4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio (1971) AKA Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Probably the most sought after Dario Argento film and the final chapter in what has been dubbed his “Animal Trilogy”. Beginning the nickname “The Italian Hitchcock”. Starting with “Bird with the Crystal Plumage” and then “Cat ‘O Nine Tales”. Finally it gets a proper release which includes the 40 seconds missing from a lot of previous releases which were mostly grainy bootlegs. This is considered his lost film.
What I’m reviewing is the 40th Anniversary Edition released by Shameless on Blu-Ray. The regular DVD of this version is a UK Import so it won’t play on American DVD players unless you have a PAL/NTSC converter but even though this is a UK release, because it is “All Region” Blu-Ray it will play in American Blu-Ray players. The picture is, in my opinion stunning and so is the sound. You will however notice the difference between the extra scenes that were added due to loss of quality in those scenes. There is a few other options. Amazon.com has an NTSC release but I cannot speak of the quality or if it is really uncut for I have not seen it.
Michael Brandon plays the protagonist Roberto Tobias and Mimsy Farmer (you might recognize her from Autopsy ‘1975′ and Il profumo della signora in nero‘1974′) plays his wife Nina Tobias. Roberto is a rock musician , a drummer and some strange man is following him. One day he confronts this man and accidentally kills him with this mans own knife. From then on things really start to go down hill. Someone is taunting him with photographs and threats. For there was some stranger in a mask taking photos. Is the man really dead? Is it a set-up?
Luigi Cozzi who was a co-writer said that this film really wanted to add a little cinema fanstique to it so they devised a plot turner which is how the film got its title. It is said that the last image a person sees remains in their retina for awhile so they contacted one of my favorite special effects men Carlo Rambaldi who was to create a laser contraption that would give the effect that would allow us to see the remaining image on the victims retina (Of course this is impossible in real life). When they used this laser what they saw were four flies.
He hires a private investigator who of course meets his end as does a number of other people. One thing I will say is that this film is riddled with interesting characters including Bud Spencer as Godfrey ‘God’, Roberto’s friend and confidant. There isn’t a whole lot of blood like his previous films in the trilogy but there is definitely some impressive camera work and visual narrative. One of the more interesting things is a repeating dream that Roberto keeps having. Someone at a party brought up something about executions. From then on Roberto has these dreams about a man being ceremonially decapitated by a man with a sword. Each time he has this dream it gets more and more explicit. Until finally we see the man decapitated.
Things escalate when Roberto discovers that the man he killed isn’t really dead, it was a set up. While talking to Nina and notices her necklace and what he sees is a fly. What happens next is a paranoid and violent frenzy on the part of Nina as we discover the truth behind her madness and her marriage. She was born a girl but her father always wanted a boy so he dressed her up as boy(Giving reason for tom boyishness). She chose Roberto to marry and seek revenge because he reminded her of her father. She , in a delirium, shoots Roberto, not fatally, and tries to escape leading to one of the interesting deaths in any cannon.
She gets in her car and gets crushed by a truck in front of her in slow motion resulting in her decapitation. They (the crew) worked very hard to get the effect to work. Finding the right camera. Finally they found the right camera but what they didn’t realize is that the camera was designed for black and white film and they were using colour so they had a few miss-steps. But they got it and I think it’s awesome.
All in all, it is not his best work and my least favorite of his “Animal Trilogy” but the score by veteran composer Ennio Morricone is strong. I would call it (in comparison to his other work) a middle of the road thriller but still effective. Not as strong as say Profondo Rosso (1975) but definitely worth seeing. And on this Blu-Ray it has never looked or sounded better.
Extras include an exclusive interview with writer and assistant Luigi Cozzi, restored film rebuilt with prior missing footage, New English audio re-mastered from original vault materials, Optional Italian audio+English subtitles, trailers and Photo gallery.