Four Flies on Grey Velvet DVD Review
Written by Simon Bland
DVD released by Shameless Screen Entertainment
Written and directed by Dario Argento
1971, Region 2 (PAL), 104 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 30th January 2012
Michael Brandon as Roberto Tobias
Mimsy Farmer as Nina Tobias
Jean-Pierre Marielle as Gianni Arrosio
Bud Spencer as Godfrey 'God'
Four Flies on Grey Velvet has long been a missing feature in every Dario Argento fan’s DVD collection. Over the years it’s earned quite a cult following purely down to the fact that it’s so hard to get hold of. Almost every copy out there is missing at least a few seconds of film and every version is in varying states of watchability. Luckily however, horror fans can rejoice in the knowledge that ace UK distributors Shameless have scraped together a brand new DVD rendition of this creepy crime caper just in time for its 40th anniversary. You can almost hear Dario completists gush a sigh of relief...
As for the movie itself, fresh-faced shockaholics may find it an acquired taste. It follows the increasingly stressful life of Roberto (Michael Brandon); a shaggy-haired musician who believes someone is stalking him. After tailing this mysterious stranger into an abandoned theatre an on stage scuffle swiftly becomes an accidental murder leaving Roberto clutching a bloody blade. It quickly becomes apparent that this big blunder is no little secret, as a masked man begins to blackmail our wrongly accused rocker by dishing out photos that catch him seemingly red-handed.
After a fast paced opening act scored by legendary movie soundman Ennio Morricone, Argento’s missing gem loses momentum just as quickly as it gained it. As Roberto sets out to discover who’s set him up and why, Four Flies suffers some serious story-development sag. Die-hard fans may be able to overlook this gripe by drooling over the pristine spit polish the original print has been given, however Argento-virgins may have trouble keeping up. Despite some valiant efforts from the brilliantly intense Mimsy Farmer as Roberto’s wife and a few quirky supporting faces, Four Flies struggles to survive its detective-story centre, audience intact.
However, all those who make the transition are rewarded with a slight burst of adrenalin as it enters its dark third act. A few saucy sex scenes peppered with some chilling death sequences reclaim viewers’ attention sharpish. Patchy restoration process aside (even this presentation features some grainy visuals and Italian dubbed dialogue), Four Flies on Grey Velvet will have you on the edge of your seat as it powers towards its dark and brooding climax. Although in hindsight it would be a stretch to say that this missing instalment of Argento’s Animal trilogy (its neighbours being Cat ‘O Nine Tails and The Bird With The Crystal Plumage) has withstood the test of time. You need look no further than the film’s now smirkable ‘the image of the killer can be found on the victim’s retina!’ logic to reach that conclusion. Instead, Argento’s missing movie becomes nothing more than a must for collectors and just a maybe for everyone else.
Video and Audio:
It’s the best quality version you’re likely to find. Audio’s spot on for the most part although there are still some low quality segments here and there.
Besides a (brief) intro by assistant director Luigi Cozzi, this new edition boasts both an Italian and English trailer, English credits and a photo gallery. However it’s the brand new ‘making of’ chat with Cozzi that wins the top prize. Watch out though, it’s spoilerific.
Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.