Archive for Deep Red

Favourite Five Series: DARIO ARGENTO

Posted in Favourite Five Series, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2013 by goregirl

My Favourite Five Series continues with director Dario Argento. Argento has 23 director credits on IMDB. I have seen all of Argento’s directorial efforts with the exception of the 2012 film Dracula 3D. It has been getting more and more difficult to be enthusiastic about Argento’s films as the years go by. The 70s and 80s were his high years, but he did produce a few intriguing efforts in the 90s also. Just the same, Argento’s name is still one of the first that comes to mind when I think of genre favourites. The following five films have endured multiple viewings and still shine with the lustre of a million jewel-filled treasure chests. Argento’s stylish visuals are what makes his unique, surreal, violent, sexy, dreamy-nightmarish and horrifying world so bloody special.

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DEEP RED (1975)

Deep Red has long been not only a favourite Argento film but an all time favourite horror film period. It has had a place on my top 100 favourites of all time for as long as that list has existed. As a matter of fact the same can be said for the next two Argento films listed here. Deep Red boasts Argento’s unique and stylish visuals; prolonged shots of inanimate objects like windows, shots around corners and weird angles. The man can make the most mundane of objects eerie. It is packed with interesting and unique set pieces; especially appealing is a collection of odd toys. Love the faceless yarn Wicker Man-esque doll with pins in its chest and of course this guy…

Deep Red2

The score for Deep Red is fantastic. The performances are great. David Hemmings plays a pianist who lives below the film’s first murder victim and witnesses her death. He is a pianist not a detective and he trips and bumbles his way to the end with a likable and natural turn. Daria Nicolodi does a solid job as an aggressive liberated journalist/reporter who works with Hemmings to solve the mystery. The twist and finale are one of Argento’s finest. Argento offers plenty of variety with the death, from hatchet, to scalding, to decapitation. Argento’s flawless Gialli is a Classic!

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TENEBRE (1982)

While all of Argento’s films feature creative death sequences Tenebre is one of his most graphic entries containing more violence and nudity than his previous offerings. Author Peter Neal has travelled to Italy to promote his latest book Tenebre. When he arrives at his temporary lodgings he is greeted by two police detectives. A local woman has been found slashed to death by a straight razor with several pages of his new book shoved into her mouth. This is only the beginning in a string of Tenebre inspired murders. As the bodies continue to pile up around him, Neal unwillingly becomes involved in the case and even does a little detective work of his own. Tenebre boasts plenty of twists and turns in what may be Argento’s most plot-driven offering. The Giallo features are firmly intact with red-herrings, black leather gloves and death most beautiful. There are several well-executed death sequences including a particularly impressive crane shot of the outside of a house that follows a busty woman in various states of undress whose life inevitably comes to a brutal end. There is also a dog attack, strangulation, stabbing, axing and razor slashing. There is also an outstanding reoccurring dream/flashback sequence of a woman in a white dress wearing red pumps. The viewer doesn’t know which character is having the vision, but the woman in the white dress clearly torments them and is central to the plot.

Tenebre

Anthony Franciosa is excellent as Peter Neal and Daria Nicolodi gives an amiable performances as his assistant. The two have great chemistry. The supporting cast give sweet support; John Saxon who plays Neal’s sleazy agent, Lara Wendel who plays Maria, the landlord’s jailbait daughter and Christian Borromeo who plays errand boy Gianni. Tenebre is a well-filmed, suspenseful and gory horror-thriller complimented by a brilliant score composed by ex-Goblin members Morante, Pignatelli and Simonetti. Tenebre is top drawer horror entertainment.

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SUSPIRIA (1977)

Suspiria is Dario Argento’s best known film and for good reason. It is without a doubt his most impressive film visually; particularly his epic use of color. Suspiria is the first installment in Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy. The plot revolves around Suzy a new student at a prestigious dance academy run by a coven of witches. Inventive camera work, beautiful colors, impressively staged death scenes, an excellent cast and epic soundtrack are the icing on the cake.

Suspiria

Suspiria Without a doubt is one of the most beautiful horror films ever made; a truly stunning nightmare! There is pitch-perfect mood and a feeling of unease established from the moment Suzy Bannion arrives at the Ballet school that doesn’t let up until the final Credits. Its beauty is quite remarkable but is only one of its impressive qualities. Suspiria is claustrophobic, intense, suspenseful and thrilling. Suspiria is a bona fide horror masterpiece.

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INFERNO (1980)

Inferno, Dario Argento’s second installment in the “Three Mothers” trilogy is one of his best and most under-appreciated flicks. The story moves from a prestigious dance school in Germany to an apartment building in the USA. An architect named Varelli built separate dwellings for the three mothers in Rome, Freiberg and New York. Writer Rose Elliot acquires a tome entitled The “Three Mothers”; a trio of sisters who ruled the world with darkness and sorrow. Rose believes her current dwelling to be the former home of one of the sisters. An investigation of the building reveals horrors that appear to inspire a chain of violent events. Easily one of Argento’s most gorgeous films it does not let down in the horror category either. Anyone who appreciates Argento’s style should rank Inferno high among their favorites. The colors, shadows, hidden passages, black gloved-killers, amazing sets and especially the superb underwater sequence are just a few of its notable assets.

Inferno

Inferno is a visual extravaganza; the cinematography, lighting, fantastic surreal sets and beautifully bizarre and nasty images linger in the mind for days on end. Inferno is truly a feast for the eyes; sit back and let it wash over you with its dream logic.

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The above four films have long been favourite Argento flicks but choosing a fifth was rather a bitch. I re-watched The Stendhal Syndrome, Opera, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Phenomena before making this list as I gave all four of these Argento entries a 4/5 rating. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was the nicest looking film visually, The Stendhal Syndrome had the most intriguing story and Phenomena had the best effects but in the end it was Opera and its gore that won my heart and a spot on this list.

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OPERA (1987)

Performing Macbeth is believed to bring bad luck. The urban legend appears to be true after the lead of a modern operatic version of the play is hit by a car. The dead diva’s reluctant understudy Betty is brought in to replace her. The bad luck continues into opening night when a huge lighting fixtures falls from a balcony and a stagehand is killed. Alas the show must go on but at what price? Betty soon finds out after being assaulted. Betty is tied to a column, her mouth is taped shut and her eyes are forced open with needles. She has no choice but to watch the brutal killing of her boyfriend and is then freed. This sets the stage for a gory whodunnit featuring a masked killer, ravens, weird dream sequences, pulsing brains and memorable death scenes. The film’s ravens are used to great effect throughout and are pivotal to exposing the identity of the killer.

opera

The death scenes are all creative, bloody and grandly staged affairs. Specially notable and memorable is the perfectly executed bullet to the eye and a beautifully excessive stabbing death. The stunning opera house where most of the film takes place really is spectacular as are Argento’s countless trademark extended shots down hallways, up staircases not to mention a monumental dizzying birds-eye view. Opera has style in spades, but it does flounder just a touch in the substance category. Cristina Marsillach does a pretty good job with the wishy-washy character of Betty. Betty is downright useless for most of the film and really doesn’t do much of anything to help herself. I would have liked her character to have had a little more strength and depth. With the exception of Betty’s boyfriend who is as wishy-washy as she is, most of the supporting characters are actually far more interesting than Betty. Admittedly the killer’s identity isn’t much of a surprise although his motivation certainly was, and it left me sated nonetheless. The dream sequences are crazy cool and relevant to the plot so pay attention. I found the mix of opera and rock music interesting although the rock pieces do date the film; there is no mistaking this is a film from the late 1980s. Opera is perfectly paced and felt much shorter than its runtime and its visuals alone are easily worth the price of admission. A beautifully filmed, entertaining and energetic entry worthy of accolades.

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VIVA GIALLO: 10 Favourites for an October Moon

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2012 by goregirl

I did a guest post over at Anti-Film School of my Top Five Scariest Italian Horror Films. I yakked about how much I love Giallo and realized I had never really done a top 10 list of my favourites. I am going to use the same criteria as I did for my Anti-Film School list with one title per director so I can insure ten different directors are represented. Viva Giallo!

Deep Red (1975)

Directed By: Dario Argento

He is the maestro of murder, the master of deception, the connoisseur of color-distorters, the sweet whisperer of shadows, the conductor of the constantly moving camera, he is Dario Argento! My first foray into the world of Giallo started right here and I’ve never looked back. Hold on! I look back all the time! I’ve seen Deep Red more times than I can count on my fingers and toes! David Hemmings plays a pianist who lives below the films first victim and witnesses her death. Hemmings is perfectly cast as the pianist. He is not a detective, he’s a musician, and he charmingly trips, falls and bumbles his way through to the films conclusion. Daria Nicoldi does a solid job as an aggressive liberated journalist/reporter who works with Hemmings to solve the mystery. Death doesn’t get more stylish than this!

DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972)

Directed By: Lucio Fulci

The Godfather of Gore, the narrator of nightmares, the harbinger of horrors, the messenger of the macabre, the shepherd of the supernatural, and the luminary of the lens he is Lucio Fulci! When some local boys go missing and turn up dead in a small superstitious town practically everyone is a suspect. It twists, it turns, and it even shocks! The visuals are quite extraordinary and the performances are great particularly by the talented Florinda Bolkan who plays La Magiara a black magic practicing gypsy. There is an amazing mob scene that leaves me in awe every time I see it. Don’t Torture a Duckling is absolutely one of Fulci’s best and one of the best Giallo ever made!

THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS WARDH (1971)

Directed By: Sergio Martino

The ringmaster of red herrings, the taskmaster of twists, the squire of sexy, the baron of beauty, the superstar of scenery and set pieces, the captain of casting he is Sergio Martino. What is Mrs. Wardh’s strange vice? Mrs. Wardh likes men, and she also likes it a little rough and gets herself into a whole mess of trouble. It features the stunning Edwige Fenech, one of my favourite ladies of Giallo. The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh is sexy, beautiful, mysterious, thrilling, and violent! The finale is a trinity of twists that is oh, so satisfying! Exquisite!

TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (1971)

Directed By: Mario Bava

Who knows, there might not have ever been a director Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci or Sergio Martino if there had never been a Mario Bava. Mario Bava along with Riccardo Freda and Antonio Margheriti were the igniter’s of the horror inferno that would spread throughout Italy. Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Blood and Black Lace are widely acknowledged as forerunners to the Giallo surge of the early 70s. And than there is the crazy convoluted gem; Twitch of the Death Nerve. What a great freaking title! And if I haven’t credited Bava with enough, this film is considered by many to be the first slasher film. It has a massive body count and each death is unique and nasty fun! Twitch of the Death Nerve is an absolutely fantastic looking film with a death around every 10 minutes and more red herrings than you can shake a stick at it! A gothic mansion, a serene bay, and a pile of greedy dead bodies; it is all part of a complete breakfast. Bava-licious!

SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS (1971)

Directed By: Aldo Lado

I recently reviewed Aldo Lado’s excellent Night Train Murders, which is more straight up horror than my choice for this list. Short Night of Glass Dolls central character Gregory Moore’s seemingly lifeless body has been found. While his body appears lifeless his mind is working furiously to retrace his steps. We learn along with the character how he came to find himself in this predicament. This bloodless but engrossing tale has great suspense, an intriguing mystery and one hell of an ending! It also has a damn impressive cast featuring Jean Sorel, Ingrid Thulin and gorgeous Barbara Bach. Fantastic stuff!

RED QUEEN KILLS 7 TIMES (1972)

Directed By: Emilio Miraglia

Emilio Miraglia only directed six films and only two of those are horror-oriented Giallo. The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is pretty fun but Red Queen Kills 7 Times is the masterpiece of the duo. An old supernatural family curse about a red queen motivates the action which is plentiful and fantastic! Jam-packed with steamy Giallo sexpots who look frightfully similar to one another! Red Queen Kills 7 Times is sexy, suspenseful, frantic, the kills are a creative delight and the red queen is a simply fantastic character! Red Queen Kills 7 Times is just a shitload of fun!

SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS (1972)

Directed By: Umberto Lenzi

Seven Blood-Stained Orchids is bar none my favourite Umberto Lenzi film. A string of suspicious characters, inept cops and a glove wearing maniac coined “the half-moon killer” on account of the souvenir he leaves at the scene of the crime. Great looking cinematography and some imaginative murder scenes; including one of my all time faves that sees an artist killed and their blood mixing with paint. Violence, gore, nudity, above average performances and a bizarre and brilliant soundtrack. Some killer imagery and thrills that are not to be missed.

THE KILLER MUST KILL AGAIN (1975)

Directed By: Luigi Cozzi

To be honest, the only two films I’ve seen from Luigi Cozzi are the sketchy Starcrash and Contamination (which does have its moments). No matter, as he concocted a damn fine Giallo with The Killer Must Kill Again. It’s the story of an adulterer dirtbag who hires a killer to knock off his wife and a young couple that inadvertedly complicate the deal. This is a unique entry in the world of Giallo as we know who has committed the crime from the get go. Great suspense, wicked twists, creative visuals and Antoine St. John is just fantastic as the sinister killer. This guy has a face you don’t soon forget! St. John gets some solid support from Cristina Galbo, Femi Benussi, Eduardo Fajardo and George Hilton. An extremely satisfying Giallo!

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (1972)

Directed By: Massimo Dallamano

Massimo Dallamano only directed 12 films but he certainly has an interesting resume! The voyeuristic Venus in Furs, his sex-infused interpretation of Dorian Gray and his other brilliant Giallo What Have They Done to Your Daughters? But I am all about the What Have You Done To Solange? Twists and turns, shocking revelations, an outstanding finale and of course a bevy of beautiful ladies! The cinematographer is Joe D’amato who directed Antropophagus. D’amato’s work in this film is quite impressive. The great Ennio Morricone does the score and adds a perfect moody tension. An intriguing, sexy, enthralling mystery.

THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS (1972)

Directed By: Giuliano Carnimeo

I’m not very familiar with Guiliano Carnimeo’s work. He has directed a lot of Westerns; a genre in which I still have much to discover. I have seen only Fistful of Lead with George Hilton, which I enjoyed. The Case of the Bloody Iris illustrates why you shouldn’t move into an apartment where someone was murdered. Why don’t they ever learn? Another one starring the lovely and charismatic Edwige Fenech. A multitude of red herring and one of the wackiest bunch of oddball characters I’ve ever seen in a Giallo. Finding out how this bunch of bananas fit into the puzzle is a ton of fun. The Case of the Bloody Iris is a stylish, quirky, suspenseful Giallo!