23rd Jun2017

‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano, Giuseppe Castellano, Mario Adorf, Pino Patti, Gildo Di Marco | Written and Directed by Dario Argento

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When you hear the name Dario Argento you know what to expect. In many ways, he is the gateway director to Italian horror, and with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage we see his debut into directing. While not his best work, it set many precedents for the Argento style…

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), an American writer finds himself witnessing a murder while on a trip to Italy. Unable to help the victim of the attack, luckily, the victim manages to survive. In the following days though Sam finds himself stalked by the killer, who he in parallel becomes obsessed with.

While I do like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, I do find that Deep Red is his superior film which follows a similar narrative. What we have with Plumage though is an Argento film which has differences from certain traits the director has. One thing that doesn’t change of course is the fact that this is a Giallo. The mystery killer in the dark coat, the black gloves and the obsession with killing with knives is all in place. While the ending may not be what is expected, Argento is a director and writer who often gives a successful twist. In The Bird with the Crystal Plumage he gives one of his most memorable, and that is created through the museum scene.

In putting Sam in a boxed off glass room of the art gallery entrance, unable to get out to get help and unable to get into the museum itself he is left helpless, forced into being a voyeur to the murder. It is in this situation that the clues are put into place for what is a memorable ending.  It is also interesting that the revelation is much similar to Deep Red in that it is interpretation and the memory of the crime scene that leads to the reveal of the killer.

A big difference to Argento’s later work is that the music for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is done by Ennio Morricone. While I am a fan of Goblin who you usually think of when it comes to Argento, Morricone’s music is still very good, and fans of Quentin Tarantino will recognise the main theme. In fact, they’ll also see that Tarantino was paying homage to the opening of this movie in Death Proof.

Looking past the film itself and looking at the special features included with the Arrow Video release, there is an impressive list of interviews, as well as looks at the Giallo in relation to Argento’s work. The interviews with Argento himself are the highlight, but the interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp) is a very nice addition. He may have only had a bit-part in the film, but his performance was memorable enough to stick in people’s minds.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a solid release, especially for lovers of Dario Argento’s work. Not only his directorial debut, it set the scene for many of his future hits and featured one of the most memorable scenes with the art gallery scene. Deep Red may be better, but this is a necessary inclusion into any horror fans collections.

***** 5/5

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is available on Limited Edition Arrow Video Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK now.

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Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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