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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master.

 
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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 31/5/2012 2:45:40 PM   
Discodez

 

Posts: 798
Joined: 2/9/2010
Doesn't look great does it? having said that, I'll still give a duff Argento a look anyway.

Asia looked particularly hot in the premiere pictures...

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 14/6/2012 4:37:59 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6719
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Discodez

Doesn't look great does it? having said that, I'll still give a duff Argento a look anyway.

Asia looked particularly hot in the premiere pictures...

Same here i'll give it a try,as a duff Argento is far better than some shit they call films now,plus ASIA

 

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 25/8/2012 2:24:46 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6719
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
Finally got a copy of DRACULA 3D,and no it's not in 3D,and the picture and sound are a bit naff on this bootleg DVD,that a mate got from Germany.
 
A young librarian, Jonathan Harker, is welcomed at Castle Dracula by the Count and a young woman named Tania, who seems intent on seducing Harker. The Count prevents Tania from biting the young man, but Dracula attacks Harker himself, leaving him weak. Harker attempts to escape the castle, but is killed by a wolf. Harker's wife, Mina, arrives in the village and stays at the home of her friend, Lucy Kisslinger. Worried about her husband, she visits the castle, and falls under the spell of the Count. It transpires that Dracula has engineered their meeting, because Mina is the reincarnation of his long-lost love, Dolinger. Lucy also becomes undead before the mysterious happenings in the village attract the attention of vampire expert Van Helsing, who prepares for final combat with his deadliest foe.

OK i'll try and be positive first about Dario Argento's Dracula as it is enjoyable with affectionate nods to old horror movies of the past like the ones directed by Mario Bava and ye old Hammer Films.It's also very like The Phantom Of The Opera he did many moons ago,a fun trashy cheesefest of a film,that in truth only us Argento nut's could enjoy.Thanks to the sexy Miriam Giovanelli,Marta Gastini, Rutger Hauer and the soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti,and Asia nude yet again it keeps the film from ending up in the trash can.Also there's plenty of blood letting,IE plenty of gore scenes to keep us gorehounds happy,and it's by the numbers Gothic horror in the old style,which for me is a bonus.Shit acting award goe's to the wooden Thomas Kretschmann as Count Dracula,if you can call that acting,i've seen some bloody bad acting,but this guy belongs in some forgotten US soap show.

As you all know i actually like Argento's modern films such as: Sleepless, Il Cartaio and Mother of tears, but if you thought that his last three films were bad, then you should take a look at Dracula 3D.How the master of horror has fallen so low is beyond words,i've seen better amateur horror films,now saying that it is still a fun, charming throwback to old style Horror.But only us die hard Argeto fans will be able to stomach this below average horror film,it's such a shame that the decent actors in this film where given such a dire script.More bad news is the CGI effects are cringe-worthy,Rutger Hauer only appears in the last half of the feature.On the whole the acting is Ham at best,the editing a bit rough and the pace very slow at times,and it has to be said this is the worse Argeto movie scine The Card Player,in fact it make's it look awesome.4/10

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 25/8/2012 10:11:39 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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Joined: 19/10/2005
NOOOO! Honestly, I was hoping, as you were, that this would be a real return to form for Dario, but the fact the you, the biggest Argento fan around, rated it so low, seems to say it all [you even liked Mother Of Tears, which I didn't]. Sounds like he should just call it a day don't you think?

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 27/8/2012 8:22:00 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6719
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

NOOOO! Honestly, I was hoping, as you were, that this would be a real return to form for Dario, but the fact the you, the biggest Argento fan around, rated it so low, seems to say it all [you even liked Mother Of Tears, which I didn't]. Sounds like he should just call it a day don't you think?

In all honesty i have to agree with you,it is time for Argento to pack it in,it's been a slide down hill after the wonderful Sleepless.And even though i liked Mother Of Tears,even it did not feel like a return to form,and yet i did hope he could pull one last decent Gothic horror or Gallio out of the hat.The only good news is that Arrow Films are doing a fine Job in re mastering his old back catalog,and they look and sound awesome on Blu-Ray.

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 28/8/2012 4:41:31 PM   
Discodez

 

Posts: 798
Joined: 2/9/2010
So pretty much as we were expecting then Bill? Doubt it will get a cinema release (which is a shame, I was looking forward to all that gore and Asia nekkid in 3D), I hope someone eventually does a decent Blu ray though.

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Post #: 1116
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 3/9/2012 9:31:39 PM   
Clewis

 

Posts: 1
Joined: 24/8/2012
The things this guy does with light are absolutely amazing.

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Post #: 1117
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 12/9/2012 7:51:21 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6719
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Clewis

The things this guy does with light are absolutely amazing.

Well Welcome nice to have some new blood on this thread,and yes his use of light and colour are what kept his films above the rest.But don't forget his use of sound was enough to send the shivers down most spines,he was the Master Of Horror Italian style.

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 24/1/2013 9:50:21 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6719
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
Well some good news from BLOODY DISCUSTING:
"It feels like every year I’m posting some sort of update on the forthcoming Suspiria remake, which is being developed by Natalie Portman’s production company and director Davis Gordon Green. Orphan‘s Isabelle Fuhrman had even been attached to star!
Green, who is at Sundance promoting his pretty funny indie comedy Prince Avalanche, revealed to Collider that the project is stuck in a legal limbo it may never free itself from. “Suspiria is caught up in legal crap so who knows what will ever happen to that,” he explained. “That kind of falls into the ‘Confederacy Of Dunces’ category of ‘someday I’d like to make these movies’ that I was once attached to and worked on, but they may never happen.
This is a chance to cheer for those of you opposed to the redo of Dario Argento’s colorful 1977 masterpiece. Still, it would have been interesting to see what Green’s gaggle of witches would have been like."
NO I SAY,NO!!!!

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 25/1/2013 12:22:02 PM   
Discodez

 

Posts: 798
Joined: 2/9/2010
Thank god for that ...

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Post #: 1120
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 17/4/2013 12:47:59 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3979
Joined: 19/10/2005
AVAILABLE ON ITALIAN IMPORT



In a Transylvanian village, Tania goes out at night-time to meet up with her boyfriend, and, when he refuses to walk her home, is left alone and is bitten by Count Dracula. Meanwhile Jonathan Harker journeys from England to Transylvania to Dracula’s castle to catalogue Dracula’s huge library. At first enticed by Dracula’s gracious manner, Harker soon discovers that he has become a prisoner in the castle. While searching for a way out, Harker falls under the spell of Tanya, who is now Dracula’s bride, but it is saved by Dracula, who, after seeing a picture of her, is most interested in Harker’s fiancée Mina, the spitting image of his wife who died some four hundred years before, and who is now arriving in the village to supposedly join Harker……

One of the most depressing things as a film fan is seeing a filmmaker who you admire go downhill, to the point where you actually want them to stop making films. Dario Argento is not the only horror maestro to do this of late; you could say the same about some others, especially Argento’s friend and occasional collaborator George Romero, who can’t even seem to make decent zombie movies any more. It’s great that Romero and Argento still have the drive to make films. The trouble is, they aren’t much good at it any more. I remember that even during the 80’s there were those who were saying that Argento’s output was getting weaker, and there are many who claim that the quality of his work diminishing coincided with him deciding to feature his daughter Asia in his work, though I don’t think that’s entirely true: The Stendahl Syndrome was in my view a near-masterpiece and Argento was still capable of turning out enjoyable pictures. Something has seriously gone wrong of late though with the distinctly average mediocre quality of The Card Player and Giallo, and the distinctly abysmal quality of Mother Of Tears, a film which almost made me weep at what once was.

Now years ago, the idea of Argento filming Bram Stoker’s much-filmed novel would probably have had his fans hitting the roof with excitement, and in the 70’s he did consider doing a version of Frankenstein which from what I’ve read sounds like it would have been fantastic and another Argento classic. These days though, no one really expects an Argento classic, in fact some probably expect the opposite, and I received the news that Argento was doing Dracula with distinct trepidation. I almost couldn’t bear the thought of him thoroughly disappointing me again and ruining one of my favourite stories. Of course to be honest, there have been so many film versions of Dracula, some of them great movies, that it’s now very hard to put a new spin on it; it’s all been done before.Argento’s Dracula doesn’t even really do that. After much worrying, I did think for a short while that this project may reignite Argento’s mojo. The thought of Argento back at his best, applying his visual brilliance and unique sensibilities to Stoker’s novel, perhaps enhancing the sexual and violent aspects – bring it on!

Well, you probably don’t need me to tell you that the result is another loser. Imagine if Hammer had filmed Dracula not in 1958 but in the early 70’s, where their films retained a little bit of their early Gothic magnificence but were more bothered with upping the boobs and blood quote, and imagine that done badly, and you’ll get an idea of Argento’s movie. Along the way Argento and his co-writers alter a few things in the story, but seem more interested in re-playing things from previous adaptations, and usually quite poorly. Harker encounters a single ‘bride’ in Dracula’s castle, as in the 1958 Dracula. Mina goes to visit Dracula in his home, as in the 1979 one. Mina turns out to be the reincarnation of Dracula’s dead wife [1973 and 1988 versions]. And so it goes on, most of it handled in a way that, as I’ve said, resembles late Hammer. After a while I forgot Argento was directing this, and to enjoy it at all, I reckon you should do the same.

I mentioned the word ‘enjoy’, and this Dracula can certainly be enjoyed if you have a weakness for bad movies. Argento doesn’t seem interested in creating much suspense or creepiness, with the result that the film drags too much at times, but you can get much amusement from many things. Every single night-time scene is so ludicrously bright that sometimes you can almost see the stage lights beaming in off the edge of the screen. Crucial scenes are so clumsily staged they look unfinished. No attempt is made to disguise the fact that the Transylvanian village is clearly an Italian one. The CGI effects, usually employed when Dracula changes into something, or back again, often look like old video game graphics [and you could really use some scenes in this film to show how in some cases the pre-computer way of doing special effects was better – compare the decomposing shots in it, for instance, with comparable shots in some Hammer films], and it’s weird that Dracula becomes various animals but not a bat. The worst, but in a way funniest, bit, a scene which made my jaw drop and had to re-play to see if I had imagined it, is when Dracula becomes a man-sized praying mantis who seems to have escaped from A Bug’s Life or something. The animation is laughably unconvincing and it’s so random, but it’s certainly memorable, and that’s more than you can say for a lot of other stuff at the moment.

This film sees Suspiria and Tenebrae cinematographer Luciano Tovoli return to work with Argento and, despite the hilarious brightness of many scenes, he does at least make Dracula pleasant to look at, and a few shots, especially in a crypt, seem to evoke Mario Bava in the use of colours, a nice nod to the Father of Italian horror. This was in 3D in Italian cinemas but aside from a couple of things hurling towards the audience, you wouldn’t know it. Claudio Simonetti’s score uses so much theramin that, though I’m normally a fan of this weird musical instrument which is mostly associated with 50’s science-fiction films, I now don’t want to hear a bloody theramin again for weeks. His music seems on the verge of being tongue-in-cheek in a film which is almost sombre for long sections until the leisurely first two thirds give way to an action-filled final third with lots of gory mayhem where you see heads ripped off, fingers bitten off and spat out, and the like, and this stuff mostly look quite good. You also get to see some breasts, including Asia’s again, but the film often seems a little coy in its sexual elements; I would have expected Argento to really go to town on the ‘biting’ scenes.

The acting is mostly of the ‘get it over and done with’ kind, with Thomas Kretschmann [usually a fine actor and very good in The Stendahl Syndrome] a pretty dull Dracula who is never really scary, and Rutger Hauer’s weary Van Helsing able to unconvincingly dispatch vampires in seconds seeming to have difficulty remembering his lines. At least Marta Gastini is very easy on the eyes and Asia is always worth watching though even she seems to be coasting. Is Dracula a good film? No, it’s clumsy and pointless. It’s weak film-making and adds nothing to Stoker. Did I enjoy it? Yes, in parts, but then again I enjoy watching Ed Wood films sometimes. It has a slight charm, and is certainly amusing at times, but the fact that I am using such terms, and struggling to say anything else good to say about the latest film from a director who really wowed me right from that time when I first put that video of Inferno into my player and immediately fell in love, is not good at all.

Dario, if you’re reading this; I did get some limited enjoyment out of your latest movie, but please, from a big fan of yours who is losing his patience, just stop now.

Rating: 4/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 1/10/2013 8:25:44 PM >


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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 21/4/2013 12:54:12 PM   
adamthehorrorfan

 

Posts: 122
Joined: 16/10/2011
From: London, England
I had the opportunity of meeting Dario Argento briefly at last year's Frightfest in Empire Leicester Square. He was doing a talk about how financially there were issues to make films in Italy I think. He later discussed a few other things, like how Hauer went missing whilst working with him on a movie but I don't remember everything else he discussed. Afterwards, there was a book signing.

I liked a lot of his older films, such as Inferno, Suspiria, Tenebrae and Phenomena but I am not having very high expectations for his new Dracula film (from what I heard about it). I guess we will have to wait and see how it is, but no idea when it will be released?

< Message edited by adamthehorrorfan -- 21/4/2013 12:57:36 PM >

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 29/4/2013 9:22:01 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6719
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

AVAILABLE ON ITALIAN IMPORT





The acting is mostly of the 'get it over and done with' kind, with Thomas Kretschmann [usually a fine actor and very good in The Stendahl Syndrome] a pretty dull Dracula who is never really scary, and Rutger Hauer's weary Van Helsing able to unconvincingly dispatch vampires in seconds seeming to have difficulty remembering his lines. At least Marta Gastini is very easy on the eyes and Asia is always worth watching though even she seems to be coasting. Is Dracula a good film? No, it's clumsy and pointless. It's weak film-making and adds nothing to Stoker. Did I enjoy it? Yes, in parts, but then again I enjoy watching Ed Wood films sometimes. It has a slight charm, and is certainly amusing at times, but the fact that I am using such terms, and struggling to say anything else good to say about the latest film from a director who really wowed me right from that time when I first put that video of Inferno into my player and immediately fell in love, is not good at all.

Dario, if you're reading this; I did get some limited enjoyment out of your latest movie, but please, from a big fan of yours who is losing his patience, just stop now.

Rating: 4/10

Like you INFERNO was my first interdiction to Dario Argento, and I have love all of his early work, but his last three films just don't even belong in a Argento collection. Well at least you got to see it on a proper DVD release, not the shit bootleg I struggled with, saying that we both seem to agree it's so bad, yet it has a charm about it, but like you I struggled to score it 4/10
Also agree Dario just forget about doing another film please!!!

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 1/10/2013 8:28:52 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3979
Joined: 19/10/2005

At a psychic conference, medium Helga Ulmann senses there is someone with a twisted and violent mind in the audience. Soon after, she hears a wordless children’s song being played, then she is murdered. The murder is witnessed by music teacher and occasional jazz musician Mark Daly, but by the time he gets to her apartment Helga is dead. Marck feels that something important is missing from the apartment, possibly a painting, but no picture appears to have disappeared. He begins a reluctant friendship with journalist Gianni Brezzi, both of them wanting to solve the murder. After hearing the same song Helga heard being played near his apartment and having a near miss with the killer, he plays the tune to Prof. Giordani, a psychiatrist. Giordani tells him of a folktale involving a haunted house in which a singing child is heard, followed by the shrieking of someone being murdered…..

Deep Red can probably be called the ultimate giallo. There may be other efforts that are bloodier, crazier, even cleverer, but Dario Argento’s 1975 thriller is perhaps the best all-round example of the form. It gives you everything you expect in a giallo, packing in all the cliches and slyly sending then up just as it revels in them. If you’ve never seen a giallo and aren’t really bothered about seeing one but feel you should try one out, then Deep Red is really the one to see. As well as containing all the expected ingredients like a mystery, a black-gloved murderer and gruesome deaths, and in part remaking Argento’s first film The Bird With The Crystal Plumage [which also had a man witness a murder and know he saw something that was ‘off’ but unable to work out what it was], it also contains good performances [something Argento’s films are not known for] and even some moments of charm. In short, it’s a stunning and fantastically entertaining picture all round, a devious combination of murder mystery and slasher movie, made by a director who was just reaching the height of his powers.

Though set in Rome, Deep Red was actually filmed in Turin [like the later Sleepless]. It had the biggest ‘name’ to so far feature in an Argento film, David Hemmings, wanted by the director because he had starred in Blow Up, a major source of inspiration to Argento and a direct influence of several of his films. Argento didn’t like Giorgio Gaslini’s score and actually asked Pink Floyd to do the music but most, though not all of, Gaslini’s music ended up being replaced by compositions from the progressive rock group Goblin, launching their career in Italian horror. As usual, Argento wore the black gloves himself for the murder set pieces, and, similarly, the film was shot silent and Italian and English language versions recorded afterwards. 21 min were cut from the export version at the behest of the distributors but decided by Argento himself. The edits mainly removed scenes between Mark and Gianni, in doing so cutting much of the film’s humour, though the first scene showing Mark with his jazz band was also removed and many others shortened. The shorter cut moves faster, but for me the longer version is preferable with its deeper characterisation and occasional light touch. An even shorter version running 88 min called The Hatchet Murders was released in US cinemas after the success of Halloween and this version came out on UK video, while in Japan the film was called Suspiria 2. This review is of the full version, though even that has variants: up until recently all UK versions lost a few seconds of animal cruelty and some versions have the final shot as a freeze frame. Of course many versions trimmed the violence too.

Deep Red has the most audacious opening. The wonderful Tubular Bells-style theme music plays as the credits begin, but it’s twice interrupted twice by a child’s wordless lullaby over images of a 50’s style living room at Christmas time in which we see a killing in shadow, a bloody knife being dropped and a child’s feet standing by a knife. Then we see Mark practising with his band, and no, in terms of narrative it’s not important at all, but it’s symbolically important, creating a slight sexual uneasiness which will be in other places of the film with Mark’s hesitating of the word bordello, as well as having Mark’s comment “it’s precise, too formal” foreshadow the film’s whole approach, which is to create the ultimate giallo but also to ‘shake it up’ a bit. After this Deep Red moves quite slowly for a while, perhaps too slowly for some wanting tons of suspense, murders and gore. Even after Mark has witnessed the medium’s death there’s much chat involving Mark and his drunken friend, and, in particular, Mark and Gianni the journalist. I love the latter scenes though, which have a screwball comedy flair to them and are sometimes funny to boot, from Mark constantly being made to look inadequate to the smug look on his face [at the audience!] when he knows he’s going to ‘score’. David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi have surprising chemistry too. Nicolodi, who for once is even allowed to be sexy in Deep Red, would go on to appear in many successive Argento pictures and become the mother of Asia, and one could say that Argento was at his artistic peak when he was her partner.

The highlight of the first half of the film is an amazingly suspenseful sequence when Mark is playing the piano and realises the killer is in his house. The plot doesn’t really get develop until the second half as Mark and Gianni set out to solve the mystery, a search which takes one or both of them to a house which is reputed to be haunted, and a school which, in a typically sly touch, seems to be churning out generations of psychopaths. Argento constantly wrong foots the audience with gleeful abandon, and the final revelation of the killer does not really matter that much to the plot, but Argento does play fair in actually showing the killer’s face early on in the film, a brave device but one that works because very few people would notice it. It also helps make the final revelation startling and even blood curdling. Meanwhile the ever moving camera also plays with the audience, tending to move backwards more than forwards, and often moving away from someone when they are in the middle of doing someone to somewhere else. Mark is in a cellar looking for something, so what does the camera do? It pulls away from him so he is off-screen, then goes up the steps and waits for him to come up! Luigi Kuveiller’s cinematographer is constantly teasing and toying while never being an empty stylistic device and adding immeasurably to the perfectly placed scenes of tension building.

Argento takes his time but always with good results, especially when Mark explores the haunted house. For about five minutes, all we see is him wondering about, but the carefully chosen angles [often hinting at somebody watching him], the truly unsettling location and the Goblin music makes the sequence hypnotic. It actually seems like the Goblin piece was written first and the scene edited to it, so well does it match the images. The music is extremely loud and in-your-face throughout. One piece heard a few times sounds like a wind combines with sounds from Goblin’s next score Suspiria. In fact the film as a whole almost seems like a bridging work between Argento’s previous three giallos and the crazy fantasy of Suspiria and Inferno, from the supposedly haunted house to some really grotesque paintings in a hallway. One of the most interesting aspects of Deep Red is the sense of a supernatural world lurking in the shadows, right down to the way the murders are usually prefigured by something else – for example, Mark’s talk of hating his father and imagining playing the piano was, as a child, like knocking his teeth out, leads to a truly horrific killing where the victim has his teeth bashed on all four corners of a table. The murders are brutally effective without being prolonged. A drowning in a bath with scoldingly hot water was repeated in Halloween 2. The most chilling scene though is when one victim-to-be is attacked by a mechanical doll. There’s no real reason why the killer should want to tease him like this [though Michael Myers liked to tease his victims] but the image of the doll lying on the floor, his head smashed into two halves but his legs flailing about, is positively unnerving.

A shot of a lizard impaled by a pin looks uncomfortably real, though it was eventually restored to the film in the UK in 2010 when Argento told the BBFC it was faked. Cutting the shot did weaken [you don't see what she does to make her father slap her] another memorable and sinister, if brief, appearance by that fine child actress Nicoletta Elmi, already used to being films like this. Deep Red has a few longuers and certain parts of the story feel tenuously connected to others, but it still works as both a cracking thriller and a film which, in successive viewings when you know how it ends, really gets under your skin in an almost subliminal way. There are two or three Argento films I prefer, but it remains a perfect example of how great Argento the man really once was. His recent work may be increasingly disappointing to us fans, but we only have to put on something like Deep Red and it cheers us up straight away doesn’t it?

Rating: 9/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 1/10/2013 8:40:59 PM >


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(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 1124
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 17/10/2013 7:53:09 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6719
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera


.

A shot of a lizard impaled by a pin looks uncomfortably real, though it was eventually restored to the film in the UK in 2010 when Argento told the BBFC it was faked. Cutting the shot did weaken [you don't see what she does to make her father slap her] another memorable and sinister, if brief, appearance by that fine child actress Nicoletta Elmi, already used to being films like this. Deep Red has a few longuers and certain parts of the story feel tenuously connected to others, but it still works as both a cracking thriller and a film which, in successive viewings when you know how it ends, really gets under your skin in an almost subliminal way. There are two or three Argento films I prefer, but it remains a perfect example of how great Argento the man really once was. His recent work may be increasingly disappointing to us fans, but we only have to put on something like Deep Red and it cheers us up straight away doesn't it?

Rating: 9/10

Superb review mate, though I have the Another World version of PROFONDO ROSSO which was uncut way back in 2005, as it was from the EU, in Italian but it has English subtitles 126 minutes, and English dubbed version at 105 minutes as well, though cut.

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Post #: 1125
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 20/1/2014 8:20:59 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3979
Joined: 19/10/2005

On a rainy night, a chiropractor opens a door to let an unseen patient into her office. When the chiropractor says to the unseen person that “you look familiar”, the person knocks her out, takes out a machine-operated wire device and decapitates the woman. Several days later, David Parson, a sketch artist for a Minneapolis TV news programme, prevents Romanian Aura Petrescu from throwing herself off a bridge. She steals his wallet but is then grabbed by two men who take her away in a car to the home of her parents. There, her mother Adriana conducts a séance where she is possessed and mentions a monster with and more murders to come. Outside, Aura finds a headless body and sees a black-clad killer holding up the severed heads of her mother and father in the pouring rain.…..

This Dario Argento fan remembers vividly when Trauma came out in 1993 and the hostile reputation it got from fans who considered it a tame and unforgiveable selling-out by the director to the commercial American market, which didn’t like it much either. It was especially criticised for its relative lack of violence. I liked the movie as soon as I saw it and even back then didn’t agree with all the vitriol that was poured onto it. It is an odd, awkward piece of work, there’s no doubt about it, coming across as an uneasy combination of a typical early Argento giallo with an American TV thriller, but compared to some of the stuff the man has given us recently, it seems like a masterpiece, and especially with repeated viewings there is a lot to enjoy. It has some very memorable sequences and a warmth that is mostly missing from his post-Deep Red films, while there is actually some gruesomeness: it’s just less than had become the norm for Argento at the time, and is closer to being at the same level as his first three movies. I reckon that if it had been the work of another director who made no secret of the fact that he or she was making an Argento-style film in the US, Trauma would have had a much better response.

Argento had actually attempted to break more into the American market just before with Two Evil Eyes, his two-part Edgar Allan Poe adaptation with George Romero. Trauma was partly inspired by Argento’s daughter Anna, who suffered badly from anorexia and all the psychological problems that went with it. The project was originally titled Murder Guillotine, than Aura’s Enigma before settling on the far too common Trauma. Scheduling problems meant that Bridget Fonda could not play Aura, while Tim Roth, James Spader and John Cusack all turned down the part of David, and Argento’s wish for Goblin to score was refused by the producers. The script by Argento, Franco Ferrini and Gianni Romoli [the latter two each worked on one half of the story] was heavily rewritten by American writer T.E.D. Klein, who added much, such as Aura’s suicide attempt, and removed much of the violence of what was originally planned as an extremely vicious film. The ‘Wizard Of Gore’, effects supremo Tom Savini, was hired to work on the film but was disappointed when not only his workload became considerably less than he had wished for, such as a kill where a head would be split in half by cutting into the mouth [he even built a large model of the mouth], but a proposed opening scene where he would play a man who is decapitated, thus triggering the killer’ s dormant trauma, was also nixed. Even the supposed final cut was considered too bloody and heavily cut by the studio who also tried to remove all the scenes featuring a boy called Gabriel except for the final one. The poorly recieved film was a flop even in Italy, which saw a seven minute longer version, though I’ve seen this cut and the extra footage isn’t much except a new introduction for the hero and heroine. The BBFC removed some neck-severing shots from the original cinema and video releases.

The film opens with a strange camera pan through cardboard models of characters from the French Revolution which only makes sense if you know that in the first script the killer had a Marie Antoinette fixation, though this film contains several things in it which don’t make sense. An opening murder, seen mostly from the point of view of the killer, has a strong scary atmosphere to it with the rain lashing down and almost film noir-style lighting, and it also has a slight American slasher film feel to it. Then we meet our hero and heroine, who are thrown together when David stops Anna from killing herself. They’re a strange pair, these two, Aura being very disturbed by not just her anorexia but being an ex-drug addict and the small matter of the murder of her parents, but David has serious problems too, being an ex-drug addict himself and more prone to relapsing than Aura, as well as falling under the girl’s spell. Unlike the heroes of Argento’s earlier gialli, he doesn’t really achieve much in the film, despite his constant rushing around. The central romance feels rushed. Aura sees David having sex with his pushy news reporter girlfriend Grace [and doesn’t David have a strange job, I mean a sketch drawer for a news programme?] and runs away, David leaves his girlfriend mid coitus and chases after all, then they have a clinch and kiss passionately to loud romantic scoring, being all of a sudden now In Love. We do care about these two though, while the entire film is populated with unusual folk, most of whom seem to have serious hang-ups. It’s interesting to see how the lesbian couple in the film is less obviously sexualised for the male viewer than the couple in Tenebrae.

The plot, part of which hinges on the typical Argento device of someone thinking they saw something but something wasn’t right, doesn’t really hold up to close scrutiny and in places really does rehash Argento’s early stuff especially Deep Red. You can even see the murderer early on very briefly. The director seems to be consciously reworking favourite devices and elements for the proposed large American audience for Trauma that didn’t materialise [the US distributors didn’t help, billing the film as: “A horror film if David Lynch had made one”, obviously forgetting that Lynch had already made at least two film in that genre]. The film is nicely paced, quite leisurely for the first half and much faster for its second, though it never really kicks into high gear and the climax is over rather quickly. The kills use minimal blood but are effective enough. The best death is probably one where a catatonic mental patient in a hospital witnesses a head severing in shadow. Sadly Savini’s severed heads are not very convincing. A shot from the bottom of a lift with a head falling towards the camera looks especially poor, while the cut to it hitting a spike was amongst the many bits cut. Piper Laurie didn’t want to have a new model of her head done so they used one from Twin Peaks.

Argento always made sure each of his films has a different look to it, and this one makes interesting use of desaturated colours and natural light, with many striking shots of sunlight streaming into darkened rooms, though some scenes are dull to look at too, giving the film a slightly jarring feel. Bennett Goldberg’s editing is a bit amateurish at times but cinematographer Raffaele Mertes makes up for this with lots of thrillingly cinematic moments when the camera zooms all over the place, especially during the killer’s rampage through a hospital. At one point it even adopts the jittery point of view of a butterfly. Said butterfly appears in the oddest part of the story, the kid Gabriel who lives next door to the murderer and gets curious after a decapitated head is left sitting by the window to stare at him all night. Though they seem a bit detached from the rest of the film, these Rear Window-esque scenes are fun and have a nice line in black humour. Then there’s that bizarre ending, when the camera pans to a reggae band playing on the porch of a house bathed in yellow light. The band actually appeared in an earlier scene that was cut out, while the woman dancing to the music is Anna Argento, who sadly died in a scooter crash soon after the film’s release. Maybe Trauma is, in the end, a compromised movie, but it still has plenty of odd quirks.

Christropher Rydell seems too light-weight for his role but the strong performance by 16 year old Asia Argento, replete with Romanian accent, in the first of many films for her dad, makes up for it. The complex character is one of Argento’s most interesting. Pino Donaggio’s busy score is sometimes over the top but that’s nothing new in an Argento movie, it’s just a bit more conventional than usual. His vocal theme for Aura, Ruby Rain, is haunting and beautiful. The commercial and, to him, artistic failure of Trauma made Argento return to Italy and go back to making films for his fans and the Italian market, but he needn’t be ashamed of the film. It’s an enjoyable and sometimes interesting thriller, and it’s nice to see that its reputation has increased in time and more and more people seem to like it. I can’t imagine that happening with The Card Player.

Rating: 7/10

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Post #: 1126
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 21/1/2014 8:37:54 PM   
Mister Coe

 

Posts: 1561
Joined: 20/10/2012
I remember watching TRAUMA back in the 90's and rather liking it... haven't seen it since my original viewing, but I think it might be worthy of reinvestigation... after watching the Blu of TENEBRAE, I'm going through a bit of a mop-up of Argento flicks I'm not all that familiar with (or haven't seen at all)... THE CARD PLAYER is next...

Asia was 16 when she did this? In a film directed by her father? I think anyones whose seen this film will know why I'm about to post the following smiley-icon...



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Post #: 1127
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 21/1/2014 9:17:18 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3979
Joined: 19/10/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: Mister Coe

I remember watching TRAUMA back in the 90's and rather liking it... haven't seen it since my original viewing, but I think it might be worthy of reinvestigation... after watching the Blu of TENEBRAE, I'm going through a bit of a mop-up of Argento flicks I'm not all that familiar with (or haven't seen at all)... THE CARD PLAYER is next...

Asia was 16 when she did this? In a film directed by her father? I think anyones whose seen this film will know why I'm about to post the following smiley-icon...




I guess you haven't seen The Stendahl Syndrome and his Phantom Of The Opera yet then?


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Post #: 1128
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 22/1/2014 8:28:49 PM   
Mister Coe

 

Posts: 1561
Joined: 20/10/2012
Actually Dr L, I have... loved STENDHAL SYNDROME (which I didn't on my initial viewing, a classic example of how should you should give a films a second go if it comes from a filmmaker you admire), didn't like PHANTOM at all...

I think what I'm trying to say here is... 16????



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Post #: 1129
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 24/1/2014 10:13:18 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3979
Joined: 19/10/2005
Ah, I see what you were getting at!!!!

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Post #: 1130
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 16/2/2014 9:24:34 PM   
Kubrickrube

 

Posts: 62
Joined: 30/3/2012
From: Derby
I watched Dracula a while back. I enjoyed it and I definitely see his Hammer influence with the movie. It wasn't one of his best and I'm sure he would agree with that. I'm guessing it was probably him just being really excited about the chance to make the movie and do it how he wanted.

I'm not sure how everyone feels but I think he is making movies that he wants to make now and possibly things that he didn't think he'd have been allowed to make. I think his best artistic work is more than likely over with now.

Hit me with your top five Argento movies!

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Post #: 1131
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 4/3/2014 4:05:23 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3979
Joined: 19/10/2005
Top five, at the moment,

1/ Opera
2/ Suspiria
3/ Deep Red
4/ The Stendahl Syndrome
5/ Inferno

It'll probably change in a few weeks...

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 4/3/2014 10:59:06 PM   
Mister Coe

 

Posts: 1561
Joined: 20/10/2012

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kubrickrube

I watched Dracula a while back. I enjoyed it and I definitely see his Hammer influence with the movie. It wasn't one of his best and I'm sure he would agree with that. I'm guessing it was probably him just being really excited about the chance to make the movie and do it how he wanted.

I'm not sure how everyone feels but I think he is making movies that he wants to make now and possibly things that he didn't think he'd have been allowed to make. I think his best artistic work is more than likely over with now.

Hit me with your top five Argento movies!


1 - Suspiria
2 - Tenebrae
3 - Phenomena
4 - Opera
5 - The Stendhal Syndrome

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RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 10/3/2014 2:53:37 PM   
Discodez

 

Posts: 798
Joined: 2/9/2010
Top 5

Deep Red
Tenebrae
The Bird With The Crystal Plummage
Suspiria
The Stendahl Syndrome

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Post #: 1134
RE: DARIO ARGENTO overlooked master. - 8/4/2014 6:21:11 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6719
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
1/ Inferno
2/ Deep Red
3/ Suspiria
4/ Opera
5/ The Stendahl Syndrome
Yeah I know same as the Dr but in a different order.

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