Italian director Argento has a way with art and colorful imagery that tingles the senses in so many ways that even a person who is NOT a fan of the genre could appreciate his films. I remember directly after watching Profondo Rosso going out and buying as many Argento flicks that I could find in the area. With some steaks on the grill and some good beer and friends surrounding me we set out on a venture, not out and about but in my living room watching and analyzing his work. This is my top 5 list of THE BEST of Dario Argento!
5. Cat O’Nine Tails
I remember this was the first movie I found after I was gifted Profondo Rosso. It was the only copy in the store and the only Argento movie at the time to be found around my area. It starts off with this…. Melodic…. Almost lullaby-ish style music that draws you in with sweet thoughts of puppy dogs and rainbows…. 5 min in we're treated with the more creepy sounding music that Argento is known to have in his films. The movie revolves around an older gentleman Franco “cookie” Arno(Karl Malden), blind; who has his niece that lives with him and helps him out around the house. The beginning scene is Cookie walking with his niece down the street and he senses something isn’t right, he KNOWS there is a car behind him in which he sensed the presence of a person, he then asks the young girl to check and identify the people in the car. She does so and explains that there were in fact 2 people in the vehicle as they are walking away.
Walking down the street the next day he runs into a reporter who informs him there was a robbery at that building the night before. He starts to see a pattern. On the third day his niece brings in the news paper and informs him that one of the men she saw in the vehicle had died by falling onto the train tracks and being crushed by a train, after that he decides to contact the reporter and speak with him about the situation. They start noticing more and more patterns and more people start turning up dead. This is giallo at its finest! Cat O’Nine Tails was shot in 1971 and featured Argento’s most BARE work. This is one of the films he shot before his hallucinatory phase before he started using bright and vibrant colors and stabbing scores. This movie was one of the first giallos I have seen but wasn’t the last by any means. I highly suggest it if you are a fan of giallo or a fan of Argento in general.
Starring John Saxxon of A Nightmare on Elm St and Daria Nicolodi of Profondo Rosso (also Dario's wife... you lucky S.O.B ). The film revolves around writer Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa ) who on a trip to Rome is immediately confronted by 2 local homicide detectives. They explain that there has been a murder and ask if he knew the woman that was brutally sliced in her flat. When he says that he has just now arrived in Rome for the first time in his life and inquires why they would be questioning him the police explain that pages of his book were shoved into the mouth of his victim and that the victim was sliced viciously with a straight razor just like in his novel.
The phone rings and Peter answers to find the killer on the other line. The killer recites lines from the book. One of the detectives picks up the phone to hear the killer ask who Peter Neal is up there with because he can see him through the window. When the detective realizes the killer is close he runs down to street level to see if he can find the killer but there is no body there. This is one of Argentos finest works with the stabbing score composed by Goblin, the gory death scenes, and the amazing finale that makes you go “hmmm.... I did NOT know that was going to happen”. Being number 4 on the list doesn't sell it short by any means. I suggest you see this A.S.A.P if you want to see a true master at work.
3. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage
The film follows Sam(Tony Musante), an American in Italy who happens to bare witness to an attempted murder. But Sam isn't sure just what he's seen because a vital piece of information has left his memory. It doesn't add up. Since the local authorities on the case won't allow him to leave the country anyway, Sam decides to do a little investigating on his own. Of course, snooping leads him into some dark places and puts him in contact with some shady sources. Not only that, it's apparent that someone wants him out of the picture.
This was Argento's first film and he gave it his all. He showed us a whole new take on the who-dun-it genre and gave us a more horrific feel to the style. Filmed in 1970 also based in Rome shows Argento's love for the beauty of his homeland . Being most of his films are shot in his home country but appeal to the American/English crowd all of his films were shot in English. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, although not his best work, is still an intriguing and well-made movie. The acting is good, the score excellent and the twist is sure to surprise you. This is highly recommended for Argento fans and fans of Giallo in
Suspiria is the story of a young girl who travels to Germany to attend a prestigious ballet academy. Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives on a late and stormy night to the school where she sees what appears to be another woman running for her life through the woods. Turning back to the door she rings the bell once more only to be told by the person on the other end that she must leave. She decides to stay at a hotel for the night and try back again in the morning. This scene takes over with the person who Suzy had seen running through the woods now in her apartment where she is talking to a friend. Some moments later she feels that she is being watched and we are treated to an amazing murder sequence. The next day Suzy returns to the school and is welcomed graciously and starts to notice some strange things going on almost immediately. Through out her stay she will embark on a journey of the senses to solve the puzzles that plague her and her fellow students. What will become of her and her peers? Watch and see.
Shot in 1977 this is Argento's first in his hallucinatory Three Mothers trilogy. This is where the music and colors really made his films stand out. Vibrant colored lighting as well as a score out of this world make this one of his finer and most known films to date. This is also where he took on a more supernatural approach with his films. This is STILL a Giallo but it deals with witchcraft and other supernatural goings on. If you are interested in a sensory explosion this movie is definitely for you. If you are a fan of Giallo this movie is for you. This movie will leave you on the edge of your seat until the very end. And with that being said I end you with the best tagline for a movie ever. “The Only Thing More Terrifying Than The Last 12 Minutes Of This Film Are The First 92“
1. Profondo Rosso (Deep Red)
A psychic; Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril) picks up the thoughts of a murderer in the audience and soon becomes a victim. A Musician; Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) witnesses the murder from the road and quickly runs up to try and save her. The killer is no longer in the apartment but Marcus looks out the window to see some dark figure running through the street. He goes down to try and find the killer but they are no where to be seen he runs into a drunk buddy of his. Marcus asks his friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia) if he had seen the killer. Carlo explains that he saw no one but that Marcus should mind his own business. Marcus calls the police and explains what he saw and what he didn't see at the murder scene. He starts to feel like he should know more than he does.... that there may have been something he saw but cant quite put his finger on it.
Marcus decides to take matters into his own hands in solving the puzzle but when his leads and friends start dropping like flies he starts to wonder If the killer isn't inside of his head. This is by FAR my favorite Argento flick. When I first saw this movie I wont lie... I watched it alone on a dark stormy night when I was 20 and it actually scared me. Not so much jump out scares but the atmosphere of it was very creepy. The music was in your face; another great score by Goblin. The acting was terrific and the story is amazing. This is truly Argento's masterpiece.
If you haven't seen an Argento flick I suggest you go out and find these movies. You will be treated to some of the best camera work, editing, story, music, and all around fun. Dario Argento is one of my favorite directors and is very underrated. I believe that his films should never be remade by any means because in my opinion they are perfect. However it is rumored that the zombie king himself; George A. Romero, is in talks to work on a 3D remake of Deep Red. All I can say is lets hope not. But when the time comes. That's a whole different review.
Story by Bidite writer David Foskey