Release Date(s)1972 (January 29, 2019)
Studio(s)Lea Cinematografica/National Cinematografica/Astro C.C./Interfilm/Independent-International Pictures (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: B
Sergio Martino’s career is well-established with a who’s who of celebrated Italian genre films including Torso, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, and The Mountain of the Cannibal God, but few can compare to the truly far out and unusual All the Colors of the Dark (AKA Tutti i colori del buio and They’re Coming to Get You). A Spanish-Italian co-production, its surrealistic view of a young woman (the ravishing Edwige Fenech) who is distraught by black magic, an ever-present male threat, and the possibility of delusion, truly confounds its viewers, right up until its final frames.
Jane (Fenech) is recovering from a car accident in which she lost her unborn child. Her boyfriend Richard (George Hilton) insists that she just needs rest and attempts to keep her at home in order for her to fully recuperate. Her sister Barbara (Susan Scott AKA Nieves Navarro) believes she needs psychiatric care. Meanwhile, Jane continues to have bizarre nightmares about a piercing, blue-eyed stranger (Ivan Rassimov) who is attempting to kill her, but now those dreams are beginning to bleed into reality. Ultimately, she turns to her new neighbor Mary (Marina Malfatti), who insists that she attend a Black Mass ceremony in order to rid herself of her waking nightmares. Unfortunately, it’s only the beginning of her problems.
Although All the Colors of the Dark is classified as a giallo, I don’t really consider to be one, at least in the way that most of us think of the genre. There’s no dark figure lurking in the shadows, sporting leather gloves, murdering people, and leaving notes or making phone calls to the police about it. Instead, it’s a study of a young woman’s possible decent into madness. Are the things that she’s experiencing truly happening, or is there something else behind all of it? What makes it work is Edwige Fenech, who is always stunning to look at, but gives an amazing performance as someone who is nearly driven out of her mind with fear.
Sergio Martino’s attempts to blend events as they occur is always disconcerting, and we’re never quite sure what exactly is happening. As to be expected, it’s also a beautiful film to look at. It doesn’t feature bold strokes, save for a couple of key sequences, but instead goes more for a naturalistic approach. It does nothing but help the film in keeping the viewer completely perplexed. The ultimate payoff isn’t totally satisfying, but the build-up to it is very suspenseful. If anything else, All the Colors of the Dark gives Edwige Fenech the change to stretch her acting muscles instead of just being eye candy which, as an Italian sex symbol, must have been refreshing for her especially.
Severin Films brings All the Colors of the Dark to Blu-ray in the U.S. for the first time with “a new 4K scan from the original negative” (as per the back of the packaging). It’s a solid and organic presentation with deep blacks and high levels of fine detail. Everything is bright and well-defined, never appearing overly sharp or too soft. The color palette is quite varied and rich, including the stark blue eyes of Ivan Rassimov’s character, which are shown frequently. Skin tones are also natural in appearance and contrast levels are satisfactory. The opening title cards are quite erratic, but the rest of the presentation is stable and clean.
The audio is presented with either English or Italian 2.0 DTS-HD tracks and optional subtitles in English and English SDH. Both tracks lack major sonic punch and sometimes tend to favor the left speaker, but offer mostly clear dialogue exchanges and decent heft for score and sound effects. Sync is never really an issue on the English track, but the Italian track is a bit looser by comparison. Both tracks also feature their fair share of hiss, but there are no dropouts or distortions to speak of.
The extras feature plenty of great material, including an audio commentary with film critic and author Kat Ellinger, an admitted die-hard fan of the film who defends it and its director, but also analyzes the film’s content and the people behind it; They’re Coming to Get You, the alternate U.S. cut of the film sourced from a VHS and several minutes shorter, containing different opening titles and trims to the film’s opening sequence; Color My Nightmare, a 40-minute interview with director Sergio Martino; The Last of the Mohicans, an 18-minute interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi; Giallo is the Color, a 32-minute interview with actor George Hilton and Italian horror expert Antonio Tentori; the film’s English language trailer in HD; a low-res trailer and TV spot for the They’re Coming to Get You version; and a CD of the original soundtrack featuring 29 tracks of Bruno Nicolai’s score for the film.
Not included from the Shriek Show DVD release is a 20-minute interview with Sergio Martino, a 7-minute interview with George Hilton, and a set of radio spots. Also missing from the Shameless Films U.K. Blu-ray release is the 2012 short film Doors and a different audio commentary with authors Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan.
I would venture to guess that many Italian horror fans have yet to see All the Colors of the Dark, due mainly to its lack of availability. It’s certainly not a film for everyone, but for those looking for something a bit more off the wall than the usual giallo, it’s certainly worth your time. Severin’s Blu-ray package for the film is certainly the best way to experience it, no matter which side of the fence you’re on.
– Tim Salmons