By Luigi Cozzi
For many years now fans of Dario Argento have long been asking one question "when will Four Flies On Grey Velvet ever get released?" Rarely seen officially outside of bootleg videos and occasional festival screenings, both utilising scratchy beat up prints, this holy grail of giallo cinema has been the source of great frustration not only for fans of Argento's work but astoundingly also in reality for the director himself and all those involved in the films production.
So what exactly is the issue with Four Flies and how exactly do we begin to unravel the mystery that seems more bewildering than trying to decipher the Da Vinci Code? Well, thankfully the films co-scriptwriter, 2nd unit director and good friend of Argento Mr Luigi Cozzi is a determined man and with the release of his latest book (simply titled) 'Four Flies On Grey Velvet' the questions are at long last answered.
Opening with an extensive overview of the investigation of the films rights carried out by Cozzi (the details of which even at one point shockingly uncover that the film was in the absurd legal position of having no legitimate rights owner following the bankruptcy of the Italian production company SEDA and the seeming expiration of Paramount's rights) this fine tome grabs your attention early on making this both an enthralling read and hence in turn perhaps the singular most essential film book made regarding Argento's work.
But to say 'Four Flies' the book is simply an investigation of licensing rights would be a grave injustice to the extensive content contained therein. The fact is the majority of the investigation is contained within the books opening section and thereafter expends into a sprawling overview of the film itself. Following the inclusion of the films original screen treatment itself, Cozzi treats us to a joyful insight into the films creation through the early plot concept planning stages between himself and Argento (the initial scene opener for Four Flies was in fact planned to show a member at a rock gig screaming that a murderer was present; an idea ditched as too fantastic but later resurfaced in variant form for the legendary Profondo Rosso/Deep Red) to the films casting (and the impacts of meeting Italian legislation for funding) to the troubled film score and post production. Having been heavily involved in the films production from the initial stages right through to date Cozzi offers an exciting insight into both the films production and the mind of Argento as a filmmaker which no other genre observer has been able to offer before. The book offers a wealth of new information and great detail that will both astonish and bemuse (the concept of Argento's 'write it as you go' writing style is astonishing though on reflection perhaps should not be surprising and the man comes across as a truly enthusiastic lover of the genre scene).
And even with such extensive coverage from Cozzi himself, 'Four Flies' the book continues to offer so much more from other contributions including an excellent on set interview (conducted by Marcella Elsberger for Paese Sera newspaper) reprinted for the first time since 1971 which shows Argento's playfulness (and just a touch of egocentricity) whilst scribes such as Lorenzo Letizia, Antonio Tentori and Fabio Giovannini offer up fascinating overviews of the films music, Argento's animal trilogy and much more.
Whilst we may not yet (at time of writing) have the seminal 'Four Flies On Grey Velvet' released on the DVD format (legally) for all to enjoy where it truly belongs we do though in the meantime have this stunning (if somewhat unassuming looking) paperback tome (here presented welcomingly in English for the first time) from Luigi Cozzi which truly is an essential purchase for every Argento fan. As for the current position regarding the rights holder of the film? Well, you'll need to read the book - wont you?
Review by Alan Simpson
For details of how to order 'Four Flies On Grey Velvet' or any other Profondo Rosso publication visit the online store by clicking here.
The Italian genre movie scene is a strange beast indeed, through the 1970's and the 1980's the Italian horror scene became one (with the advent of video) a much (rightly) lauded film movement that garnered massive respect and admiration from horror fans across the planet. But as the 90's progressed and video sales dwindled (along with the home market in Italy for genre movies flailing up against mass market Hollywood crap) interest waned outside of the die hard followers and although with the advent of the DVD format the Italian genre scene has once again raised its profile and regained its crown I've always been curious as to what became of some of the scenes key players and their activity of late. One such man is the legend that is Luigi Cozzi, whilst long mostly know outside of Italy for his work on exploitation treats such as Contamination and Star Crash (though criminally oft not acknowledged for stunning work such as his The Killer Must Kill Again and his writing chores on gems such as Four Flies On Grey Velvet) not many realise that Cozzi is a great talent and rightly revered for his work in genre magazines and publications.
Long been out of reach for non Italian speakers, it's with much anticipation that we welcome the English translation publications of Luigi Cozzi's tomes 'Mario Bava: Master Of Horror' and 'Giallo Argento'. Both published independently by Profondo Rosso, the publishing arm of Argento and Cozzi's Rome based fantasy fan store, each book is crammed with hundreds of pages of personal musings and previously unknown facts from Cozzi on his personal knowledge and observations of both Argento and Bava's careers. Heavily illustrated throughout, each book is a stunning insight into the careers and lives of two great artists (and at the same time by default a welcome look at the scribe himself and his underrated role in Italian genre cinema).
Whilst some may be slightly put off by the quite high price tags of these books, at 21 euro each they will initially feel highly priced for small paperback volumes but once you submerge yourself in Cozzi's world you'll feel every cent was worth paying for such a warm and insightful appreciation of Bava and Argento's work. Sure they are not without fault, some of the translations from Italian to English are sketchy but that simply adds to the charm and the addition of colour sections and a larger page size (to perhaps A4) would have been welcome but for such a glorious indie publication these are small misgivings.
Fans of Italian horror need not think twice about picking these gems up, an essential addition to any genre fans collection and if your in Rome sometime you can even pop into the Profondo Rosso shop where you'll find Cozzi holding court and you can get him to sign your copy personally! Otherwise you can find out more by visiting the Profondo Rosso store online by clicking here - ciao!Back