Tenebrae (1982): Directed by Dario Argento

Tenebrae Sleeve

Newly released on Waxwork Records is the complete soundtrack to Argento’s giallo masterpiece Tenebrae together with a number of related bonus tracks.

This is one of those very special vinyl releases that have obviously been put together with a whole lot of loving care. Befitting for a hyper-stylised movie where even the murders somehow look almost artistic.

The design here really is superb and includes a die-cut style gatefold sleeve, with disc 1 being coloured ‘Blood Red’ while the second disc is in ‘Straight Razor Silver’. Oh, to die for!


There’s also the inner gatefold sleeve above, illustrated by Nikita Kaun. The woman depicted is Jane McKerrow, played by Veronica Lario, the former wife of Silvio Berlusconi. You can say what you like about the man’s politics (and I’m certainly not a fan) but you really can’t argue with his taste in women.

It’s been said that when the couple married in 1990, the Italian mega-mogul wasn’t pleased with his missis being in such a controversial movie and attempted to use his power to suppress it.


He wasn’t alone in trying to make it impossible to see. In Britain it even made the infamous Video Nasties list, a daft idea supported by Mary Whitehouse and her moral majority cronies together with The Daily Mail and Rupert Murdoch papers. A Private Member’s Bill was introduced by Tory MP Graham Bright in 1983 and a year later the Video Recordings Act 1984 was passed by parliament.

Sadly, a victory for censorship and I remain in the camp that says if you want to ban anything why not make a start on the religious texts that encourage extreme violence? This attitude being pretty common at the time of the whole video nasties furore. Not that anyone believed this would ever happen.

Had a single MP watched Tenebrae? I doubt it. Did anybody murder anyone as a result of seeing it? I’ll hazard another guess here – NO.

The bill did at least give rise to some comic moments.

Bible thumping Manchester Chief Constable James Anderton’s officers immediately increased the number of raids on local video stores, at one point seizing a copy of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a musical comedy starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, thinking – possibly hoping or even praying – it was a potentially prosecutable porno.

Of course, many a filmmaker actively sought a ban, using the subsequent publicity to gain media publicity in other countries. The distributors of one infamous Italian cannibal flick even complained anonymously to Mary Whitehouse about their own film.

Cannibal Holocaust really didn’t need any additional attempts to hype up it’s notoriety. In Italy, its director Ruggero Deodato found himself arrested on obscenity charges and accused of making a snuff film due to an idiotic idea that some actors might have been killed onscreen. Which, of course, proved groundless. The whole incident could even be seen as more disturbing than his movie, which to be fair, was pretty out there. And which remained banned in Italy.

The clip of Tenebrae below – like much of the film – is also admittedly gruesome. If you don’t want to see any gore then cheerio, cheerio, cheerio but you’ll be missing out on one of the most inspired ever uses of the vocoder, grandiose drums, magnificently supple 1980s bass, as well as some scintillating baroque disco touches – the band had certainly departed radically from their prog origins by this point.

You’ll also miss out on some virtuoso directing from Argento in the form of a very long and continually fluid tracking shot that begins from below a woman gazing out through a window before creeping up and across the building where she lives, giving an eerie indication of an unseen presence that we can only assume has murder on his (or her) mind. Well, it is a Dario Argento film after all.

This scene also amuses me because what everyone initially assumes to be part of the score turns out to be a character playing Tenebrae on her record player. On black vinyl in case you’re wondering.

Goblin, incidentally, had split soon after working on Dawn of the Dead, with Claudio Simonetti going on to create some of the best Italo disco records of the era in a number of guises such as Easy Going and Capricorn.

Argento was desperate for them to reform in order to supply the music for Tenebrae. Three of the four agreed to the idea, so although often attributed to Goblin, for contractual reasons, at the point when they recorded the music they were instructed not to refer to themselves as Goblin, so chose to string together their three surnames, hence the rather pedestrian sounding Simonetti-Morante-Pignatelli album credit although on Tenebrae – or Tenebre as it is sometimes known, or even Unsane as it was titled on its initial American release – the music is listed as Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante. Got that?

Anyway, here they are playing Tenebrae in Oran Mor in Glasgow, a slightly different line-up to the Goblin I’d seen in 2011 at The Arches, their first ever show in Scotland and a highlight of that year’s Glasgow Film Festival. If you want to see a couple of tracks from that evening, you’ll have to buy a copy of Arrow’s dual format edition of the film released in 2013. I’d recommend you do so and make sure you hear the audio commentary from Kim Newman and The Sex Pistols’ old pal Alan Jones.

The band will be in Edinburgh in August for the Fringe Festival. They’ll be performing their their classic Suspiria score live to a screening of Argento’s legendary supernatural horror and, to celebrate its 40th anniversary, they’ll also be performing to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

Suspiria: 5 Aug, Summerhall, 5.30pm
Dawn of the Dead: 5 Aug, Summerhall, 8.20pm
Dawn of the Dead, 6 Aug, Summerhall, 5.30pm
Suspiria: 6 Aug, Edinburgh, Summerhall, 8.50pm

For more information: www.summerhall.co.uk

For more on the release: https://waxworkrecords.com/products/tenebrae