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Film / Four Flies on Grey Velvet

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Ha! Caught you red-handed!

When the flies start to crawl, so will your flesh...

Four Flies on Grey Velvet is a giallo film by Dario Argento from the year 1971, and last one in his "animal trilogy".

One day, professional drummer Roberto Tobias notices a strange man clad in black, who is following him everywhere. One night he goes after the man, and as he tries to question the man, the confrontation goes very wrong as the guy ends up being stabbed by his own knife and a mysterious masked person takes a picture of Roberto holding it. Soon after, Roberto starts receiving messages from that person which indicate that his life is going to become living hell, and he will be murdered at one point.

Four Flies has the examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Killer's stepfather.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The Professor boasts that he knows over 1200 lines from the bible. He quotes about two.
  • Accidental Murder: Roberto accidentally stabs the guy who has been following him. Or more precisely they want him to think that he did.
  • Bullet Time: The first example in film history. Used when killer fires a shot at Roberto during the climax.
    • The killer's death also involves slow motion.
  • Camp Gay: Detective Arrosio. He meets another one during his investigation.
  • Cut Phone Lines: The killer cuts the phone line to Roberto's house while Roberto is on the phone to God.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: After the killer's car crashes, its engine explodes.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Roberto's cat.
  • Eye Remember: When Dalia dies, police extract the last thing she saw from her retina: four flies on grey velvet.
  • Freudian Excuse: The killer hates Roberto because he's a dead ringer to her father, whom she despised because he raised her as a boy and kept on beating her when she couldn't live up to expectations.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Dalia tries to get Roberto into a relaxing bath, he angrily responds that he will not. Cue to the next shot where he is sitting in a bath.
  • In-Series Nickname: "God" for Godfrey. Also, The Professor.
  • Motive Rant: Roberto learns about the killer's motive as he is held at gunpoint.
  • Nightmare Dreams: When Mirko tells about a beheading he saw, Roberto starts to have nightmares where his head is lopped off. Not until the very end does he realize that he actually dreamt about his wife, not about himself. Though his explicit verbal revelation thereof is included in director's cut only - in a theatrical one it's left to the audience.
  • No Ending: Nina, driving away in Roberto's car, smashes into the back of a garbage truck at full speed. The audience sees this happen in ultra slow-mo. Her severed head comes flying out of the wreck. The car explodes. Freeze-frame on the explosion. Roll credits.
  • Off with His Head!: Roberto repeatedly has nightmares about this happening to him. It happens to Nina for real at the end.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: The killer leaves Roberto's dead cat inside a cabinet for him to find.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: The postman.
  • Red Herring Mole: The crippled neighbour.
  • The Reveal: Two of them:
    • The fact that the guy whom Roberto thinks he killed is actually still alive. The killer herself offs him later on.
    • The killer's identity, who is actually his wife Nina.
  • Searching the Stalls: Arrosio does this when he hunts for the killer in the bathroom at the train station.
  • Slashed Throat: Roberto's maid Amelia thought she could blackmail the killer. She gets her throat sliced instead.
  • Slow Motion: Nina's demise.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Serene music plays while the killer dies.
  • Spiteful Spit: Marosi spits on the killer's face before being finished off.
  • Sun Glasses At Night: The man who keeps following Roberto around wear sunglasses at all times.