Jane is a tragedy magnet. Plagued by the murder of her mother in her childhood and the recent loss of her unborn child in a car accident, Jane is beset by trippy nightmares that seem to foretell her own impending death at the hands of a blue-eyed man. Her neighbor Mary suggests that perhaps the cure to her woes is to let go and let the Dark Lord have his way with her and she invites Jane to join with her in a black mass to take the pain away. Unsurprisingly, this is not helpful and the nightmares seem to be bleeding into Jane's reality bit by bit. Who is the blue-eyed killer and can she prevent her own death? To find the answer, Jane must reclaim her life, but is she already too far gone?
Sergio Martino's All the Colours of the Dark is a very interesting film set in a very particular time and place. While the idea of joininig a Satanic coven in order to take away her nightmares may seem ludicrous to us now, back in 1972, Satanism and witchcraft were big in popular culture. This film wouldn't be made today simply because no one would believe in any of the choices that the characters make, but in the immediate aftermath of Roman Polanski's watershed horror masterpiece Rosemary's Baby, this was what the world was looking for.
Martino was a jack of all trades when it came to filmmaking. Like many of his Italian contemporaries, he dabbled in whatever genres were making money at the time in the '60s and '70s. This led to siginificant contributions to not only the giallo, as with All the Colours of the Dark and Torso, but also to the Spaghetti Western with Arizona Colt Returns, poliziotteschi with The Violent Professionals, post-apocalyptic Mad Max-ploitation with 2019: After the Fall of New York, and many, many others. It seems to be that his most well known films, however, fell into the giallo genre, and this is one of his best.
He says he was inspired by Rosemary's Baby to make this sort of witchcraft inspired giallo film, and while it seems like a unique mixture, there are actually a number of films that blend giallo and the supernatural quite well. Films like The Perfume of the Lady in Black, Tropic of Cancer, A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, and plenty of others also attempt this mixture to varying degrees of success. All the Colours of the Dark and Lizard in a Woman's Skin are probably the most successful, with a large part of their success due to the directorial talents of Martino and Lucio Fulci.
While Martino certainly takes authorial control of the film, it is the central performance of Jane by Italian genre queen Edwige Fenech that makes the film work. The film isn't really an ensemble piece, there are certainly crucial side characters, but it is the story of Jane above all else, and Fenech pulls off quite a satisfying performance of this woman on the edge of sanity in one of my favorite performances of hers that I've seen. The cast is populated by Italian genre veterans like Ivan Rassimov (The Man from Deep River), George Hilton (Any Gun Can Play, Blade of the Ripper), and Marina Malfatti (The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave), this is definitely the Fenech show, and what a show it is!
All the Colours of the Dark is an unusual giallo that is well worth checking out. Far from typical, Sergio Martino stretches the boundaries of the genre at a time when it was still very elastic creating a fun blend of the supernatural and the terrifying.
All the Colours of the Dark has been out of print on DVD in the US for quite some time, making it a tough one to see. Thankfully, Shameless Films have upgraded cult film fans with this new Blu-ray that looks very decent, apparently sourced from a Spanish print of unknown provenance (the opening titles display the Spanish title of Todos los colores de la oscuridad). That being said, it's a definite step up from any version of the film I've seen before. The film is presented either in English or in Italian with English subtitles. Both tracks are solid and I had no issues with them.
In terms of extras, Shameless has gone for quality over quantity, and the results are excellent. There is a new and exclusive interview with Martino in which he discusses his memories - though fading at this point - of the film and its production. It is a good half hour worth of first hand anecdotes that definitely are worth checking out. The most exciting extra, however, is a feature length commentary from Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan, the hosts of the Daughters of Darkness horror podcast. Ellinger and Deighan make for a great team with Ellinger focusing on the large giallo family tree and projects of the cast and crew while Deighan seems to prefer exploring the thematic elements of the film, though the two switch off pretty effortlessly into the other's territory. It's a very listenable and informative commentary which is among the best I've had the good fortune to explore this year and I can't wait for more from this team. My only real complaint is that the disc wouldn't allow me to switch between the original audio and the commentary track without starting the entire film over again. Last on the disc is an Italian short film called Doors by Michele de Angelis about a woman trapped in limbo, it's interesting and fits the theme of the film, but not a knockout.
All the Colours of the Dark is a wonderful film that is ready to be rediscovered by cult film fans who may not have checked it out because while he's definitely prolific, Martino hasn't yet become a household name. Shameless Films' Blu-ray is the best way to see it, bar none. Definitely recommended.