Nine Nights of Argento #3 – Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

four-flies-on-grey-velvetI will be watching Dario Argento’s first nine films (not counting The Five Days, which is currently unavailable in the US), from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage to Opera.

three-stars15Poor Roberto. All he wants is to jam with his far-out rock band, fool around with his wife’s sister, and hang out with his death-obsessed friends at swinging parties. Instead, he gets pulled into a wildly convoluted blackmail/torture/revenge scheme conducted by a masked psycho with a grudge.

Four Flies on Grey Velvet pretty much typifies Argento for me, as it’s the same basic formula as everything I’ve seen so far: a hunt for an unknown murderer is peppered with elaborate kill scenes, whacky side-characters, and lots of lounging around, all leading up to the “unmasking” of the killer, which always involves a long, creaky explanation to provide some kind of motive. This time out, there’s just enough innovation and new gags brought to the table to make it worth a watch.

By this point in my Argento marathon, I’m pretty comfortable with the idea that his stories are not set in our world. Time and space are bent to accommodate the unknown killer’s nonsensical agenda at every turn. At one point in the film, a character sets up an appointment in a safe location: a crowded public park at mid-day. In a matter of seconds, everyone disappears from the park, the front gate gets locked by security, and the sky turns black, as if the killer himself is turning the knobs on a weather machine to set the stage for the kill.

As always, there are loads of comic relief, including: a scripture-quoting idiot savant; a flamboyantly gay private eye who has never solved a case; a mentally challenged mailman; a vagabond named God; and a wild scene at a coffin expo.

Next up: DEEP RED


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Categories: Dario Argento, Director Spotlight, Features, Reviews

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