“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Posts Tagged ‘Dario Argento’

Innocent Blood

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’m saying it now: when it comes to balancing horror and comedy, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is the goal. I mean, there ones I love just as much that I consider a little heavier on the goofiness, like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2, but AMERICAN WEREWOLF is that ideal where it’s a perfectly serious horror movie and also it’s funny because of the situations and the way the story is told, and neither quality takes away from the other, in fact they only enhance each other.

Well, what seemed like a million years later, but was actually only eleven, director John Landis did a far lesser known but confidently crafted horror-movie-that-is-funny, this time in the vampire realm. INNOCENT BLOOD tells the story of an out of control couple of nights in Pittsburgh when a well(ish)-intentioned bloodsucker named Marie (Anne Parillaud, LA FEMME NIKITA) decides to feed on the local mafia, and it turns into a big mess. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Suspiria (2018)

Monday, November 5th, 2018

SUSPIRI… uh…

Luca Guadagnino’s SUSPIRIA (2018) is technically a remake of Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA (1977), because it’s about an American named Susie Bannion going to a dance academy in Germany in 1977 where other students are turning up dead and weird shit is happening because it’s run by a coven of witches led by Mother Suspiriorum, The Mother of Sighs. But don’t expect to see any of the things you think of when you think of SUSPIRIA, like the colorful lighting, the maggots dropping from the ceiling or that room full of razor wire. Guadagnino (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) doesn’t use the same look or any specific scenes or story points, he just plays with the basic idea. Now there’s more intra-coven political stuff going on, as well as news coverage of Baader-Meinhof bombings and the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and a subplot about an old therapist looking for a patient who disappeared after telling him the school was run by witches, and also his wife (played by o.g. Susie Bannion Jessica Harper) disappeared during the war and he keeps thinking about her, and…

I mean it’s 52 minutes longer than the original so there’s alot more stuff going on. It bills itself as “Six Acts and an Epilogue in a Divided Berlin” (spoiler: actually should be Six Acts, an Epilogue, and a Brief, Uneventful Tag Near the End of the Credits). I appreciated the act breaks. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Inferno

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

This year has brought an avalanche of well-deserved attention to Dario Argento’s popsicle-colored opium nightmare of a Nancy Drew witchcraft mystery, SUSPIRIA (1977). With a new 4K restoration playing in some cities, a Blu-Ray finally on the horizon and somebody apparently having the audacity to do a remake, the film is being widely written about, discussed and discovered by a new generation.

No big surprise here: I tend to consider it Argento’s masterpiece. The combination of its boldly colorful stylization and rocking, growling, hissing, demonic incantation of a score by Goblin (their very best, in my opinion) put me in some sort of cinematic state of delirium where normal narrative logic is not necessary, or even desirable. SUSPIRIA is creepy in some deep subconscious way far beyond the tyrannical reach of sense or explicability.

But after watching them both many times over the years, including this week, I confess I’ve become more attached to Argento’s 1980 follow-up, INFERNO. Technically part two in a “Three Mothers” trilogy (it connects to the witch from SUSPIRIA and the one from MOTHER OF TEARS 27 years later), it works as its own surreal adventure. The score by Keith Emerson is crazy and bombastic by any standards other than being compared to Goblin. Argento, his SUSPIRIA production designer Giuseppe Bassan (SUPER FLY T.N.T.) and new cinematographer Romano Albani (PHENOMENA, TROLL, TERRORVISION) elaborate on the evil-DICK-TRACY red blue and green lighting and ornate furnishings. There’s alot of beautifully textured wallpaper designs and a door handle so artsy it becomes a danger; its pointy metal fronds catch on a character’s blouse during a chase, catching her like an animal in a trap.

It is my position, though, that INFERNO has a more involving mystery than SUSPIRIA, and even higher peaks of surrealism and violence. I’m not here to argue that it’s better, but just to encourage you to see it if you haven’t, and confer with you about it if you have. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Mother of Tears

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

tn_motheroftearsMOTHER OF TEARS was Dario Argento’s backburner project for years. I never really watched them close enough together to pick up on it, but SUSPIRIA and INFERNO were supposed to be about sister witches, and he always meant to make one about the third sister. Unfortunately he didn’t get it made until 2007, long after he stopped being a reliable filmatist, so most people were not impressed.

Argento’s daughter Asia (xXx) plays Sarah Mandy, an assistant at some museum who is there when her boss unseals and accidentally bleeds on (you know how it is) an ancient artifact, summoning witches who horribly murder the boss. This is a creepy scene because of the way Sarah just sort of glimpses a feeding frenzy from outside of the room, and because she gets pursued through the empty museum by an evil monkey that tries to keep up with her and keeps hissing to notify the others of her location. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

Friday, October 25th, 2013

tn_birdwithcrystalTHE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE is a Dario Argento movie I hadn’t seen before. This is his directational debut, so it shows what he was up to before the ones I’m most familiar with, DEEP RED, SUSPIRIA and INFERNO. He’s not yet the sicko artiste who made those three, but you can see him headed in that direction.

An American writer (Tony Musante) visiting Italy happens to be walking across the street from an art gallery one night when he sees a struggle going on inside. He runs over but can’t get into the large, plate glass storefront. He knocks on the window but is forced to just watch as a stabbed woman lays bleeding on the floor inside. Then he gets trapped behind another wall of glass. Another passerby brings cops in time to save the woman, but this American at the scene of the crime, and planning to leave the country soon, that doesn’t look too good. So they confiscate his passport.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) + Goblin live review

Monday, October 21st, 2013

tn_deepredI hope this isn’t oversharing, but my first Dario Argento movie was PROFONDO ROSSO, which we call DEEP RED here in the states. I don’t think I knew anything about it when I rented it on a mysterious, seedy looking VHS tape that called it “DEEP RED HATCHET MURDERS.” That’s not the worst title because it is, in fact, about a series of murders, though some of them are done with knives and not hatchets. So the “hatchet” part is kinda misleading. The plural on the “murders,” though, that part was dead on. There’s a bunch of them.

The story begins in Cronenbergian fashion as psychic medium Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril) is doing a public demonstration of her skills, and is suddenly overcome when she senses evil thoughts by someone in the room. Our protagonist is David Hemmings (Dildano from BABARELLA) as British jazz pianist Marcus Daly, who happens to be walking beneath an apartment window as Helga is murdered in a genuinely shocking burst of violence (she’s hit from behind with… yeah, I guess it’s a hatchet, her head crashes through the window and then she drops-throat first onto the edge of the remaining glass. Ouch! And all up there on display like he’s watching an opera. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.