Director – Dario Argento (Suspiria, Tenebre)
Starring – Tony Musante (My Husband is Missing, Night Heat), Suzy Kendall (Darker than Amber, Fear is the Key), and Enrico Maria Salerno (Dog Lay Afternoon, Last Stop on the Night Train)
Release Date – 1970
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 4.5/5
In the world of Italian horror there is very few names as big as Dario Argento. Arguably Argento is credited with creating the Italian horror giallo movement. Rather he created it or not he has damn sure improved and contributed some phenomenal films. Argento is known for his spectacular and visually stunning Susperia and the Three Mother’s Trilogy. Susperia may not be one of my favorite films but I can watch it all day and never tire of it. It is a pure work or art and beautifully filmed.
In 1970, almost a decade before his masterpiece, he directed The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. This early giallo is one that I had always wanted to check out but because giallo is not typically my favorite sub-genre I never really sought it out. Recently Arrow Video released the film on blu. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to hook me up. Thanks guys!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows American Sam Dalmas (Musante) who is visiting Italy with his girlfriend when he witnesses an attempted murder. He is able to call the police and they arrive in time to save her. Because he is the only witness the police take his passport so they can keep him under their thumb. This puts him in the sights of the would be murderer and as bodies start to pile up he has to work behind the back of the police to find the killer before they find him.**Spoiler Alert**
I typically don’t care for giallo. When I say that a great deal of horror fans come at me like I called Romero a dumb dick (which I would never do). I like what I like and I won’t pretend to like something just to look cool. With that being said, I tend to enjoy Argento’s giallo flicks. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was a fun watch but nowhere near the masterpiece that is Susperia.
The acting in this one is decent but far from the best that I have seen. The film’s lead, Tony Musante, was alright but he has a hard time making his character stand out. I can tell the character was written kind of flat but he doesn’t do a great job at making his character standing out from other the other male actors. The remainder of the cast is the same. They offer up a minimal performance and rely on the story to move the film and not the cast.
The story for this one is the perfect murder mystery. The film keeps the viewer guessing about who is doing the killing. The film does move painfully slow but the payout is well worth it.
Finally, the film does have several deaths but they mostly take place off screen. We don’t get the gore most associate with Italian horror but giallo is more about style over blood. We get a little blood and minimal practical effects but that is about the extent of it. Overall, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is another visually stunning film from a true master of horror. Sadly, it is not his best but in this case his worst is better than most. Check it out.
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