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Black Serenade
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Black Serenade (2001)

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Plot Summary:
"Students of the university of Salamanca are brutally murdered by a black masked minstrel. Alex, an architecture student who has recently moved to Salamanca discovers a pattern behind the killings; it seems as if the killer strikes regularly after the exams to free the campus from lousy students."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 30 November 2003 My Rating: out of 5


Someone's bumping off students at a Spanish University, where there is a legend about an exclusive club of students called Tunos, minstrels who sang to pay their way. However, a rift opened between the spoiled rich Tunos who got bad marks, and those who studied hard and got good grades. The Tuno Negro (this film's alternate title) sect was thus formed to bump of the bad eggs. But hey, that was a long time ago, it can't happen again, can it?

Well, OK, so the idea of bumping of bad students was used in 'Ripper' too, but that was an even worse film than this, and I've got to find SOMETHING nice to say, haven't I? The rest of the film is just so...blah.

Lead actress Silke is damn hot, as new student Alex, whose boyish name causes mucho hilarious misunderstandings. But that's OK, she takes her clothes off, the only actress to do so. Eusebio Poncela, a cross between Udo Kier and Peter Stormare is quite creepy as Don Justo, but the rest are truly awful. Special mention must go to Sergio Pazos, the oldest-looking student I've seen, as the resident cool guy and drug dealer, he looks like a cross between Father Guido Sarducci, Yanni, Ron 'Ugliest Porn Star Ever' Jeremy, and Tom Savini. He comes across as goofy rather than cool, and his drug-induced death scene is dreadful, later copied in the otherwise fun 'Freddy vs. Jason'.

The deaths, by the way, are mostly lacking in gore and ingenuity. The one exception, and the one scene in the film (aside from Silke's sex scene) worth a damn is the amusing death-by-mandolin bit. The film sure looks good, though, with an Argento-like use of colour, notably in the scenes set in the chapel.

Awful dialogue, and scenes stolen from other horror pics, notably the lecture on criminology, and that old staple, the rising body in the morgue. Sadly, little of this is given a self-referential spin (not that we aren't tired of that crap).

Proof that not all Italian horror films are worth seeing, this one being more in the American style, but unlike 'Scream', it plays things straight, ala the films 'Scream' actually lampooned. Bad idea.

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