Film editor Rey Ciso works on cutting director Francesco Mancini's latest giallo/poliziotteschi film Tarantola with his beautiful assistant Bella. Once an acclaimed, up-and-coming editor, Rey lost his right-hand fingers in a freak accident and is now handicapped by a prosthetic wooden hand. After hours, an unknown killer sneaks into the studio and kills lead actor Claudio Calvetti and his girlfriend Veronica while they view a workprint of the film. Actress Margarit Porfiry stumbles upon Veronica's hanging body and is stricken with hysterical blindness. Her husband, Police Inspector Peter Porfiry, interviews studio employees.
Back at the studio, Cesare is murdered in the shower and his fingers are severed. With Cesare dead, Francesco instructs Rey to re-cut the film to make Cal the new star. Porfiry questions Rey about his time in the asylum, and Rey recounts how his start in the business as an editor for acclaimed art house director Umberto Fantori, Bella's father, whose debut film The Mirror and the Guillotine earned him critical acclaim and introduced him to his wife, star Josephine Jardin. When his wife was fired by Mancini on her next film, the pressures of editing Fantori's next project, the world's longest film, mounted and Rey accidentally cut off his own fingers in a fit of madness. What Rey doesn't tell him is that he's found what appears to be footage of the murders, taken by an unknown third party. The interview over, Rey returns to work in the editing suite with Bella, where she confesses her love for him, but Rey resists her because he is married. Porfiry, meanwhile, is introduced to Cal's girlfriend Jasmine, who reveals that the two were once lovers. Porfiry remains oblivious to the bladed instruments in Cal's car.
O'Connor berates Porfiry over Margarit's death, and the killer calls him at the station to taunt him. Porfiry convinces O'Connor into supporting a plan where Giancarlo goes undercover as the new editor on Tarantola. Rey meanwhile, has been suffering from blackouts and hallucinations, and finding a bloodied shirt in his editing suite, begins to suspect himself as the killer. Mancini fires him and replaces him with Giancarlo, Rey dejectedly returns home to find Josephine obsessively watching Cal's demo tape. Burning the bloodied shirt in the kitchen sink, Rey begins having strange, otherworldly visions involving Bella; glimpsing a Lovecraftian netherworld filled with massive film reels and boiling tar. Bella meanwhile, finds the footage of the murders. Watching it, she is murdered by the killer; an act echoed in Rey's vision. He rushes to the studio, but arrives too late.
Trying to complete the film without any prior filmmaking knowledge, Giancarlo is beset by venomous tarantulas in the editing suite and is disemboweled by the killer. Over-schedule and over-budget, Mancini rehires Rey to finish the film, Rey revealing that he'd already completed his assembly cut before being fired. Mancini is ecstatic and the film is saved. Porfiry, convinced Rey is the killer, confronts Father Clarke, who tries to tell him his conviction is misguided. He explains an old, Roman-era superstition that editors were believed to be bridges to the netherworld.
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Amy McKenna is a senior editor, primarily focused on geography and history matters pertaining to sub-Saharan Africa. She joined Encyclopaedia Britannica in 2004. She was previously employed by Standard Educational Corporation, where she worked on the New Standard Encyclopedia for eight years.
Barbara Schreiber is an Editorial Assistant at Encyclopædia Britannica. She graduated cum laude from Saint Xavier University, Chicago, with a B.A. degree in Mass Communications. She also holds a M.A. degree in English Literature from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She worked at the John G. Shedd Aquarium prior to joining the editorial staff at Britannica in 2001.
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MP Dunleavey is an award-winning personal finance journalist and author. For several years she was the Cost of Living columnist for The New York Times, covering real-life financial, behavioral finance, and investing issues. She was also the founding editor-in-chief of DailyWorth.com, the first financial e-newsletter for women.
Michael Ray oversees coverage of European history and military affairs for Britannica. He earned a B.A. in history from Michigan State University in 1995. He was a teacher in the Chicago suburbs and Seoul, South Korea, prior to joining Britannica as a freelancer in 2000 and a full-time copy editor in 2003.
Pat Bauer graduated from Ripon College in 1977 with a double major in Spanish and Theatre. She spent most of the next 42 years working as a copy editor and editor at Encyclopaedia Britannica. She retired in 2021 but was unable to break the habit and now works as a freelance editor.
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Emma joined Nature in 2019. Before that she was a reporter and editor at Chemistry World, covering research, publishing, science policy and reviews. Emma has a degree in biological sciences from the University of Oxford.
David joined Nature in October 2016 from The British Medical Journal, where he was online editor. His journalism career began in 1990 as a general news reporter on a local evening newspaper. He then worked for UK GP magazine Pulse, Nursing Times, and The Food Standards Agency, where he managed its website and print publications. David has a degree in English and a postgraduate diploma in journalism. david.payne#nature.com
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