PDA

View Full Version : Four Flies on Grey Velvet


RyanPC
04-11-2004, 04:32 PM
Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) *** I'm still not sure whether or not my review for this film is going to be accurate, considering I just watched this yesterday via a download with horrible AV quality. I don't think I appreciated it as much as I would have if it had come from a DVD quality presentation. However, my opinions probably wouldn't change much because I got the gist of the film.

This film is the final installment of what would be Dario Argento's "animal trilogy," a series of giallos (Italian thrillers) that consists of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O'Nine Tails, and Four Flies on Grey Velvet. I haven't seen either of the two previous films, but it doesn't matter because they aren't connected in any other way besides the fact that their titles all have animals in them.

Four Flies concerns a musician named Roberto Tobias, who notices a mysterious man following him around. When confronting the man about why he's following him, Roberto accidentally kills him. However, there is a figure wearing a creepy mask, shrouded in the darkness with a camera, who begins taking pictures of Roberto murdering the man. This other person sneaks into Roberto's house at night and leaves the photographs for him to find. Then, Roberto finds his friends are being murdered one by one, presumably by the same person who left the pictures. This causes problems between young Roberto and his wife Nina, who decides to leave with or without her husband. Roberto, of course, wants to stay behind in order to catch the killer. Who is this creepy person and why does he want to get Roberto into trouble?

It would be a sin for me to reveal anymore than what's written above. While the plot may sound good on paper, unfortunately the film is rather slow. If you thought Argento's Deep Red was slow, this movie will kill you. Fortunately for people who are smart enough to stick around, Argento plots his film in a way so that enough things happen throughout to keep any giallo fan interested.

For those expecting a film with the style and stunning photography of Suspiria, look elsewhere. I'm sorry to say it, but this doesn't even feel like an Argento movie. I'm probably saying that because I'm only familiar with the director's later work and I still haven't seen Bird or Cat, but it's just my opinion. Four Flies is relatively bloodless as well, so people looking for gore will no doubt be bored.

However, there are many great things about this film. The cinematography isn't as good as in Argento's later efforts, but it still has a certain charm that giallo fans will recognize. The film also has a great score by the master, Ennio Morricone, and while there isn't as much of it throughout the film as one would expect or hope, it's enjoyable nonetheless. The acting is fairly solid as well, even if the character of Roberto isn't very likeable (one yearns for David Hemmings!). And the ending is a classic- one of the most memorable Argento moments!

I think that anyone interested in seeing more of Argento's work should seek this film out, especially since it's not out on DVD yet. However, if you're just starting out with Argento, I don't recommend you see this film first- check out Deep Red or Suspiria instead. Overall though, this makes for a very exciting experience, since the film is so rare.

Oh and did I mention this film has the coolest title ever?

RyanPC
04-11-2004, 06:24 PM
Video and audio quality hinders your ability to enjoy a film? I understand if itís atrocious skipping about the screen like a 10th gen VHS dupe thatís been eaten by the VCR and is virtually impossible to distinguish whatís going on, but personally, poor video quality of film has never hindered by liking it. PIECES had a less than modest transfer on DVD from Diamond, but I still like the film. For years I had to watch Fulciís ZOMBIE on the shittiest most washed out dupe ever, and Iíve always loved itÖ.

Anyway, nice review tho all the same.

~ Chris
Thanks. It didn't really affect my opinions of the film, but it did make it a somewhat unpleasant experience. If you had seen the version I downloaded, maybe you'd know what I mean. The transfer that I saw was WORSE than Zombie and Pieces combined.

Cujo108
04-11-2004, 07:37 PM
This gem is one of Argento's top 5 best in my book. My Argento collection seems very bare without it.

Andrew
04-11-2004, 07:39 PM
I agree with Chris, video quality has never really hampered my enjoyment of a film. Sure, it's bothered me, but I've never hated a movie and then seeing it cleaned up had a 360 and loved it. And assuming there aren't multiple copies of FOUR FLIES floating around on bittorrent sites, I didn't think the quality for this was that bad at all. The sound drops out every once in a while towards the beginning, and there's a chunk of information missing from the right hand side of the frame, but otherwise it just looked like a widescreen VHS. I really enjoyed the film actually, although it took a little while to get into it. Definitely check out BIRD and CAT though, as they're also better. The photography is very much in tune with those two (as well is the lack of gore), but it also foreshadows some of the shots seen in DEEP RED (those in the damp, dark streets). I'm glad to have finally seen this, and while I wouldn't rate it very high in Argento's canon, it's still a 3.5/5 (bordering on 4/5) film for me. Definitely needs to be released on DVD!

RyanPC
04-11-2004, 07:47 PM
I agree with Chris, video quality has never really hampered my enjoyment of a film. Sure, it's bothered me, but I've never hated a movie and then seeing it cleaned up had a 360 and loved it. And assuming there aren't multiple copies of FOUR FLIES floating around on bittorrent sites, I didn't think the quality for this was that bad at all. The sound drops out every once in a while towards the beginning, and there's a chunk of information missing from the right hand side of the frame, but otherwise it just looked like a widescreen VHS. I really enjoyed the film actually, although it took a little while to get into it. Definitely check out BIRD and CAT though, as they're also better. The photography is very much in tune with those two (as well is the lack of gore), but it also foreshadows some of the shots seen in DEEP RED (those in the damp, dark streets). I'm glad to have finally seen this, and while I wouldn't rate it very high in Argento's cannon, it's still a 3.5/5 (bordering on 4/5) film for me. Definitely needs to be released on DVD!
Oh no, I didn't mean the video quality made me enjoy the film itself any less, it was just not a very pleasant viewing experience.

Either way, I'd buy this in an instant. I rank it very low in my favorite Argentos, but I still enjoyed it. I will agree though, Andrew, it took a while to start getting along and the first few minutes or so aren't too interesting. However, I did enjoy the ending quite a bit. It was almost poetic. :)

dwatts
04-13-2004, 11:05 AM
Well, quality definately affects my ability to like a film. If it's pan and scanned then I really won't watch it at all anymore.

I'm still waiting for a DVD of this one, we live in hope!

RyanPC
04-13-2004, 12:07 PM
Well, quality definately affects my ability to like a film. If it's pan and scanned then I really won't watch it at all anymore.

'm still waiting for a DVD of this one, we live in hope!
I've heard BU is remastering so hopefully it's released soon!

dwatts
04-13-2004, 05:16 PM
Ryan, I've not read anywhere that BU are working on Four Flies, I'd imagine that would be widely spread info if it were true. I mean, I hope it IS true, but it brings no comfort :(

Shannafey
04-13-2004, 09:41 PM
In terms of the video quality issue... It never affected the enjoyment of a film for me, but I have had second (more positive) opinions on a film when viewing a quality release as opposed to a poor one. Baba Yaga and Cat O' Nine Tails were 2 that affected me in that way.