Monday, January 24, 2011


(Dario Argento, 1971)
For some time, rock drummer Roberto Tobias (Michael Brandon) has been followed by a moustached man in sunglasses. One night he confronts the man after following him into a deserted theatre. In the ensuing scuffle, Roberto accidentally stabs the fellow. To make matters worse, the event is photographed from the balcony by someone in a creepy dummy mask.
This is only the beginning of Roberto's nightmare, as the deranged witness to the murder begins breaking into the flat Roberto shares with his wife, Nina (Mimsy Farmer), and leaving incriminating photos about the place in addition to choking Roberto and killing their cat. It's not long before the viewer is privy to the fact that the mysterious man killed by Roberto is actually alive, and that someone wants to drive the drummer mad. With the help of a gay private investigator and a couple misfit friends, Roberto attempts to unmask the killer before he himself is done in.
The third and final title in Argento's so-called Animal Trilogy, Four Flies was once one of rarest and most sought-after gialli ever as it was never released anywhere after its theatrical run. Prior to its official DVD release, home viewers could only see it in dark, murky, bootleg form, which proved frusrating to most as almost all of the best scenes in the film occurr in nearly complete darkness.
Story-wise, Four Flies is among the weakest of Argento's gialli, as it's not terribly difficult to point out the killer within the first twenty minutes. The murderer's motive is a little wonky, but makes sense thanks to the Italian language-only explanation that was cut from previous releases. There are also too many misplaced comedy scenes considering that there's not a lot of bloodshed and the violent bits are few and far-between.
Being of early-Argento origin, Four Flies does feature some nifty experimental camerawork, compositions, and lighting. The performances by Brandon and Farmer are a litle flat, though this does somewhat highlight the awkwardness of their relationship. There are a couple of stand-out murder scenes, most notably a wire hanger garrotting, and the killer's decapitation by windshield at the end. Finally, I might mention that Four Flies was scored by the great Ennio Morricone, and his upbeat funk-rock sound adds much-needed excitement to the proceedings. Recommended, though one may prefer to see the superior The Bird with the Crystal Plumage beforehand. Available here.

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