Archive for Flavio Bucci

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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NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS (1975) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, Italy, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2012 by goregirl

Last year I posted my top 10 favourite horror films for each year of the 1970s. When I posted my top ten for 1975 in March 2011 I had not seen Night Train Murders; now this is my second viewing of Aldo Lado’s intense film. I suppose I should mention that Night Train Murders is a blatant rip-off of Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. Director Aldo Lado actually discusses it in an interview included on the DVDs special features. I’m not going to bust Lado over it since Last House on the Left is basically a modern horror version of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring written by Ulla Isaksson. So now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s move on to the immensely talented Aldo Lado. Lado is no stranger to my favourite lists; his outstanding Giallo efforts Short Night of Glass Dolls and Who Saw Her Die made my favourite films of 1971 and 1972 respectively. Too bad I hadn’t seen Night Train Murders before making my 1975 list, because it definitely would have made the cut!

Teenagers Lisa and Margaret are travelling together by train to stay with Lisa’s parents for the Christmas holidays. The girls giggle and talk about boys, smoke cigarettes and flirt with a pair of delinquents named Blackie and Curly. Much to their chagrin the girls end up in a train car with Blackie and Curly who have hooked up with an older distinguished looking woman. Blackie and Curly are petty thieves and shit disturbers but nudged on by the mysterious woman they cross a line. How far will they go?

We are given a brief introduction to each of the central characters before the train is boarded. We see the girls interacting with Margaret’s parents as they are getting ready to go to the station. We meet Lisa’s parents on the verge of a divorce but ever so polite to one another. We see Curly and Blackie robbing someone and escaping and than slicing a woman’s fur coat up the back just for laughs. We meet the mystery woman buying a fancy bag from a boutique and saying good-bye to an attractive man before boarding the train. Night Train Murders is well-paced throughout building its story up gradually to its violent climax.

Night Train Murders is a slick-looking film with a wonderfully cloying atmosphere. I dug how Lado moves between scenes of the girl’s on the train and scenes of Lisa’s parents; Professor Giulio Stradi and his unhappy wife Laura. Ennio Morricone’s score is perfect and I particularly enjoyed how he incorporated Curly’s harmonica playing into the music. There are strong performances from the entire cast. Lisa played by Laura D’Angelo and Margaret played by Irene Miracle were likable and natural and had good chemistry making them easy to empathize with. Flavio Bucci and Gianfranco De Grassi who plays Blackie and Curly are a couple of bastards to be sure. Blackie is the more aggressive of the duo and Curly is a harmonica-playing addict who is along for the ride. As obnoxious as these two are I almost felt a little bit of pity for them in the end. The real villain of the film is Macha Méril who plays the lady on the train. In an early scene she is in a crowded train car and reaches for her bag knocking it over and revealing some of its contents. Amoung them are several photographs of naked men and women. It turns out that our attractive well-dressed woman is some what of a pervert, or a nymphomaniac or a government employee; in any case, she is certainly a sociopath. She was an extremely intriguing addition. The finale Lado gives Méril’s character is knowingly frustrating but I loved it! Enrico Maria Salerno and Marina Berti who play Lisa’s parents Giulio and Laura Stradi both do a decent job also.

Night Train Murders has its share of uncomfortable and impressive moments of intensity. The girls are humiliated, violated and brutalized and the scenes are well-executed and horrifying. If you are familiar with the aforementioned Last House on the Left and/or The Virgin Spring than you have probably guessed there is a revenge twist. For everyone else the revenge twist in the films finale is brutal, unforgiving and disheartening. The finale will be sure to irritate some but I thought it was perfect. Night Train Murders is so stylishly presented you almost forget you are watching an exploitation flick. Despite the fact Night Train Murders “borrows” its premise I nonetheless thought it was pretty bloody great! Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Aldo Lado

Starring: Flavio Bucci, Macha Méril, Gianfranco De Grassi, Enrico Maria Salerno, Marina Berti, Franco Fabrizi, Irene Miracle, Laura D’Angelo