A few months back I was chatting with a friend about Italian cinema. We talked about our favorite Italian genre films and the particular directors we are fond of. At one point he turned the conversation toward Sergio Martino. At the time I was only aware of Martino by name so I made a note to remind myself to actually start getting around to exploring Martino’s work. Someone at Shameless Films must have been eavesdropping on my conversation because since then they’ve released nothing but Martino films. I’ve now officially begun my Martino education beginning with 1972’s All the Colors of the Dark.
All the Colors of the Dark Stars the lovely and iconic Edwige Fenech as Jane, a woman that recently suffered a car accident that resulted in the death of her unborn child. Since the accident, Jane has been plagued by this terrible nightmares. Eventually, the nightmares become too real and begin to bleed into reality. Is Jane being pursued by a Satanic cult or is it all in her head?
All the Colors of the Dark opens with a scene that is visually quite striking. The scene is one of Jane’s dreams, but as the audience, we don’t know that at the start. The room is completely black but there is a pregnant woman lying on what appears to be a hospital bed, completely naked and rubbing blood on her belly which looks like it is about to burst at any moment. In the room is also maybe a nurse? A crazy looking nurse missing teeth. This nurse, if it is a nurse, turns out to be a doll come to life. The scene kind of reminds me of that scene in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure with Pee Wee’s bike in the ER, but like a more demented version of that.
The entire scene is like experiencing an acid trip. Well, at least what I imagine an acid trip to be like. And this is only the first couple minutes. Martino hooked me quickly and I was instantly in to see where this craziness would end up. The movie goes on to give us Satanic rituals and sacrifices and while it never gets as crazy as those opening moments it provides a thrilling ride to the finish.
Fenech gives a stellar performance as Jane. She’s dealing with perceived paranoia that those around her associate with the accident she recently suffered. Logically it all makes sense because a traumatic experience can have a long-lasting impact, but Jane knows there is something more. Jane is convinced that her fears are valid and she faces an uphill battle trying to convince others.
I love the way Martino directs this film. It has so much style and it all comes from the little things. In one scene you may see the same cut repeated twice in quick succession. The film’s big finale is like something out of a De Palma movie. We watch the scene play out and then we see it a second time from a slightly different angle. It’s these little touches that add up and make the film so memorable. As someone just getting familiar with the work of Martino this makes me incredibly eager to see more.
The new region B Blu-ray for All the Colors in the Dark is good, but not perfect. The opening credits had me a bit worried about the picture quality because they are a bit rough but it clears up quite a bit once the actual film starts and looks good the rest of the way throughout. There are some imperfections throughout but I much prefer to have those remain than have something that is scrubbed to death and ends up looking waxy. The presentation from Shameless has more of a film quality that I much prefer.
The special features include a Shameless trailer reel, short film, audio commentary and brand-new interview with Martino. The interview with Martino is an absolute treat, even for someone like myself that is just getting started on his filmography. Martino reflects on a large bulk of his career and even now in his late 70’s seems very upbeat and passionate when talking about film. It’s hard not to smile when listening to the man talk.
The Shameless Blu-rays from the last year plus have been some of my favorites and this release of All the Colors of the Dark is no exception. It’s yet again another wonderful Italian release that should be added to the collection.
All the Colors of the Dark is now available on Blu-ray from Shameless Films.