Tenebre (1982)

X  |   |  Horror, Mystery, Thriller  |  17 February 1984 (USA)
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Reviews: 144 user | 154 critic

An American writer in Rome is stalked by a serial killer bent on harassing him while killing all people associated with his work on his latest book.



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Part three of the "Three Mothers" trilogy which takes place in Rome and has to do with Mater Lachrymarum (The Third Mother).

Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James


Cast overview, first billed only:
Christian Borromeo ...
Veronica Lario ...
Jane McKerrow
Ania Pieroni ...
Elsa Manni
Eva Robins ...
Girl on Beach
Carola Stagnaro ...
Detective Altieri
John Steiner ...
Christiano Berti
Lara Wendel ...
Maria Alboretto
Daria Nicolodi ...
Giuliano Gemma ...
Detective Germani
Isabella Amadeo ...
Bullmer's secretary
Mirella Banti ...
Ennio Girolami ...
Department Store Manager (as Enio Girolami)


With Argento's trademark visual style, linked with one of his more coherent plots, Tenebrae follows a writer who arrives to Rome only to find somebody is using his novels as the inspiration (and, occasionally, the means) of committing murder. As the death toll mounts the police are ever baffled, and the writer becomes more closely linked to the case than is comfortable. Written by David Carroll <davidc@atom.ansto.gov.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Descent Into Madness See more »


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Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

17 February 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tenebre  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (edited)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the Italian language version of the film the opening narration is performed by director Dario Argento. See more »


On the telephone, the killer tells Peter Neal that "you wrote those words, page 46," but in fact the words quoted would have had to be on an odd-numbered page of the book TENEBRAE, given the placement of the text we see in the opening sequence. See more »


[First lines]
Narrator: "The impulse had become irresistible. There was only one answer to the fury that tortured him. And so he committed his first act of murder. He had broken the most deep-rooted taboo, and found not guilt, not anxiety or fear, but freedom. Any humiliation which stood in his way could be swept aside by the simple act of annihilation: Murder."
See more »

Crazy Credits

Anne's screams continue even as the ending credits roll. See more »


Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! Part 2 (2006) See more »


Take Me Tonight
Performed by Kim Wilde
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of Argento's best.
28 January 2002 | by (Ohio, USA) – See all my reviews

I first saw Tenebr(a)e under the moniker "Unsane" (which is supposedly missing ten minutes of gore and some extensive camera-work). I really enjoyed the film, so I bought the rerelease print from Anchor Bay, and I must say, the restored, uncut, letterboxed print looks and sounds wonderful.

There's no need to go into the plot other than to say Anthony Franciosa stars as American horror novelist Peter Neal and, while he's in Rome on a book tour, murders are being committed by one of his crazed fans. I read somewhere that Argento is king of stringing together a plot and cheating audiences just so they can't guess the identity of the killer, and with this as evidence, I agree 100%. It's nearly impossible to figure out this plot before it's fully explained.

Luciano Tovoli's camera-work/cinematography is brilliant, especially the luma crane shot (which goes up one side of a building, over the roof and down the other side in one unbroken taken). There's also an extremely well-photographed and directed sequence featuring a girl being pursued by a rabid Doberman. Now they would do those two scenes with computers, and I think that obliterates the charm of the hands-on film-making process.

In short, this film puts Hollywood thrillers like "Copycat" "The Bone Collector," and "Se7en" to shame, and it's apparent all three films stole ideas from this one (and from other films in Argento's oeuvre).

42 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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