1970s Suspense Thriller Secret Gem From Master Director Rescued, Stream Right Now Without Netflix

By Brian Myers | Published

More than 50 years after its production, an early film from Italian director Dario Argento is finally getting its due. Four Flies on Grey Velvet, believed to have been lost to time for more than 20 years, is now streaming online more than a decade after its DVD release in 2012. Film buffs now have the opportunity to view this classic for free from Plex’s vast streaming library.

A Forgotten Part Of Italian Cinema

Four Flies on Grey Velvet is a forgotten masterpiece of Italian cinema, combining intricate details of a diabolical murder plot with plenty of onscreen gore that is attributed to the gruesome touch that Argento is famously known for. The film opens with the protagonist, Roberto, being stalked by an unknown man. After confronting the stranger, Roberto is nearly stabbed with a knife before he is able to overcome his attacker and stab him to death.

A Thriller With Twists And Turns

As the fight is happening, a masked figure is shown taking photos of the incident. Roberto is later plagued with a series of letters from the unknown photographer. Afraid he’ll be arrested for murder if he contacts the police, Roberto confides in his wife, setting off a series of eerie and violent twists and turns in Four Flies on Grey Velvet.

Hated By Critics At The Time

Though considered a masterpiece by many today, Four Flies on Grey Velvet was widely panned by critics in the 1970s. Fran Lebowitz said in a 1978 interview that it was the worst film she had ever seen, which means something, considering that Lebowitz, at the time, had a column where she reviewed “bad” movies. Criticisms of the film from others included unnecessary sex and gratuitous violence, set inside a poorly scripted film.

Available To A New Audience

But standards have certainly changed when it comes to examining films over the last 50 years. Four Flies on Grey Velvet garners a respectable 63 percent among reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes and 60 percent across 1,000+ audience ratings. With the film’s release on the streaming service, it’s likely that it will earn a new generation of fans.

Music By A Legendary Composer

Those who view Four Flies on Grey Velvet might feel a sense of familiarity with the film’s score. That’s no coincidence. Ennio Morricone, the multi-Acadamy Award-winning composer, was the man behind the music for the film. Morricone scored more than 500 films and television shows over a long and storied career that included work on The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly, The Hateful Eight, and The Untouchables.

Thought To Be Lost Forever

The film had been considered lost for years, but not because the prints of Four Flies on Grey Velvet were missing. Aside from a French VHS of the movie that was released decades ago, there was no effort to bring the film to home audiences. Paramount Pictures owned the rights for more than 20 years and chose never to release it.

Launched A Horror Legend

Four Flies on Grey Velvet stars Michael Brandon as Roberto, Mimsy Farmer as Nina, as well as Jean Pierre Marielle, Francine Racette, and Bud Spencer. The film marked the beginning of a successful career for director Dario Argento, who later gave horror fans Suspiria, Phenomena, and Inferno. You can view Four Flies on Grey Velvet for free on the streaming service Plex.