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4.2 out of 5 stars
Four Flies On Grey Velvet [Uncut remastered] [Blu-ray]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2013
Four Flies On Grey Velvet, Dario Argento's 1971 closer to his debut "Animal Trilogy" of thrillers, was long thought of as the lost Argento film due to decades of rights fights and missing footage. And now we have this great edition from Shamless which restores all the lost footage, making it the definitive blu-ray edition. Argento's trademark style and atmosphere are here, albeit in their early stages. One notable difference is this movie has an orchestral score which was done by Ennio Moricone, rather than the rock music scores from Goblin that would be a trademark in Argento's later films. A good early film from one of the world's finest horror film directors, however I wouldn't say it was one of his best.

The movie introduces us to band member Roberto Tobias (Michael Brandon), a drummer in a rock band, married to Nina (Mimsy Farmer) a beautiful and rich woman. He lives in a stylish, comfortable villa; he's popular at parties, and he basically leads a perfect life. But Roberto then notices a man stalking him. Wherever he goes, the man is right behind him. And he's not even making an effort to remain out of sight. One night Roberto loses his patience and confronts the stalker at an abandoned theatre. Circumstances cause the man to die accidentally but Roberto is photographed by a person wearing a creepy, baby-like rubber mask. Soon a mind game begins between this watcher and the protagonist.

Some people may think that Dario Argento only makes movies with one formula: mysterious killer bumps off victims one by one until amateur sleuth stops him. I wouldn't argue with this description. But his earlier work showed some creativity within this formula. 4 Flies On Grey Velvet is a good example: the antagonist here is more concerned with making Roberto's life hell - leaving incriminating evidence at his house, killing his cat, taunting him on the phone ect.

To get the most out of Four Flies it's best not to expect a character driven narrative. Sure, story has never been at the forefront of any Argento flick, but in most of them an innocent witness acts as our puzzled guide providing a centre to events. Instead here things flit around following different characters and the films themes of deceit and guilt become the thread holding everything together. It's an odd approach to a mystery thriller and Argento mostly pulls it off despite a second act that feels as lost and confused as Roberto. This great Blu-ray has both the Italian and English audio tracks and it comes through crystal clear which will be fantastic news to all the fans who've forked out for inferior unofficial releases over the years. Also included is an in depth interview with Argento's buddy and friend to the special feature Luigi Cozzi plus a photo gallery and a couple of trailers.

Four Flies is an entertaining, odd and unfairly maligned film in the Argento cannon and it definitely warrants a watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2012
I watched the Shameless Blu Ray release of this film and was incredibly impressed. Firstly it was nice to see Shameless keep the 'giallo' (yellow) colour for the case, contrasting it nicely to the normal blue casing for BLu Ray films. This helps it stand out in any collection. The film itself is incredible and while it is decades old the transfer and quality is superb. Needless to say Shameless packed in some nice extra's, an insightful interview with Luigi Cozzi gives an awesome insight into Argento's process for making the film as well as everyones contribution. It does go into detail for how they shot the final climatic death scene of the killer so be careful of spoilers if you're watching this interview- I fast forwarded past this part, enjoying the rest of the interview.

The film is spectacular. Some lost footage has been added and this admittedly is inferior quality but none the less highly entertaining and gives the film more weight for ardent Argento fans.

In short, the story centres around a young musician who participates in the murder of an old man, who for unknown reasons is stalking the protagonist. Straight away the film opens with intrigue, uncertainty, and taut tension as the lead is haunted by an assailant who witnessed and recorded the accidental murder. The protagonist's life is thrown upside down by remorse, fear, and shame as his life is torn apart from the intruder who violates his home and stalks after him and his wife. I refrain from calling the lead a hero because in essence he isn't. Rather being an anti-hero he comes across as a wholly human character, flawed and trepid, yearning for a life outside of the normality he's faced with in the relationship with his wife. Getting the aid of an eccentric investigator, the protagonist can only wait and fight for his life as the attacks increase and he becomes embroiled in his own adulterous actions, until the final confrontation.

It's interesting to see Bud Spencer as 'God', the leads friend who introduces him to the eccentric investigator. More noteable for his films alongside Terrence Hill, Spencer accompanies the story well without overbearing it. As always Argento directs with superb talent. The presentation in the Blu Ray is nothing short of glorious and a must for all Italian cinema lovers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2014
Four Flies is turning into marmite for most fans who either love this or hate this. Not sure how that can be given the stunning cinematography, direction and a great storyline that keeps you hooked in.

What is so pleasing about Four Flies is that it has layers of interesting characters. The dippy gay but determined private investigator, GOD, The man in the tree always on the look out and our main cast make for a great suspense thriller but here's the thing. This movie also has dashes of black humour.

The park scene is obvioulsy a homage to Val Lewton's The Leopard Man, and has been done so well, a very intense scene. I can't say that Four Flies is Dario's best work, but I would certainly have it right up there in his top 10 films.

A great early success.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2012
It's been a long time trying to get to see this missing film from this talented director. Argento very rarely fails to impress me with his unique approach to camera angles and directive skills and this one is no exception. I see influences from this film showing through, to appear in his later films, particularly 'Tenebrae' and maybe 'Opera' and some others.
Not the most brilliant of scripts and a little slow to get going but very enjoyable on the whole.
It's a breath of fresh air from up-to-date similar attempts at thrillers and horrors and sits quite nicely in a special kind of film category that one rarely finds nowadays - pity there isn't more, time will tell!!
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on 26 November 2014
Four Flies On Grey Velvet is likely to divide all who watch it. But for me at least, this is Argento's pivotal movie, where he is laying claim to his ambition and flexing his creative mind, and muscles.. This film is where key devices of the directors work are experimented with and thus he creates perhaps his most eclectic film, and indeed it can seem there are two distinct 'moods' to the film; that of the tongue in cheek humour and campness and then the seriously creepy giallo elements which are typical for Argento. Yes it can be slow in places and the acting is not always great but Argento makes his choices carefully; the two leads represent more dolls than human beings and Argento toys with them accordingly.

On the other hand to this the whole film is wonderfully shot - with real imagination and sensitivity having gone into the cinematography. The trees outside the apartment in the penultimate scene - brightly lit, look like swaying demons thrashing in a volatile atmosphere - it is these small details for the more observant which make this film a gem- The operatic ending (a crash) is the best example of this as well as using the images of the four flies in various places. Also, it is the small 'tricks' like when the lead male opens his chest in his house - and up pops his deceased cat wrapped in a plastic bag - a most grotesquely comical surprise which is representative of the film's humour and macabre voyeurism as a whole, ie it settles for more subtle nuances than the big bloody shocks, although these are also present. The fact that Argento seems to have scaled down the bloodflow in this film makes me think that he was really serious in his ambition to make FFOGV somewhat of a genre-bender or cross-over film. It does indeed transcend the more narrow confines of the traditional giallo.

FFOGV is for me, along with Tenebre, one of the director's best works simply because it seems to have distilled the truly personal and unique characteristics which make Argento's films his own. There is an underground, arty and loose character to the film which may appeal to some and repel others. I like the fact that Argento explores his territory here in FFOGV and sees what he can find. If you take the film literally - it will appear somewhat ridiculous, but just suspend your rational mind and enter the universe of the cagey and cruel imagination of horror's pioneer to revel in the madness of this film. For me it is a flawed masterpiece!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2011
Although this film was out of print for a long time, that doesn't reflect its quality; Four Flies on Grey Velvet is a stylish giallo with an interesting mystery. The only downsides are some hit and miss humour and a somewhat substandard soundtrack from Ennio Morricone.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2009
Like others at long last I can review Argento's "lost film."

I was not expecting much. Art of Darkness provides a poxy 2 page review by the usually reliable Kim Newman that does nothing to excite. Alan Jones' Profondo Argento has a bit more background but as it was from the period before he wrote reviews for Starburst, there was no review of the time as there is for the later Argento films in the book. DVD Delirium Vol 1 mentions this film in passing in the review of The Cat O'Nine Tails DVD but merely says that it was a more difficult film. All in all it seemed impossible to watch this film and those who had were not saying much of interest about it!

SPOILERS AHEAD. I watched it last night for the first time and whilst it did not stun in the way that the first viewing of Deep Red, Suspiria, Inferno or Tenebrae did, my first reaction was that it reminded me how good Argento was before falling from grace. I continue to buy the likes of Phantom of the Opera, Jenifer, Pelts and Mother of Tears in the hope that Argento will show what he is capable of but here is a film that contains all the elements that made his work so attractive in the 70s. The only failing it has is in its lack of jaw dropping violence that we expect from Argento.

What it does have once analysed is links to most of his subsequent films and so watching this now with hindsight allows us to appreciate his development as a director.

For example, the maid awaits a meeting in a public place and Argento uses cinematic distance in varying shots displacing us from the camera, the screen and the distance between objects onscreen as he did so successfully with the murder of John Saxon in Tenebrae. The build up here is just as unsettling.

Then we have the use of a dummy by the murderer as an object to mystify just as Argento would return to in Deep Red and Nonhosonno. Flashbacks to memories of an asylum appear early on and the gender and sexuality confusion of the murderer are themes that he examined so well in Tenebrae also.

Hereditary mental illness appears here for the first time as the murderer's mother was also in an asylum. Argento returns to this theme in Phenomena (mother and the criminal father of the maniac) and Deep Red (unbalanced son with maniac mom.)

Whilst the murders are tame we see strangulation with a cord as he used in Cat O'Nine Tails and returned to in Tenebrae (cord still), Phenomena (chain this time) and Trauma (device that strangles then decapitates!)

To balance the warped sexuality issues of the murders Argento invests the most sympathy for the homosexual character in the film, the private detective who continually fails to solve cases. Argento would also explore such characterisations in Deep Red and Tenebrae, of both homosexual men and homosexual women respectively.

Visually the film excites. Jump cuts are used superbly in the opening stalking when looking at the doors to the theatre. One victim hides in a wardrobe and is lit by a vertical streak as she looks out, an image he would return to equally well in the opening train sequence in Nonhosonno.

At the climax the apparent murderer runs from the hero to be caught in a tragic vehicle accident that kills her, an event repeated to Carlo in Deep Red.

An element explored here that we have not seen repeated is the element of dream imagery. Throughout the film Roberto dreams of a middle east execution as described by a character early on. This is then repeated in the stunning car death of the murderer at the end, with a similar decapitation as shown in the dream. These dreams are the key to Four Flies as the whole film runs in a dream like state - at the beginning we have the stalking of the stalker and the stalkers apparent murder and its photographing by the unknown dummy like person. The maids death is partcularly nightmarish with the inspiration of Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace appearing when characters literally vanish within the camera shot and the maid realises she is alone. Suddenly darkness falls and the nightmare continues. Argento would return to nightmare cinema in his masterpiece Inferno (my own favourite, along with Opera.)

So for all of you Argento fans what are you waiting for? This is a greatest hits by a director at a point in his career when he was beginning to shine. Easily the best of the animal trilogy.

We live in hope that one day Five Days in Milan will surface with english subtitles.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2012
There are few who would argue Dario Argento's influence and key role in cinema (espcially Italian Cinema)with his importance to the giallo genre and such classic films as SUSPIRIA and TENEBRAE. However, despite his much loved filmography, FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET has not been treated kind by time and for a lengthy period was even thought to be lost. But thanks to Shameless, this film is now available in glorious high definition - looking and sounding better than it has ever done before.

Completing Argento's notorious 'Animal' trilogy of films, FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET will keep you hooked to the set and hanging on the edge of your seat. The plot is one of the strongest in giallo cinema and has plenty of red herrings and one hell of a twist ending! See if you can work it out - I'm sure you wont. Acting is top-notch, the music by Ennio Moriconne is superb and Argento's direction is at it's peek. This truly is a marvelous film.

The Shameless Blu-Ray (and DVD) comes with plenty of extras from reversible artwork and an incredible audio.

I highly recommened this release to all Argento fans and those who enjoy cult cinema. Don't miss it!
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on 16 October 2013
nice to finally see one of dario argento more rare films and even better with footage not seen before in other versions also you had the choice too watch it in italian or english dubbed but some footage is italian subtitles as it is from different versions around the world but thats fine to get the complete version also it arrived in 3 days as good as new like it said also a cheap price oh and there is some good extras on the disk too i recomend this too dario fans too see the man at his prime
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2010
Michael Brandon plays a successful drummer in a rock band and ends up been black mailed after he accidently kills his stalker.

This is a typical Dario Argento film filled with twists, killings and some great camerawork.

This is an exciting film and one of my favourite Argento movies just like in Bird with Crystal Plummage and Cat O Nine Tails he doesnt focus on the violence of the killings and this actually works well with this movie. Audiences will never guess the identity of the killer as I know I was completely wrong when they were finally revealed.

Ennio Morricone composes the score and its not his best but it still works well in parts (The end piece is brilliant) and Spaghetti Western fans will notice Bud Spencer in a supporting role.
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