Starring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Erico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Reggie Nalder. Directed by Dario Argento. (1970, 101 min).
Sometimes it's cool to take a look back at a legendary director's humble beginnings.
Before he was synonymous with such atmospheric Italian horror classics as Suspiria and Inferno, Dario Argento first applied his unique skills to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, his 1970 directorial debut. Though not a horror film per se, it was hugely influential on, not only the giallo subgenre, but much of his own subsequent work.
Tony Musante is Sam, a struggling American writer in Italy who witnesses an attempted murder, suspected to be the work of a black-gloved serial killer who's already claimed three victims. For reasons that aren't really explained, Sam's intrigued enough to do some investigating of his own, with some extra assistance from Inspector Morosini (Enrico Maria Salerno). As the murders continue, Sam and his girlfriend, Julia (Suzy Kendall), become targets as well.
|Suppose They Gave an Office Party and Nobody Came.|
The story itself is rudimentary and laughably illogical at times. The characters and performances are uniformly bland, save for a bit of delirious scenery-chewing turn by Eva Renzi. Aesthetically, this film hasn't aged as well as those which would later gain Argento worldwide acclaim. Still, few are as skilled at staging a murder scene as Argento in his prime, and there are glimpses of the same visual mastery that would become his trademarks. The staircase/apartment murder sequence, in particular, is a disturbing, tension-filled marriage of imagery and sound (the latter courtesy of Ennio Morricone).
|The Less-Than-a-Dollar Shave Club|
Though the film has been available on Blu-Ray before, this version features a stellar 4K restoration and a slew of all new bonus features that Argento fans are sure to like, including some retrospective analyses and a lengthy interview with the director himself.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage doesn't rank among Argento's greatest films, but everybody had to start somewhere. That alone makes this a relatively fascinating viewing experience, like looking back at Spielberg's Duel or Carpenter's Dark Star. While not nearly as graphic as his later work, it's easy to see some of the stylistic elements we identify with his classics. And sadly, like John Carpenter, it's still a damn sight better than anything Argento's done lately.
"The Power of Perception" - A 'visual essay,' spoken by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas over highlights of the film. This is quite informative & insightful;
""Black Gloves and Screaming Mimis" - Film critic Kat Ellinger duscusses the history of the film
"Crystal Nightmare" - A new 30 minute interview with director Dario Argento;
"An Argento Icon" - Interview with actor Gildo Di Marco, who plays Garullo the Pimp;
"Eva's Talking" - A 2005 interview with the late Eva Renzi;
AUDIO COMMENTARY - by author Troy Howarth
60 PAGE ILLUSTRATED BOOKLET (Not available for preview)
REVERSIBLE SLEEVE WITH NEW AND CLASSIC ARTWORK (Not available for preview)
DVD COPY (Not available for preview)
PURR-R-R...A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO APPRECIATE WHERE IT ALL STARTED