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Crime novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) comes to Rome to promote his
new book Tenebre only hours after a girl (Ania Pieroni) has been
brutally murdered, & inspector Giermani (Giuliano Gemma) finds certain
parallels to Peter's book & thus questions him ... & he was right to do
so too, as soon, Peter receives a phonecall, possibly from the killer.
more murders occur, most victims somehow related to Neal, so it becomes evident
to Neal & his little entourage - his secretary/girlfriend Anna (Daria
Nicolodi), his agent Bullmer (John Saxon) & his teenage assistant Gianni
(Christian Borromeo) - that the killer has to have some relations to Peter too
... but who could it be ?
Peter's half-mad ex-fiancée Jane (Veronica
Laria), whom Peter thinks he has seen in Rome, against all expectations ?
tv-host Alberti (John Steiner), who seems to be fascinated by the message
of Peter's latest crime novel about eliminating all perversion ?
with Gianni, Peter decides to spy out Alberti, but when they get separated
& Gianni sneaks up to Alberti's house, he witnesses Alberti brutally
murdered ... of course, later Peter & Gianni tell nothing about their
little spying game to the police ... but Gianni is convinced he has witnessed a
vital clue but forgotten all about it, so he goes back to Alberti's house at
night ... & really, he did in fact hear Alberti confess all the killings
just before he was killed ... but Gianni doesn't live to tell the tale, because
soon he is strangled, too.
but strangled by whom ?
It turns out that
Peter's mad ex Jane is indeed in Rome, & she has an affair with Bullmer ...
but then Bullmer is stabbed, in broad daylight at a public place, too, &
Jane was not too far to the crimescene.
Later that day, Jane calls anne for
help, & she seems to be suffering from schizoid depression ... but before
Anne can get there, Jane is killed, killed by ... Peter, of course, & while
he's at it, Peter also kills a woman who hastens to the crimescene ... police
inspector Altieri (Carola Stagnaro) ... which is witnessed by both Anne &
police inspector Giermani. Being caught, Peter is reduced to a whimpering
coward, but when he is about to be arrested, he slits his throat ... case
solved, victim dead - or so it seems, as the knife Peter has killed himself
with was only a fake, & soon he places an axe in the back of Giermani, who
only begins to suspect what has happened ... but ultimately, Peter is
accidently killed by a sculpture, a work of modern art ...
But why did Peter
do it ?
a) He had problems with women, ever since he killed one as a
teenager (his guilt was never proven).
b) He wanted to get rid of Bullmer
& Jane, & a psychokiller on the loose is naturally a cut-out
culprit for Peter's murders (as Peter cannot be held responsible for all
the murders, having arrived in Rome only after the first one occured).
so often with Daario Argento's giallos (an uniquely Italian form of
whodunnit thrillers, almost invariably featuring psychokillers), this film
features a rather stupid, sometimes illogical whodunnit plot, but concentrates
less on narrative logic as it is but more on the (graphic) depiction of the
murders on one hand, the process of investigating on the other, both of which
is done with style & panache. & this is what makes the movie - despite
its shortcomings - rather enjoyable.