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Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror (2000)

Documentary that explores Argento's film career.

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Documentary that explores Argento's film career.

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15 April 2005 (Finland)  »

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An Eye for Horror  »

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Decent enough documentary on Dario...
18 March 2004 | by See all my reviews

...if you enjoy his movies. Throughout his lengthy career as one of Italy's most famous horror directors of the "giallo" genre, I enjoyed about five or six of Dario's films. "PROFONDO ROSSO", "BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE", "FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET" and "SUSPIRIA". His last good movie was "TENEBRE" which was somewhere back in the early 1980's.

The films he has pumped out in that time and now have all been regarded as either disappointing or "trash". The last film of his that I saw was "TRAUMA" which was painful to sit through. It seemed like somewhere overnight he just lost his 'spark' and 'touch' as that unique director with the nightmarish cinematic vision he had held for the good part of his career.

The narrator of this documentary is obviously one of Dario's biggest fans. He gushes over a lot of his later movies as if they were cinematic treasure (including "TRAUMA" and "TWO EVIL EYES"). He also refers to Dario's daughter, Asia Argento, as "Ah-jee-a", which is a pretty unique spin on the word "ASIA" if you ask me!

For Dario's fans, you will be shocked to see some of the interviewees they dragged out of semi-retirement/obscurity for this documentary. Those of you wondering whatever happened to Daria Nicolodi (who was featured in about four of his movies) gives some brief insight regarding her marriage to Dario and why she decided not to appear in any more of his films (she didn't think there were any more creative ways to kill off her characters!).

She appears in this documentary as how you might have imagined her to look these days, but unfortunately she is wearing a big pair of sunglasses the entire time so you can't see her eyes (and we all know how much information you can gather just by looking at a pair of eyes).

Another big surprise was seeing Jessica Harper (from "SUSPIRIA") who I swear looked exactly the same nearly 25 years ago! Except for the turkey waddle and the turtle neck she was wearing to try and disguise it, she has really kept herself looking well in all this time. Looking at her resume on the imdb, she hasn't completely disappeared from the film industry, but I guess I just hadn't seen the right "straight-to-video" or "made-for-television" movies that she has done in that time.

The same goes for "straight-to-video perennial" Michael Brandon who offers some trivial commentary on his involvement in the film "FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET" and how after the filming wrapped, he was invited to a spooky mansion where Dario surprised him with a goodbye party. Juicy information for Dario enthusiasts, boring for everyone else who tuned in just to learn more about Dario.

The only other actress from any of Dario's films who adds her two cents to this documentary is Piper Laurie who goes into great detail about her "brilliant death scene" in "TRAUMA" where she was apparently placed on a spinning chair to make it look like she was getting her head sliced off as her head spun around.

I got a few chuckles out of Tom Savini who comments on that particular scene, and you can tell he really digs his craft with special effects.

Horror director John Carpenter, Alice Cooper, George Romero and Keith Emerson also offer further insight and their personal opinions of Dario Argento.

There are some brief notes from Dario's daughters, Asia and Fiore (both who have starred in his films). The best piece of information here is Asia explaining her nudity scene in "TRAUMA" and how she was uncomfortable with it, especially being directed by her own father and how she wasn't quite sure what was going through his mind to make him want to direct a scene like that. However, there is no animosity from either daughter toward their father and it seems like they all share a great deal of understanding.

Some small tidbits include Dario's first big break in the "spaghetti Western" genre with his screen-writing credit of the ultra-violent "ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST" which is also regarded as one of the best Western films of all time. I was also surprised that he was involved with "DAWN OF THE DEAD" as an uncredited contributer. Later, both he and George Romero would collaborate on a series of short films in the lackluster "TWO EVIL EYES".

Dario enthusiasts will get a kick out of the violent scenes that are sprinkled through the documentary from "SUSPIRIA" (the dog attacking the blind man), "PROFONDO ROSSO" (the killer getting her head sliced off after her necklace gets caught in the elevator) and of course the above-mentioned scene involving Piper Laurie getting her head lopped off.

For a one-hour documentary, this was satisfactory. However, I expected a lot more insight to Dario's career when he hit his peak in the late 70's. The narrator chose to examine the latter part of his career, which in my opinion, was and IS pretty much finished.


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