If there ever was a definition of the 80's, than this is what it sounds like. The album is a synthesis of every typical 80's production sound. From emphasised snare-afterbeats to symphonic keyboard rock, you'll get it all with this album and it never goes over the top and becomes embarassing. The album just keeps rocking from beginning to end, only making brief stops at records like 'Slow circus' or 'Jane mirror theme'. Yet, those brief moments of tranquility are a nice break from all the pop violence on this album and offer the necessary variation. The records are very nicely balanced as well. If there's a record coming up with some action in it, the album doesn't just jump from one record to the other, but slowly builds up the tension. This album really forms a whole like I haven't seen before on a soundtrack album.

    Which brings me to one of the problems for this review. I find it almost impossible to talk about the records as seperate pieces, because they all just work together so perfectly. I will indeed admit that there's some very striking differences to be heard between a record like 'Gemini', with it's cool, yet suspenseful atmosphere or something more friendly-sounding like 'Lesbo' (which is probably the most illustrative record of them all). Yet, it's the similarities which make this album work. One record is indeed more groovy, mellow or just plain rocking than another, but it's how all these records work together and form an album that really makes it work. You see, when I try to concentrate on the differences between a record like the main theme and 'Flashing', I could tell you how the melodies differ from eachother when it comes to the instruments that were used or the atmosphere that's in the music, but I wouldn't come any further than some trivial, minor differences. Which is exactly the pace at which the music and atmosphere develop on this album: slowly, with small steps at a time and that's exactly the beauty of it.

    Having established the way of looking at the album, which is indeed as an album, instead of a collection of seperate records, I will move on to my only piece of criticism on the original 8-track record. The album resolves around variations on the main theme too much. It is a complaint I already mentioned in my review of 'Buio Omega' (although that album didn't suffer from this). The build-up on this album is great. It really is like a musical journey. It has busy moments, quiet moments, rhythmic moments etc. I can even understand moving back to the main theme at some point on the album, but I would have liked it if the reprise would have been the only moment during which this happens.
    For two reasons.
    First of all, because the reprise differs enough from the original main theme to keep it interesting enough to listen to. Secondly, because, like I already mentioned, all the records on this album could be a main theme. They certainly are melodic or 'catchy' enough to function as a recognisable base for the soundtrack. Yet, the main theme is pushed to the foreground, creating a hierarchy within the records, which I consider a bad thing with an album that is such a 'whole', instead of a 'collection'.

    The cd-release by Cinevox comes with plenty of extras. So much extras in fact, that there's even a division between extra records and bonus tracks. The extra records are mainly composed out of film versions, but most of them are so short that they make this wonderful album irritatingly fragmentaric. Yes, once again Cinevox presents us an album which ruïns the terrific 8-track original with superfluous material. The extra records do no add anything, they sound almost exactly the same and are too short to hold your attention and - most important of all - destroy the album structure with their fragmentaric approach.

    Luckily, the three bonus tracks save the album a little bit, even though I still find it a stupid idea to put a sound effect on a MUSIC album. You wouldn't listen to a sound effects cd for your own pleasure either, would you? Oh well, the Tenebre maniac breathing heavily from right to left at least makes for a nice transition from the original soundtrack to the bonus tracks (considering you're going to skip the extra records like a good little horror fan). Although the two remixes of the main theme and 'Flashing' don't differ very much from the originals either, they are just a bit more grooy than the original and make nice tunes to turn up loud. At least these are just two solid records, in stead of all the bits and pieces we get on the extra records.

    Although I stated last time (in the 'Buio Omega' review) that I wouldn't give an album such a positive review anymore when it would mess up the cd-space with useless extras, I think that this album is just too important as an artifact of our culture and therefore cannot be missed. With or without skipping some records.

    Published Full Review