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Dario Argento’s Door into Darkness (Mya Communication) 
Written by: on January 25th, 2009

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1973
Directors: Dario Argento, Roberto Pariante, Luigi Cozzi, Mario Foglietti
Writers: Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi, Marcella Elsberger,Mario Foglietti
Cast: Enzo Cerusico, Paola Tedesco, Marilù Tolo, Riccardo Salvino, Aldo Reggiani, Laura Belli, Mimmo Palmara, Robert Hoffmann, Mara Venier, Erika Blanc

DVD released: January 27th, 2009
Approximate running time: 228 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Mya Communication
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95

By the early 1970’s the giallo genre would reach the height of its popularity due in part to the success of Dario Argento’s animal trilogy. In 1973 the RAI Italy’s only major television network at the time approached Argento about doing a series of episodes for T.V. based on the same style and theme’s he used for his animal trilogy.

The Neighbor – A young couple arrive at their new villa and right away thing start to go wrong. Their gets caught in mud so they decide to go inside their new villa only to find out the electricity hasn’t been turned on. Later while watching T.V. they discover a stain that is growing in size on the roof. They go up stairs to their neighbors to investigate the stain and when no one is home, but the door is open they let themselves in. They soon discover that the stain was caused by the overflowing water flowing form the bathtub. After they turn off the water and turn on the lights they soon discover something that will forever change their fate.

The Tram – When a beautiful blonde named Monica Rini’s corpse is found on a Tram the next day while it is being cleaned. Inspector Giordani (Enzo Cerusico) who has been assigned to the case decides the best way to solve this case is to do full reenactment with all the passengers. When Giordani’s investigation leads to the wrong man being sent to prison him soon comes up with another plan to save the man that may cost Giordani his life.

Eyewitness – Roberta Leoni (Marilù Tolo) while driving tired and alone one night nearly hits a woman who jumps in front of her car. Roberta after she gets out of her car soon learns that the woman has been murdered and when the murderer comes towards her she runs to a tavern near buy. When the police arrive and search the scene no victim or sign of blood is found. Had Roberta imagined everything or is someone trying to make her look like she is crazy.

The Doll – A patient escape a mental institution and the police launch an all out man hunt. A mysterious man (Robert Hoffmann) carrying a black bag walks around town looking for a woman with red hair. The police intensify their search when Elena Moreschi (Erika Blanc) a fashion designer is found murdered at her place of business. Will the police catch this psycho path before more are killed?

The first episode The Neighbor is more of a thriller in the style of Alfred Hitchcock then what we have come to expect from Italian thrillers. Early on we know who the killer is and the tension is builds as more people discover his secret. This episode also loosely resembles Hitchcock’s Rear Window in which like Cozzi’s The Neighbor the plots revolve around nosy neighbors who through their investigations get in over their head. Mimmo Palmara who plays the psycho path upstairs neighbor strangely resembles Lars Thorwald played by Raymond Burr in Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

The second episode The Tram and the third episode Eyewitness are the two strongest of the four episodes. These two episodes were both directed by Dario Argento and they both follow the standard giallo rules more then the other two episodes. In the Tram Argento takes the simplest idea a passenger murdered on a tram in front of witnesses and he manages to build the suspense until it reaches its peak in the finale. The Tram contains scenes that were original written for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, that were never filmed. In the Eyewitness he mixes things up a little by twisting what is real and what is not before a final reveal that ranks up their with some of his best pay offs. Argento’s two episodes are the most stylish and the best written out the four in this series.

In the final episode The Doll it opens up with a series of quick cuts from the point of view of the killer that are meant to show the instability of this character. This episode feels padded and tends to drag at times and the rapid editing cuts at times seem unnecessary. The Doll is the weakest of the four episodes in this series; still it does have a moody performance from euro regular Robert Hoffmann of Grand Slam and Spasmo fame. The twist ending like most giallo is supposed to be a surprise and in the Doll the final reveal is spoiled to early.

Dario Argento had a falling out with Composer Ennio Morricone while working on the film Four Flies on Grey Velvet which would lead to the hiring of Giorgio Gaslini for the Door into Darkness series. Gaslini would also work with Argento of the Five Days of Milan and the main theme for Deep Red. His music for this series at times resembles Morricones, still he manages to help reshape the series through his rhythmic back beats that add tension through out the series. Argento’s influence is felt through out the entire series. Luigi Cozzi even mentions in one the interviews how they were short a camera man so Argento stepped in. Argento has created a cinema landscape that many have tried to imitate over the years and with the Door into Darkness series he successfully makes the transition from film to television without diluting his original vision.

The DVD:

Dario Argento’s Door into Darkness is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. Door into Darkness was originally shot for television and before each episode a disclaimer is played explaining that the original film elements no longer exist. The transfer for this new release from Mya Communication is a slight improvement over the now OOP German DVD release from Dragon Entertainment. Some improvements on this new DVD release from Mya Communication is that the image looks crisper and colors & flesh tones also fare better. Also Mya Communication’s transfer has been flagged for progressive playback while the Dragon Entertainment transfer was interlaced.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles have been included. The audio sounds clean and clear with only some minor distortion that is most noticeable during music and sound effects. Overall the audio for this release is on par with the audio mix included on the Dragon Entertainment DVD release.

Besides the four episodes which make up the Door into Darkness series. This release also includes a eighty three minute documentary about Dario Argento Titled “Dario Argento – Master of Horror”. This documentary was directed by Luigi Cozzi. Even though this documentary is not an complete overview of Dario Argento’s career. It is an in depth look that includes comments and behind the scenes footage from these films Tenebre, Phenomena, Opera, Two Evil Eyes and Trauma. The documentary also includes comments about some of the films that he has produced and comments from several of his collaborators’. Overall Dario Argento’s Door into Darkness gets an nearly flawless release from Mya Communication, that is highlighted by Luigi Cozzi’s exceptional documentary about Dario Argento, highly recommended.

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