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us title: Four Flies on Grey Velvet
italian title: 4 mosche di velluto grigio
year: 1973
director: Dario Argento
composer: Ennio Morricone
full details: IMDB
overall score: 93

Bottom Line: Must-See
A quintessential example of the genre.

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

Argento's third installment in the "Animal Trilogy" is one of the first to break in to the 90s on the Giallo Score, and for good reason. Flies is a perfect hybrid of the style and mood heavy Bird with the Crystal Plumage and the more straightforward and plot-driven Cat 'o Nine Tails.

Argento hits his stride with this film, which is often overlooked due to it being overshadowed by (arguably) the genre's best film, Deep Red, as well as its lack of availability on home video. With two successful genre films behind him, you can already start to see Argento pushing the boundaries of the Giallo format here. A practice that would continue in Deep Red.

Gialli seem more authentic when there is a high level of psychological trauma that contributes to the killer's motive, and Four Flies is no slouch in that department. Like Bird (and again in Deep Red), the killer suffers significant psychological trauma early in life which, after lying dormant for many years, resurfaces as catalyst for murder.

In addition to motive, all the other genre staples are well accounted for, including an enjoyable Morricone soundtrack and impressive cinematography. And in the end, Nina's slow motion crash and beheading is one of the best Giallo endings ever constructed.

But unfortunately the film falls short of a perfect score for two main reasons:
  1. It seems that Argento threw out his black gloves after Bird, since they're not featured anywhere here or in Cat and they don't show up again until Deep Red.

  2. There's never a point in Flies where the characters let their guards down because the killer appears to have been apprehended. In fact, the scene with Roberto hunkered down in his apartment until the final revelation shows how tense he is.
Perfect score aside. Four Flies is a unique film that deserves multiple viewings to fully appreciate its effectiveness.

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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 55/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Motivation: Psychological Trauma/Revenge10 points
Avoid Capture: Acciental Death/Suicide10 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 28/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Flashback Revelation3 points
Italian Location3 points
More than one killer or accomplice4 points
Morricone/Nicolai/Ortolani3 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Urban Location4 points
Signatures : 11/10
Animal, Number, Color, or "Death" in title1 point
Chase scene1 point
Comic Relief Character1 point
Gay/Lesbian1 point
J&B1 point
Odd Clue1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Pseudoscience1 point
Psychologist1 point
Taunting1 point
Visual Misinterpretation1 point
Total Points : 93/100



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Published: 2012-09-13