Archive for inferno

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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That Sly Come Hither Stare…It’s Witchcraft!

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2012 by goregirl

Don’t forget November is Psycho-Delic 60s month! I will be reviewing only horror films from the 1960s and posting a top ten list for each year of the decade. I have watched a spectacular amount of films from the 1960s in the past few weeks. I’ve seen well over half of the decade’s horror films thus far. As well as watching titles I have not seen, I am re-watching films that I have not seen since starting this blog (going on almost 4 bloody years!). I will go into specifics on the stats when I post my first top ten list in November. It turns out films about witches and witchcraft were kind of a popular subject in the 1960s. Six titles on this list are from the decade! I would say there is a better than average chance you will see these six films on my top ten list for its corresponding year. A special mention to Witchfinder General which is a film about a witch hunter who doesn’t actually kill any witches. I highly recommend Witchfinder General but I figured I would stick to films that actually had a witch (or witches) in them. Let us begin the bewitching!

VIY (1967)

Directed By: Georgi Kropachyov & Konstantin Yershov

I just posted a review for Viy yesterday! To read my review of this fabulous and funky folklore tale click here.

NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (aka Burn Witch Burn) (1962)

Directed By: Sidney Hayers

My first and so far only viewing of Night of the Eagle was just last week! I rather like its alternate title Burn Witch Burn; but having seen the film really either name is appropriate enough. A teacher ripe for a senior position and well liked by his peers discovers his wife is practicing black magic. She believes she has been responsible for her husband’s success. When hubby insists on burning all her black magic trinkets she fears the worst. Night of the Eagle has an intriguing well-written story, good performances, and great visuals that kept me bewitched throughout.

HAXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES (1922)

Directed By: Benjamin Christensen

As its name suggests, Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages is a documentary about witchcraft through the ages. It is a series of artistic interpretations and reenactments of rituals and witch hunts and the like. The Devil played by the film’s director Benjamin Christensen looks convincingly creepy and the witches cavorting with the dark lord whilst performing all manner of sacrilege must have caused quite the controversy in 1922! Haxan is downright fascinating, visually arresting and utterly hypnotizing.

BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

Directed By: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez

Blair Witch Project is the story of three film students who set out to make a documentary about the titular “Blair Witch”. It isn’t like a film had never been made with a hand-held camera before, but the success of the Blair Witch Project certainly started a trend of nausea-inducing handheld camera work. I have read several reviews tearing Blair Witch Project a new asshole, but I actually liked this film a lot. I mentioned in my intro that I was going to include films with witches actually in them. You could argue this film does not qualify, but I think whether or not you actually see the “Blair Witch” is left up to the viewer. The film has a nice steady build up and a great mood and tension. I must admit, my home viewing of Blair Witch Project did not live up to my theatre experience but I enjoy it nonetheless.

SUSPIRIA (1977) & INFERNO (1980)

Directed By: Dario Argento

Suspiria’s plot revolves around Suzy a new student at a dance academy. The prestigious dance academy is of course run by a coven of witches. Suspiria has appeared on many lists on this blog. I am a huge fan of Suspiria! Suspiria is an incredibly beautiful film. Inventive camera work, beautiful colors, and of course impressively staged death scenes, an excellent cast and epic soundtrack are the icing on the cake. Suspiria is a bonafide horror masterpiece and is the first in Dario Argento’s “three mothers” trilogy. The second section of the “three mothers” trilogy is Inferno. 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. Inferno is a brilliant although pretty convoluted follow-up to Suspiria. The cinematography, lighting, fantastic surreal sets and beautifully bizarre and nasty images are a feast for the eyes. Mother of Tears is the third part of the trilogy. I am hesitant to recommend Mother of Tears; although it has its moments I found it rather disappointing.

BABA YAGA (1973)

Directed By: Corrado Farina

This is not the child-eating Baba Yaga of Slavic lore. Director Corrado Farina’s film Baba Yaga was inspired by the comic strip art of Guido Crepex’s surreal and sexy adventures of Valentina. In this adventure the sassy photographer has a run-in with a witch. Wild dream sequences, Nazis, executions, a kinky doll-lady; it is not surprising that the lines between dream and reality become blurred for Valentina! Baba Yaga is a stylish, surreal, strange, sexy and beautiful 70’s pop art time capsule.

THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN (1963)

Directed By: Rafael Baledón

There was quite the surge of horrors films that came out of Mexico in the 1960s. There are some damn fine gems among them too. The Curse of the Crying Woman is one of two entries on this particular list. Amelia accepts an invitation to visit with her Aunt Selma who she has not seen in many years. Amelia notices a change in her aunt and soon finds out that she may have had sinister reasons for inviting her. The Curse of the Crying Woman is a rich but simple folklore yarn of witchcraft, curses and evil. Beautifully gothic visuals, wonderful sets, interesting characters, creative effects, and a sinister mood that will keep you mesmerized.

THE WITCH’S MIRROR (1962)

Directed By: Chano Urueta

The Witch’s Mirror is the second horror film hailing from Mexico. Mad science, a vengeful wife, possessed hands and the black arts makes for one spirited watch! I love it! Director Chano Urueta includes elements of several other horror films into his story; the final result of which ends up being something quite unique. The second half of this film is a wild ride, and there is plenty to keep you occupied getting there. The Witch’s Mirror has one of the most entertaining finales ever! Some of the effects are a little on the hokey side but they are pretty damn fun and they certainly are creative! This great, black and white gothic tale of witchcraft is a serious shitload of awesome!

CITY OF THE DEAD (1960)

Directed By: John Llewellyn Moxey

City of the Dead is about a college student prompted by her professor to do research in a tiny village and discovers a coven of witches. City of the Dead is a beautiful, atmospheric black and white horror film that is effectively eerie. From City of the Dead’s outstanding witch hunt scene to its exciting and intense finale the film is truly a gothic delight. Top notch performances and an engrossing well-written story. Although Christopher Lee receives top billing on my copy of the DVD, he actually has a supporting role and limited screen time. Lee is super fantastic but Patricia Jessel sorta steals his thunder with her dual roles and wonderfully mad cackle. A gem.

BLACK SUNDAY (1960)

Directed By: Mario Bava

Black Sunday is yet another film that has appeared on several lists on this blog; and it will not be the last. I absolutely love everything about this film! It is the story of a witch put to death by her own brother who returns 200 years later to seek revenge on her descendants. The stunning Barbara Steele takes on dual roles as Princess Asa Vajda and Katia Vajda and she is simply stunning, sweet and terrifying. One of Mario Bava’s best; Black Sunday is deliciously gothic, well-acted, beautifully filmed, eerie and atmospheric.