Archive for Dario Argento

L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970)

Posted in Debut Week, Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Dario Argento

Writers: Dario Argento

Fredric Brown

Tagline: A stunning portrait in psycho-terror!

Plot: A writer is stalked by a serial killer after witnessing a murder attempt on one woman’s life.

Cast: Tony Musante – Sam Dalmas

Suzy Kendall – Julia

Enrico Maria Salerno – Inspector Morosini

Eva Renzi – Monica Ranieri

Umberto Raho – Alberto Ranieri

Review:

L’uccelo dalle piume di cristallo (or The Bird with the Crystal Plummage as it’s translated in English) is the directing debut of one of the most interesting Horror directors, Dario Argento. It is also the first part of his “animal trilogy” (the other 2 movies are Il Gatto a Nove Code (1971) – The Cat o’ Nine Tails and 4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio (1971) – The Four Velvet Flies). Even very early in his carrier Argento showed a natural talent for directing horror movies so The Bird with the Crystal Plumage didn’t disappoint me at all.

The movie’s plot is a simple “Argentian” story. It is about a man who witnesses a murder attempt and now is being stalked by a serial killer. Actually, many elements you see during this movie are also present in Argento’s later masterpiece, Profondo Rosso. In both movies the protagonist is an artist, who is from (or has been to) America, who witnessed a murder/murder attempt and is trying to recall clues from his memory, in both movies there is a serial killer involved in the whole story and most important of all, the twist at the end of both movies is very similar. So if you watched any of those two first, you could find the second one to be a little “predictable”. But don’t let that back you off! Both Profondo Rosso and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage are very amusing experiences you should check out furthermore if you haven’t already.

So besides some elements I have seen before, Argento’s directing debut offers much more. First of all, it has a very decent and slightly depressive atmosphere which was accomplished by nice luminance and amazing camera angles. Some of the best camera angles from the movie were the killer’s point of view (one of Argento’s trademarks) and the point of view of a man falling down the building (which was accomplished by actually throwing the camera down the building :] ).What I particularly liked in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was some intelligent humor now and then, a nice bonus to the movie’s overall feeling. The kills were also done very well, especially the first murder attempt which was the highlight of the movie. The interesting soundtrack, composed by Ennio Morricone, is worth mentioning too. It excellently fits the 70s Italian horror atmosphere.

Argento put in his first movie many interesting but, unfortunately, undeveloped characters played by amateur actors. Because of this I think the movie could have been even better, if it wasn’t Dario’s directing debut and if he had a bigger budget, due to the fact it had a big potential. So the bad acting and character development might be The Bird with the Crystal Plummage’s biggest flaws. Yeah, I also have to mention some parts of the movie seemed a little unnecessary and pointless (like when our protagonist is being chased by a man with the yellow jacket who is trying to kill him) but that’s not that huge of a deal. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is far from being a classic but it surely is above average. You should give it a watch if you are interested in horror/thriller movies and especially Dario Argento.

My Rating: 7/10… Argento’s directing debut turned out to be a very good experience.

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Phenomena (1985)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Dario Argento

Writer: Dario Argento

Franco Ferrini

Tagline: Jennifer Has A Few Million Close Friends. She’s Going To Need Them All.

Plot: A young girl, with an amazing ability to communicate with insects, is transferred to an exclusive Swiss boarding school, where her unusual capability might help solve a string of murders.

Cast: Jennifer Connelly – Jennifer Corvino

Daria Nicolodi – Frau Brückner

Dalila Di Lazzaro – Headmistress

Patrick Bauchau – Inspector Rudolf Geiger

Donald Pleasence – Professor John McGregor

Review (spoilers):

I must admit I haven’t seen all Dario Argento’s movies (far from that) but some of his movies (like Profondo Rosso & Suspiria) left me simply breathless. They are genuine masterpieces. I wish I could have said that about Phenomena too. What I love most about Argento is that you don’t know what to expect of his movies, you just can’t predict the direction in which will they go. This wasn’t the case with Phenomena, because while I was watching it I wasn’t able to shake this feeling that I already seen all of it somewhere before. It was full of elements that can also be seen in Suspiria (the luminance at some parts),  Nightmare On Elm Street (the concept with troubled sleep and doctors on the operating table) & Carrie (the troubled girl with supernatural powers).  In addition to that, I haven’t found the idea of communicating with bugs to be thrilling at all. Those communications occur only 3 or 4 times during the movie and I felt like they are being used in such a wrong way. It seemed their purpose was to be used as a Deus ex machina. I was expecting that the ability of communication with bugs would move the plot around. Instead, I felt like that ability was part of some sub plot just waiting to be exposed in a grand finale at the end of the movie, and it was.  As you may conclude, the whole script writing could have been a little better.

However, don’t get the wrong idea. Phenomena is far from being a bad movie….or from being a good movie. It’s just average. The best thing in this movie was the atmosphere at some time. It was dark and even depressive from time to time….Only to be eventually ruined by a horrible soundtrack. I forgot to mention that before. The soundtrack of Phenomena is simply awful, I just combine Argento with heavy metal bands (like Iron Maiden & Motorhead) whose songs are played really too loud. Apparently there is a movie cut in which the heavy metal soundtracks are deleted. So if you are going to watch Phenomena try looking for that cut (it’s called Creepers).  Now that I’m speaking again about the bad aspects  of this movie, I just have to mention that monkey. Yes, Phenomena has a monkey in it which purpose is also being a Deus ex machina but I won’t spoil that part, al though it was…ridiculous.

Now I really have to say something good about this movie : ). It isn’t bad at all if you like watching slashers with some unnatural parts in them since the murders in Phenomena were done really good. I also liked the gore in some scenes. However, that wasn’t enough to entertain a consumer like me, just not my cup of tea. Apart from all that, I have to mention that the script isn’t a complete failure, there even were some twist that you might find interesting.

To conlude everything I must say that Phenomena is a movie you should definitely give a try, I’m not saying it’s worth it but all in all it’s an experience you won’t soon forget, despite I found it to be pretty bad.

My Rating: 5/10… I was really expecting a little more from Dario Argento.

Profondo Rosso (1975)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Dario Argento

Writers: Dario Argento (written by)

Bernandino Zapponi (screenplay)

Tagline: The maker of “SUSPIRIA” now takes you on a journey through the macabre, the bizarre. . . the unnatural.

Plot: A musician witnesses the murder of a famous psychic, and then teams up with a fiesty reporter to find the killer while evading attempts on their lives by the unseen killer bent on keeping a dark secret buried.

Cast: David Hemmings – Marcus Daly

Daria Nicolodi – Gianna Brezzi

Gabriele Lavia – Carlo

Macha Meril – Helga Ulmann

Eros Pagni – Supt. Calcabrini

Review:

Everyone who knows a little about Dario Argento and his movies, knows that the tagline of this one is retarded because Suspiria was made after Profondo Rosso.  But ofc Suspiria was so famous at it’s time that Profondo Rosso was even promoted in some countries like Suspiria 2, a sequel, but no matter. I’m not here to compare those 2, both of them are masterpieces which you must watch if you haven’t already.

Anyways, up to the review. One may ask what does exactly make Profondo Rosso so good? My first reply would be: music! Yeap, the soundtrack made by an experimental italian rock band that goes by the name Goblin. They were one of the best bands from their era and Argento relies on them very much in his movies. They are one more thing you must check out before you die. Their sounds give the movie some additional depth and I just can’t explain the feeling which followed me during their songs.  Also, many times in the movie you’ll hear a freaky children’s nursery rhyme which freaked me out.  All of it was perfectly combined in the movies atmosphere.

My second reply would be: camera angles! Argento uses them in some strange ways which can’t be so easily explained, you have to see them for yourself. They are somehow deep, sometimes uncomfortable but you have the feeling that everything is so close to you, that you can almost touch anything. I was simply blown away by some scenes in the movie, especially by those camera angles. I couldn’t believe that some of Argento’s ideas could be so simple and complicated at the same time. Truly genuine.

My third reply would be:  story! Combine the awesome effective audio/video experience with a nice story which is believable and actually makes some sense. There are some nice twists in it. Very early in the movie the plot tries to play tricks with your mind, so you could say that is full of mind fucks (in a good way). If you don’t believe the words that I say, check out Profondo Rosso, you won’t be sorry. While watching it you’ll have a feeling that you are directly in it, it will suck you in!

And here you go, you have Profondo Rosso ( or Deep Red – the english translation ). Just remember, this much more than your average slasher, it’s a masterpiece.

I hope I interested you a little in watching this movie, I know my arguments may be a little too general or shallow ( because it’s really hard for me to say everything that’s on my mind ) but you’ll see for yourself if you give it a try.

My Rating: 10/10 … A must watch classic!