Four Flies on Grey Velvet/Review

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< Four Flies on Grey Velvet
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A potent blend of funky music, freaky murders, and inspired camera gymnastics, Dario Argento’s third feature is extremely impressive, mirroring the quality of the rest of his giallo résumé. Particularly astonishing is Franco Di Giacomo’s camera work, which meticulously follows phone cords, tracks around open spaces, and squeezes through tight crevices. With “Grade-A” cinematography, Argento’s direction, and Ennio Morricone’s hypnotic score, murder and terror become epic and profound, and ultimately, violent death becomes an act of beauty.

From moment one, Four Flies on Grey Velvet is total sensory overload. While a drummer pounds away at his kit, images of a beating heart and pulsating rock-fusion seer the eyes and ears. This overwhelming sense of awareness continues as our protagonist and drum virtuoso, Roberto, tracks down a mysterious figure that stalks him in the night.

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As the trench-coat draped stalker slips quietly into an ornate theater, Roberto follows, not knowing what lay before him. It would be mere moments before he uses his attacker's weapon against him, mistakenly killing the man, and sending his lifeless body into the orchestral pit below. Perched above like a bird of prey, a man wearing an eerie, pale, and smirking mask photographs the incident, apparently as a means to blackmail the innocent Roberto. This nefarious character will haunt our protagonist day and night, leaving photos of the murder around his home, and physically threatening him under the cover of nightfall.

Similar to The Bird With The Crystal Plumage in tone and construction, Four Flies features quite a few inspired scenes of its own. One particularly striking moment comes when Roberto's cousin-in-law (whom he had just slept with, mind you) is being chased by the masked man, and foolishly stumbles down a flight of stairs. The camera hangs over her head as it hits each step, sliding gracefully down the stairs with her body. As she hits the last step, a knife floats down after her, landing into her chest. We are also treated to a claustrophobic chase through an empty public park, as Roberto's maid tries to pull the slip on the soft-spoken slasher, and falls victim to his sharp and slender blade.

Although some plot details become sketchy in the concluding moments (the whole "last image seen by a victim is retained on the eyes" bit is a huge stretch), the conclusion is quite satisfactory and totally unexpected. The comedic elements even work well, making this a diverse and wholly original giallo effort that is a must see for all exploitation buffs.

Reviewed by Mdeapo

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