I've loved horror films ever since I was a kid. I grew up on 80s slashers, zombie flicks, and supernatural demon movies, like Demons and Demons 2, both of which were penned (at least in part) by Dario Argento, the master of Italian horror. Challenging narratives, a romantic kind of violence, and buckets and buckets of gore are all signatures of Italian horror, and Argento, as well as director Mario Bava took the genre to a whole new level from where it was in the late 50s. Check out this 70-minute 1985 documentary Dario Argento's World of Horror, and find out more about the iconic Italian filmmaker who made horror beautiful.
Dario Argento's directorial debut came in 1970 with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, which catapulted his career to new heights. However, he is most famous for his giallo horror films, like Suspiria and Deep Red (which has a 100% fresh rating.)
He has a way of seeing things in a different way -- oftentimes terrifying, but also quite poetic and beautiful. His benign remarks like, "The sound, it looks wonderful," may make us smile, while remarks like this make us cringe:
I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or man.
To get a look inside Argento's twisted, yet appealing world, check out the documentary below:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndm9hZHi0oE
The horror genre is often seen as a dystopia of blood and guts, violence and terror, and lots and lots of "running away sequences" by pretty girls who never seem to be able to keep their footing. But, the great horror filmmakers brought something more than sheer mayhem to the screen.
In Argento's case (at least at the beginning of his career,) he had a way of bridging the gap between revulsion and allure -- he understood that people can be drawn to the very things that repel them. Argento knew we all have a dark side.
Behind the beautiful visage of college degrees, home ownership, family dinners, and firm handshakes is something we try to hide from everyone else. That is the duality Argento brandished like a blade in his films. He says:
Horror is the future. And you cannot be afraid. You must push everything to the absolute limit or else life will be boring. People will be boring. Horror is like a serpent; always shedding its skin, always changing. And it will always come back. It can't be hidden away like the guilty secrets we try to keep in our subconscious.
What do you think about Dario Argento? Where do you see his influence in the horror genre? Let us know in the comments.