All the Colors of the Dark

Color, 1972, 94 mins. 28 secs.
Directed by Sergio Martino
Starring Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Ivan Rassimov, Julián Ugarte, George Rigaud, Susan Scott, Marina Malfatti, Luciano Pigozzi
Shameless Screen Entertainment (Blu-ray & DVD) (UK RA/R2 HD/PAL), Shriek Show (US R1 NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9), ELEA Media (Blu-ray & DVD) (Germany RB/R2 HD/PAL), marketing-film (Germany R0 PAL) / WS (2.35:1)

All the Colors of the DarkAll the Colors of the DarkWhile Dario Argento was busy making his "animal trilogy" of giallo classics during the early 1970s, the lesser known but fascinating Sergio Martino cranked out five highly accomplished horror-thrillers of his own: The Strange Vice of Signora Ward (a.k.a. Next! and Blade of the Ripper), Case of the Scorpion's Tail, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (a.k.a. Excite Me), Torso, and the wonderfully stylish All the Colors of the Dark. This feverish cross between a murder mystery and Rosemary's Baby supernatural horror stars the gorgeous Edwige Fenech, who enlivened three of Martino's other gialli as well, and teams her up with genre regular George Hilton, who appeared in too many of these things to count.

Here the glamorous duo appear as Jane and Richard, a posh London couple coping with the stress of Jane's recent miscarriage due to a car accident. Meanwhile Jane has also been having intense, recurring nightmares involving the murder of her mother and a blue-eyed, knife-wielding Ivan Rassimov, so she seeks help from her sister's psychiatrist, Dr. Burton (Rigaud). Jane's mysterious new neighbor, Mary (Malfatti), has a far more radical solution in mind; she initiates Jane into a satanic cult! Here the main devil All the Colors of the Darkworshiper (Ugarte), a goateed creep All the Colors of the Darkwith long gold fingernails, forces Jane to drink fox's blood from a golden goblet and tosses her on the floor for a druggy orgy scene. As Jane's sanity begins to crumble, she wonders whether her horrific visions might actually be premonitions of a violent future; even worse, it could be connected to a sinister man who seems intent on terrorizing and stalking her no matter where she goes.

Loaded with enough twists and turns to keep the most fanatical whodunit fans busy, All the Colors of the Dark starts off with a bang thanks to Jane's unforgettable nightmare sequence, which would have established Martino as a powerful director to be reckoned with had anyone ever seen it outside Italy. Unfortunately this amazing curtain raiser, along with several vital dialogue scenes and the entire climax, was removed by Independent International when this circulated under the odd title of They're Coming to Get You and then on video as Day of the Maniac. In its original version, Martino's film is a one of the strongest of its ilk thanks to some terrific scope photography, Fenech at her finest, and a top drawer music score from Bruno Nicolai, who even returns to Eugenie territory during the trippy devil mass scenes. Despite some actual location shooting, the London setting doesn't really come off thanks to some peculiar dubbing and the fact that no one looks even remotely British, but it's a small quibble in an otherwise marvelous film. All the Colors of the Dark

All the Colors of the DarkMartino's film first appeared on German DVD in 2002 as Die Farben der Nacht, which was a major relief after years of bootleg and a US VHS release that can only be described as a botched mess, containing the heavily cut version (with awful new credits) in an unwatchable cropped transfer. The Italian language VHS was uncut but only halfway letterboxed to 1.85:1; gray market dealers circulated a version marrying what remained of the English language track to this extended transfer, but the results were still confusing and visually unsatisfying. The German disc also marked the first time a crucial scene in the third act involving Jane's husband and sister was available in English, which had only been seen before by most viewers in Italian. An odd cheesecloth type visual pattern is barely visible in portions of some lighter scenes of the non-anamorphic transfer, but it isn't a major distraction. The dubbed German soundtrack is also offered in an extremely annoying 5.1 or 2.0 surround mix; aside from sounding phony and wildly unbalanced, it muffles the music and seems to be taking place underwater. Luckily the English track is in the original mono. Extras include a surprisingly good makeshift trailer set to Nicolai's music, a small stills All the Colors of the Darkgallery, and a whopping twenty trailers for other Astro/Marketing-Film releases. Though in German, these trailers offer a few odd novelties: Randy (apparently a re-edited job containing Sylvester Stallone footage from A Party at Kitty and Stud's), The Hearse, Der Joker (a barely seen 1987 thriller written by fantasy novelist Jonathan Carroll, who later disowned the final product), and best of all, a trailer for The Fan.

All the Colors of the DarkA much better American release from Shriek Show came along in 2004 and features an improved anamorphic transfer with punchier colors as well as the alternate (and better) Italian track with optional English subtitles. Extras include the U.S. and international trailers and new interviews with Martino (20m14s) and Hilton (6m19s), plus a batch of radio spots, the chintzy American opening and closing titles, and a photo gallery accompanied by Nicolai's score.

The film made its HD debut in 2016 on Blu-ray as part of a dual-format mediabook edition in Germany, but it features no English-friendly options of any kind and features a some questionable compression that pushes the inherent digitized harsh grain inherent in the original scan (ID'd now with near certainty as scanner noise) All the Colors of the Darka bit too high for comfort. Otherwise it's colorful and detailed enough to pass muster, but it's really only good for those fluent in either German or Italian.

More satisfying and the best option to date is the UK Blu-ray release from Shameless, which comes from the same scan but does a better job of dealing with the noise issue and looks less disruptive in motion. Colors are beautifully saturated in that early '70s Italian film stock sort of way, a substantial amount of extra image info is visible in the frame, and the source material bears Spanish credits, oddly enough. Options are wisely provided to watch in either LPCM English or Italian with optional yellow English subtitles, both of which sound fine. The main new extras here is an engaging audio commentary by Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan from Diabolique magazine and the great Daughters of Darkness podcast, who go into deep detail about the All the Colors of the Darkconventions of giallo cinema at the time, probable influences of Lucio Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Fenech's status as a current giallo icon and her dabbling in other areas like sex comedies, Martino's tradesman approach to filmmaking and genre, and much more. It's well worth a spin and especially recommended if you've had trouble before with this film's dreamy, nonlinear plotting. A new All the Colors of the DarkMartino interview conducted by Freak-o-Rama, "Dark Is the Color" (32m16s), starts off on familiar ground with the chatty filmmaker covering his start in the movie business and entry into gialli, but it kicks into gear when he gets to this film and explains how he and his producer brother went wild with ideas after seeing a certain Polanski movie. He also covers how the Italian distributor hacked out ten minutes from the film after it opened due to audience confusion (it's complete again now) and the peerless imagination of screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, the most prolific and important writer in the giallo cycle. In addition to the usual Shameless promo, the disc also includes "Doors," an "award-winning short" by Michele De Angelis (10m44s) about a woman's harrowing experience trapped in a very confined space. Shot on video in English, it's a minor but fun little bit of spookiness with a great soundtrack. The limited edition Blu-ray also features reversible sleeve options with two poster design options, one definitely more erotic than the other.


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Updated review on June 8, 2017.