Perhaps even more than
his American contemporaries, Italy's Dario
Argento enjoys widespread popularity on the Internet.
U.S. video companies have been slow to release his films on
and often when they are released, they are so badly chopped that
border on being unwatchable. As a result of this oversight, a thriving bootleg market for his
has erupted on the Web, with sites around the world selling
of his movies.
The legitimate video company Anchor Bay has recently started
some of his films uncut for the first time in the U.S., most
"Phenomena" and "Tenebre."
But his all-time best
movie, "Profondo Rosso"
(known in the U.S. as "Deep Red" and in Japan as "Suspiria 2")
remains unavailable, although a blurry, legal version of it
of was released about 10 years ago before going out of print. (cont'd below)
Argento got his start in moviemaking as one of the writers of the
1968 Sergio Leone western classic "Once Upon a Time in the
West." He was 28 at the time. A year later, he debuted as a director with the
interesting thriller "The Bird with the
Crystal Plumage." With elegant photography, great atmosphere, a silly mystery and a murderer who wears black
leather gloves, it qualified as a hard-hitting "giallo"
filma unique, violent
murder mystery genre that sprang from Italy and predated the
film craze that hit America in the late 1970s.
He followed "Bird" with two other giallo
films"Cat O' Nine Tales"
"Four Flies on Grey Velvet"before hitting his
stride with the supernatural and very gory "Profondo Rosso" (listed in
the Splatter 666 as "Deep Red").
One of the greatest splatter films of all time,
"Profondo" starred David
Hemmings (who had hit stardom in another murder mystery,
and introduced the world to the music of the gothic rock group
With Goblin's throbbing and loud rock score, a slightly
storyline, plenty of gore and Argento's twisted obsession with
evil, "Profondo" blew horror film fans away. At least
two versions are
in circulation: a nearly 120-minute Italian language print with
subtitles and a much shorter dubbed version. Many believe the
U.S. version is actually superior. The pace is quicker and
voice is featured (an Italian actor dubbed his voice for the
Argento followed up the success of "Deep Red" (also
known as "Hatchet
Murders" in the U.S.) with a landmark 1977 horror film that
the blueprint for all his later films: "Suspiria."
Goblin once again returned to supply the score. With bizarre
incredible photography, a Dolby stereo, surround-sound soundtrack
over-the-top gore, "Suspiria" was an international hit
andof all of
Argento's filmhas been released and re-released the most on
He followed up "Suspiria" with a sequel, "Inferno," which, badly cut for
its U.S. release, wasn't a success. A third film in the trilogy
announced but never filmed.
His later films never matched the cult success of either
"Deep Red," but they contained enough of the formula
elements of those
moviesrock music by Goblin members, black-gloved killers,
mystery plots, goreto satisfy the director's growing fan
He served as a creative consultant for George
Romero's "Dawn of the
Dead" and brought Goblin on board to supply the music
for that film.
He followed up
"Dawn" with the extremely gory "Tenebre" (pictured above). He also
co-directed an anthology film with Romero, entitled "Two Evil Eyes." One of the best "Argento" movies of all time wasn't
actually directed by him. The
1980s horror classic "Demons,"
which he co-wrote, featured all the great
Argento elements fans know and loveand then some. Directed
Bava, son of the Italian giallo great Mario Bava,
"Demons" is one of the
greatest splatter films of all time. It was far better than the
Argento-directed "Terror at
the Opera," a lesser effort that was
released shortly after.
Argento hasn't stopped making moviesor making them a family
married Daria Nicolodi, the female lead in "Deep Red,"
casting her in his movies, including the rather weak "Phenomena." In the mid-1990s he cast his gorgeous daughter, Asia, in a lead
the American-filmed murder mystery "Trauma,"
one of his better movies.
She was also featured in "The Stendhal Syndrome" and "Phantom of the
Opera," two very disappointing films that saw Argento steer clear of his
giallo roots. He returned to the fold with the well-received
But his greatest movies remain the ones he directed in the 1970s.
films helped inspire "Evil Dead,"
"Dressed to Kill" and
"Halloween," and earned
Argento a place in the history books as one of
splatterdom's all-time great filmmakers.
In 1994, he was honored for his efforts with a Lifetime
Award at the 2nd Montreal Festival International Cinema Fantastique.