Friday, 16 May 2008

All the Colors of the Dark (1972)

Sergio Martino’s 1972 All the Colors of the Dark (Tutti i colori del buio) is an interesting hybrid, combining elements of both the giallo and the classic Italian gothic horror film. Jane has lost her unborn child in a car accident, and is also haunted by strange dreams of a knife-wielding man trying to kill her. The stress is affecting her marriage, and has effectively put an end to her sexual life. She has sought help from psychiatrists, but without success. Increasingly desperate, she accepts the advice of a friend who tells her that she knows of a group that can help her. Unfortunately this group turns out to be a coven of devil-worshippers. Or at least that’s how it appears to Jane. By this time though she is so disturbed that she is having trouble separating reality from nightmare. Her husband is also dosing her with pills, which may or may not be contributing to what may or may not be her delusions.

It’s quite an ambitious movie in its own way, and also exceptionally ambiguous. Of course Italian horror movies aren’t exactly renowned for overly coherent plotting, but in this case the ambiguity is deliberate and effective. Italian horror movies are known for their impressive visual style, and All the Colors of the Dark is very stylish indeed. There’s comparatively little gore, but this movie doesn’t need gore. The steady spiralling into madness, and Jane’s awareness that she may be going insane but on the other hand the nightmares might be very real indeed, provides more than enough in the way of chills.

Edwige Fenech gives a reasonably competent performance as Jane. She’s not the world’s greatest actress but she effectively conveys Jane’s doubts about her own insanity. Director Sergio Martino does a terrific job – the movie is superbly paced and highly atmospheric, with some fine visual set-pieces. This is a movie that should please both giallo and gothic horror fans. Highly recommended!

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