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A Tribute To Dario Argento

My Opinion

Dario Argento is often called (along with Mario Bava) the Italian Hitchcock. Argento's films are a little less subtle than Hitch's and at times quite a bit less accessible, but he has definitely left his own indelible mark on Horror in general and Euro-Horror specifically. I don't always like his style and to be honest feel he may be at times overrated. His directing style is great, but the stilted almost childish dialogue and bad acting mar his work. I know, the apologists say Argento considers actors to be like props, to be moved around as part of the scenery, I get it, but that is like writing a really good song and then hiring a really bad band to record it. Still, he warrants a tribute in my book because he has done some great work, at least atmospherically, and has been a huge influence on the genre.



Early career

Argento was born in Rome, the son of film producer/executive Salvatore Argento and Brazilian-born photographer Elda Luxardo. He started his career in film as a critic, writing for various magazines while still attending high school.

Argento did not attend college, electing rather to take a job as a columnist at the newspaper Paese Sera. While working at the newspaper, Argento also began to work as a screenwriter. His most notable work was for Sergio Leone; he and Bernardo Bertolucci collaborated on the story for the spaghetti western classic Once Upon a Time in the West. Soon after that film's release in 1969, Argento began work on his directorial debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, which was released in 1970 and was a major hit in Italy. His directing style was influenced by Mario Bava, Riccardo Freda, Sergio Leone, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Walt Disney, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, and Federico Fellini.

Giallo years

Early in his directing career, he continued to concentrate largely on the giallo genre (more precisely known as "thriller" in Italy, as the word "giallo"--Italian for yellow-- usually refers to generic mystery works). The films, like the lurid yellow-covered murder-mystery novels they were inspired by, followed the suspense tradition of hardboiled American detective fiction while incorporating baroque scenes of violence and excess. Director Mario Bava is credited with inventing the giallo film; Argento's passion in developing the genre has earned him widespread recognition as the key influence in popularising giallo cinema outside of Italy.

Argento directed two further successful thrillers, The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1972). Alongside The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, these initial three films are frequently referred to as Argento's "animal trilogy". The director then turned his attention away from giallo movies, filming two Italian TV dramas and a period comedy (Five Days in Milan) in 1973 before returning to thrillers with 1975's Deep Red, frequently cited by many critics as the best giallo ever made. The film made Argento famous internationally, and inspired a number of other directors to work in the genre (John Carpenter has frequently referred to the influence Argento's early work had on Halloween). It also marked the start of Argento's long creative relationship with composer Claudio Simonetti and his Italian progressive rock group Goblin which was highly influenced by the mythical cult french band Magma.

Supernatural years

Argento's next movie, Suspiria (1977), an extremely violent supernatural thriller, is considered by many fans to be his best work, alongside Deep Red. Freed from the constraints of the more conventional giallo format, Suspiria is a semi-surreal work of art, where plot and character become secondary to sound and vision. Argento planned for Suspiria to be the first of a trilogy about "The Three Mothers", three ancient witches residing in three different modern cities. The second movie of the trilogy was 1980's Inferno. The Mother of Tears concludes the trilogy.

In between the two "mothers", in 1978 Argento collaborated with George Romero on Dawn of the Dead, earning a producer credit on the zombie classic. Argento oversaw the European release of the film (where it was titled Zombi) which was much shorter and featured much more of the score written and performed by Goblin.

After Inferno, Argento returned to more conventional giallo with Tenebrae (1982). He then attempted to combine giallo and supernatural fantasy in Phenomena, also known as Creepers (1985), which was one of Jennifer Connelly's earliest movies. Phenomena also showed Argento's predilection for using new technology, with its many prowling Steadicam shots. Both of these movies received a lukewarm reception upon release (although each has been re-appraised retrospectively).

Argento subsequently took a break from directing to write two screenplays for Mario Bava's son Lamberto Bava, Dèmoni (1985) and Dèmoni 2 (1986).

From the late 1980s and through the 1990s

Dario Argento interviewed by Martin Sauvageau during the Festival International du Cinéma Fantastique de Montréal in 1994.Opera followed in 1987, and was, according to Argento, a "very unpleasant experience". Set in Parma's Regio Theatre during a production of Verdi's Macbeth, the movie was beset in real life by misfortunes that Argento suspected were caused by the traditional "curse" on Macbeth. Argento's father died during the production, Vanessa Redgrave dropped out of the project before filming began, he had problems working with his former long-time girlfriend and collaborator Daria Nicolodi on-set, and the cast and crew were plagued by minor accidents and mishaps. The movie was again not particularly well received by fans or critics, despite showcasing Argento's skill with color and composition, and featuring some technically impressive camera movements (the ravens' descent in the Parma opera house is considered to be one of the director's most famous set pieces).

It is widely accepted that his 1990s career and onwards has failed to live up to his golden period between Deep Red and Opera[citation needed]. A collaboration with George A. Romero on an Edgar Allan Poe anthology titled Two Evil Eyes (1990), a stab at a mainstream Hollywood production (Trauma of 1993) and a version of Phantom of the Opera (1998) lost him many fans[citation needed], but he continued to innovate. For example, his 1996 The Stendhal Syndrome, in which a policewoman (played by Argento's daughter, Asia) who suffers from a dramatized version of the illness is trapped by a serial killer in an abandoned warehouse, was the first Italian film to use computer-generated imagery (CGI). Furthermore, the opening of The Stendhal Syndrome was shot in Florence, at Italy's famed Uffizi Gallery. Argento is the only director ever granted permission to shoot there. The Stendhal Syndrome was distributed in the U.S. by cult B-movie distribution company Troma Entertainment.

In the 21st century

Many saw 2001's Sleepless, deliberately designed as a "comeback movie" with its strong giallo theme and numerous references to his earlier work, as a step back in the right direction.[citation needed] However, Argento's follow-up, 2004's The Card Player, a giallo about a killer whose murders are conducted during Internet poker matches with the Rome police, earned a mixed reception: some fans appreciated the techno music score composed by ex-Goblin member Claudio Simonetti, but felt the film was too mainstream, with little of Argento's usual flourish.

2005 saw the TV broadcast of Argento's Do You Like Hitchcock?, in which the Italian horror-meister paid homage to Alfred Hitchcock after decades of being compared to him by critics. Later that year, he directed a segment of Masters of Horror, a Showtime television series. The story, "Jenifer", based on an old Eerie comics tale by Bruce Jones, was a departure for Argento, but provided him with some of his best critical notices in several years. Soon afterwards, Argento directed an adaptation of the F. Paul Wilson short story "Pelts" for season 2 of the series.

Concluding his trilogy

Argento finished the conclusion of his Three Mothers trilogy, The Mother of Tears. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6 2007.

The film is set in Rome and centers around the titular third mother, Mater Lachrymarum. Argento and Jace Anderson share writing credits for this movie. A joint effort between the Italian Studio, Medusa, and the American Studio, Myriad Pictures (which made Jeepers Creepers) financed the production of the film, allowing Argento one of the largest, if not the largest, budgets he has ever worked with.[citation needed]

Argento's daughter Asia was cast in the lead, along with Daria Nicolodi in a supporting role. Udo Kier, who appeared in Argento's Suspiria, and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, who appeared in three of his previous films, both have pivotal roles in the final Mothers chapter.

The Return of 'Giallo'

On 26 June 2009, Argento's newest movie Giallo premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Audience reaction to the movie turned largely negative about two thirds of the way in, with most of the audience laughing mockingly at many points throughout the remaining running time at the plot's absurd twists and the stars' bad acting.

As of July 2009, Argento announced that working on the 3D remake of Profondo Rosso.

From Wikipedia


As director

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo) (1970) (Also Writer)
The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code) (1971) (Also Writer)
Four Flies on Grey Velvet (4 mosche di velluto grigio) (1971) (Also Writer)
The Five Days (Le cinque giornate) (1973) (Also Writer)
Door into Darkness (TV Series, Episodes Testimone oculare, Il tram) (1973) (Also Writer, Producer)
Deep Red (Profondo rosso) (aka The Hatchet Murders) (1975) (Also Writer)
Suspiria (1977) (Also Writer)
Inferno (1980) (Also Writer)
Tenebrae (aka Insane) (1982) (Also Writer)
Phenomena (aka Creepers) (1985) (Also Writer, Producer)
Opera (aka Terror at the Opera) (1987) (Also Writer, Producer)
Two Evil Eyes ([[Two Evil Eyes|Due occhi diabolici}}) (Segment, The Black Cat) (1990) (Also Writer, Executive Producer)
Trauma (1993) (Also Writer, Producer)
The Stendhal Syndrome (La sindrome di Stendhal) (1996) (Also Writer, Producer)
The Phantom of the Opera (Il fantasma dell'opera) (1998) (Also Writer)
Sleepless (Non ho sonno) (2001) (Also Writer, Producer)
The Card Player (Il cartaio) (2004) (Also Writer, Producer)
Do You Like Hitchcock? ([[Do You Like Hitchcock?}Ti piace Hitchcock?]]) (2005) (Also Writer)
Masters of Horror (TV Series, Episode Jenifer) (2005)
Masters of Horror (TV Series, Episode Pelts) (2006)
The Mother of Tears (2007) (Also Writer, Producer)
Giallo (2009)

As writer (not director)

Scusi, Lei è favorevole o contrario? (1967)
Every Man Is My Enemy (Qualcuno ha tradito) (1967)
Heroes Never Die (Les Héros ne Meurent Jamais) (1968)
Once Upon a Time in the West (C'era una volta il West) (1968) (Story)
Today It's Me... Tomorrow It's You! (Oggi a me... domani a te!) (1968)
Comandamenti per un Gangster (1968)
Commandos (1968)
La Rivoluzione sessuale (The Sexual Revolution) (1968)
Cemetery Without Crosses (Une Corde, un Colt) (1969)
Love Circle (Metti una sera a cena) (aka One Night at Dinner) (1969)
Probabilità Zero (1969)
Legion of the Damned (La legione dei dannati) (aka Battle of the Commandos) (1969)
The Five Man Army (Un esercito di cinque uomini) (1969)
Season of the Senses (La stagione dei sensi') (1969)
Man Called Amen (Così sia (1972)
Demons (Dèmoni) (1985) (Also Producer)
Demons 2 (Demoni 2) (1986) (Also Producer)
The Church (La Chiesa) (aka Demons 3) (1989) (Also Producer)
The Sect (La Setta) (aka Demons 4) (1991) (Also Producer)
The Wax Mask (M.D.C. - Maschera di cera) (1997) (Story) (Also Producer)

As producer (neither writer nor director)

Door into Darkness (Episode La bambola) (1973)
Dawn of the Dead (Zombi) (1978)
Turno di Notte (TV Series) (1987)
Scarlet Diva (2000)

My Reviews

Bird With the Crystal Plumage, The (1970)- Argento’s debut as a director finds him copping a lot from Hitch, but not in a bad way. We have an American tourist in Rome who witnesses attempted murder, becomes a suspect, clears his name, and then becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of who was trying to kill the woman. Twists and turns abound (along with some dead ends that don’t make much sense upon reflection) and we wind up with a very satisfying murder mystery. Yeah, there are some plot holes, and some bad dubbing, to be expected really, but for the most part of you like Euro-Giallo Hitch like flicks then this is a must see. A

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)- Argento, obviously influenced as always by Hitchcock, weaves a tale of mystery and murder. A musician feels he is being followed by someone, and when he confronts his stalker he accidentally kills him. Someone happens to photograph the killing but instead of turning him in, the photographer instead uses the incident to try and drive the musician crazy, as more people get involved, more people die until the big reveal at the end. Like Hitch, Argento throws in the element of humor amidst the mayhem and also surrounds the musician with some oddly colorful characters. This is a strong outing for Argento in my opinion. Great direction, camera use, color use, characters, the things folks like about Argento are here, but without the negatives he brings to his flicks at times (although the bit about photographing a dead person’s eye to see the last image they’ve seen seems pretty dumb and why didn’t they use that on the others who had been killed? But you can’t think too much about any Argento flick!) I’m giving this a strong A, if you like Italian Giallo this is almost a must see.

Deep Red (1975): Dario Argento's Giallo piece obviously influenced by Mario Bava and obviously influential towards Carpenter's "Halloween"; It sits squarely between those two worlds, murder mystery and slasher flick. The directing is very interesting as Argento's use of color, camera angle, and point of view is always good (and must have been a big influence on John Carpenter), but his jarring editing and often intentional slow pace and over written scenes detract from the suspense rather than add to it. The plot is flimsy at best and hard to follow at times and centers around a pianist who witnesses the murder of a psychic who, through her ESP, knew about a murderer's past and that he/she would kill again. Anyone who gets close to the truth winds up dead. The investigations take bizarre and pointless turns yet somehow I hung in there until the end. This was an influential flick that held my interest but could've been better. B-.

Suspiria (1977)- Quite a while back I watched this movie expecting one of the greatest horror movies ever as I had read so many great reviews. I ended up all but hating it. I have been revisiting some of those types of movies recently and thought it was time to revisit "Suspiria". The plot revolves around an American girl who goes to a famous ballet school to perfect her art, the night she arrives there is a brutal double murder and it slowly becomes apparent all is not what it seems at the school which, it turns out, is run by a coven of witches. Argento often leaves behind the narrative to focus on the look and sound of his films, and in that regard this truly is a masterpiece. He use of bright Technicolor throughout is amazing, as are the set pieces and camera work. Simply put this flick ‘looks’ amazing, but the awesomeness ends there. I really love a lot of Argento’s stuff, but seriously, to be classified as a truly all around great director you really should be able to get better performances out of the actors and realize when dialogue is stilted and phony sounding, and that is where "Suspiria" gets chopped. The acting and dialogue are just piss poor. I know that isn’t the focus, but if everything in this movie would’ve been exactly the same but with good acting and dialogue then you truly have a full masterpiece. No, the story really makes no sense at all; I can ignore that easily enough since I don’t believe in witches anyway (at least not these types of witches), but for me this film just never rises above ‘great looking’. If you like really well done suspense, and great looking setup ‘parts’ and aren’t worried too much about acting and dialogue then I highly recommend this, otherwise view with caution. What would I have thought if I hadn’t read so many accolades about this movie prior to seeing it? Hard to say, for look and ‘feel’ only I would give it an A, but for acting, story and dialogue a D, so I suppose I could average it to a B-, and I feel that might be generous. I’m sorry "Suspiria" fans, I still feel this one is over rated.

Dawn of the Dead (Zombi) (1978)- Dario Argento would help finance Romero’s "Dawn of the Dead" if he could do his own European edit and keep all the European profits. A match made in horror heaven! This is the same flick as Romero’s but with a different soundtrack (provided by Argento’s favorite band The Goblins) and ‘some’ of the ‘American’ humor removed. For instance we still get the zombies tumbling down the escalator to Muzak, but we don’t get the zombies walking into the helicopter rotors. The movie has a faster paced ‘feel’ to it and in some points the new soundtrack adds to the suspense, but in some spots actually detracts from it, sounding very techno 70s dated, which of course it is. I didn’t watch the two versions back to back so it’s hard for me to say which I liked better. As it stands I’d just say this one is a little different, not really better or worse, which means it gets an A+.

Inferno (1980)- Argento’s sort of sequel to "Suspiria". Apparently the Suspiria witch wasn’t the only one, there are two more, and this one revolves around the second... I guess. There really is no coherent plot. A woman stumbles across a book about the 3 witches, they apparently had an architect build them each a building in different countries, from which they will rule the world. This lady realizes she lives in one of the buildings, she calls her brother who is studying music in Rome, and he rushes to help her and is tossed into a bizarre nightmare world of murder and witchcraft. This is a strange one and has a lot of bad acting in it to boot, but if you like movies that ‘look’ good, well then here you go. This is a beautifully filmed movie (I think that is the first time I’ve ever used that phrase, I will try and make it the last), the color saturation, the long shots of the maze like apartments, the exteriors and the use of the moon, clouds, and rain. Everything is based on a look and atmosphere, little or no time was spent on dialogue or story, and you can tell this was done on purpose. If you don’t mind sacrificing the narrative for the look, then this is for you, if you hate that approach I recommend you stay far far away! I liked this but wouldn’t say it was the masterpiece some say it is. If Argento is such a great director how come he can’t get good performances out of his actors? I know that’s not where he focuses his attention, but if the acting was just a little more believable this could’ve been amazing. A

Tenebre (1982)- Argento returns to Giallo with this flick and fairly good results. Although not strikingly original (the plot is pretty similar to "Bird with the Crystal Plumage") the results are pretty good. A writer is on a book tour in Rome when murders that seem to resemble the ones in his books begin, and he is obviously a target as well. I was pretty sure I had it figured out half way through, obvious red herring aside, but like a lot of these films, there is really no way you could figure it out in the end, they always find a way to trick (or cheat) you. This is typical Argento, great use of the camera, interesting angles, and impossible plot developments, all to be expected. There is nothing that really stands out about this flick, suffice it to say if you like Italian murder mystery flicks you should like this one. I’ll give it a B, pretty good, but not much above average.

Creepers (1984)- Let me get this plot laid out. The daughter of a famous actor transfers to an all girls' school in the Swiss Alps. Several months prior there had been a brutal unsolved murder. We learn early on that a bee has never stung her. Her first night at the school she sleepwalks and while asleep 'witnesses' another brutal murder. She winds up at the kindly old entomologists house. He's wheel chair bound but has a chimpanzee for a 'nurse'. He is amazed at the girl's odd relationship with his collection of insects and teaches her how to wake herself up while sleepwalking. The next night her roommate sneaks out (no one seems overly concerned that there is a serial killer preying on the girls). Again the main character begins sleepwalking but wakes herself up before going outside. She ends up outside though to find her roommate has been killed. A firefly (we call them lightnin'bugs in these here parts) leads her to a glove the killer wore.(?) She takes the glove to the kindly entomologist and explains how she found it. He comes to the conclusion she can communicate telepathically with insects. (?) To prove this, and to find the killer, he gives her a 'sarcophagus fly' and tells her it will lead her to the killer. Instead it leads her to the house where the killer used to live. Close but no cigar. The girl decides she wants out of this school, especially since the other girls have found out she thinks she can communicate with insects so they start ripping on her. She contacts her father's agent and begs him to get her out of there. This leads us to a pretty intense and insane conclusion where the killer is revealed, a couple times, and all Hell breaks lose. This is typical Dario Argento fair. Young girl in isolated situation, killers, odd behavior, and a need to suspend all belief and never ask 'why' or 'what', and also lots of heads going through plate glass windows in slow motion. Despite the insane plot and huge plot holes this movie is pretty good. It is well-acted and well directed, 'artsy' enough to be interesting but not so 'artsy' you lose what's going on. A-

Demons (1985)- A classic Argento/Lamberto Bava 80s piece of work! And that’s the best backhanded compliment I can muster. Someone in a weird Halloween mask is handing out tickets to a premier at a weird old theatre. It’s a horror movie that suddenly comes to life in the theatre with people turning into demons all over the place. Think ‘Evil Dead’ in a theatre, toss in a bunch of stereotypes (black pimp and his ‘hos’, helpless blind guy [at a movie?], introvert smart girls, coked up punks), and you have this one. It’s a fun entry with some over the top gore, bad acting, and hilarious dialogue. Worth a viewing if you like 80s insanity or want a good MST3K flick. I’ll give it an A on the craptacular scale.

Church, The (1989)- Back in the day Teutonic Knights attack and kill everyone, men, women, children, and animals, in a village. They have reason to believe the villagers are possessed and worship Satan. They feel, after the massacre that the only way to contain the evil is to build a large cathedral over the hole containing the bodies of the villagers. Jump ahead to modern times and a new librarian at the now old gothic cathedral figures out the old church has something to hide. He wants the power or riches buried there so he removes the "Stone with 7 eyes" and unleashes the evil and everyone, from church workers to worshippers, to those touring the old cathedral, are overtaken by it. This movie moves along at a respectable pace and has some really good atmosphere, as well as some bad acting and unintentional laughs. It borrows heavily from John Carpenter’s "Prince of Darkness" and also tosses in elements of "Rosemary’s Baby" near the end. I was a little disappointed in this one as I expected a little more form it with Argento on board as producer/writer. (So were the Teutonic Knights right in killing the villagers? And exactly how does SPOILER ALERT collapsing the church contain the evil?) C+.

Two Evil Eyes (1990)- What?!? Argento and Romero both direct a short based on a Poe story?!? What’s not to love?!? Right?!? Well, not quite. This is a pretty good flick, but not nearly as good as it would seem on paper. Tale 1 by Romero has a woman who married a rich old man bilking him for his money as he dies. She is in cahoots with the old man’s doctor who uses hypnosis to make the old man basically sign everything over to the lady, things go downhill when the old man dies before everything has been transferred, but the bigger issue is the old man was hypnotized when he died, leaving him in a nether world between living and dead. Not a bad concept over-all and it was executed fairly well, just too long, you could tell it was being stretched a tad too much, I’ll give it a B-. Tale 2 is Argento’s take on The Black Cat. A crime scene photographer, who happens to also be a published art photographer (?) living with a famous violinist, is loosing his mind from all the bizarre crime scene photos he has to take. He kills his girlfriend’s cat (while taking pictures of it for a book he then publishes almost instantaneously) , she wants to leave him ,he has a very bizarre dream, and things spiral out of control. This is really typical Argento, all style, but not much substance. I’ll give it a C+, I’d grade it higher but the dream sequence was ill-conceived. Tough to average a B- and C+ so I’ll say over-all it was a strong C+ effort.

Trauma (1993)- There was a time when Dario Argento was way ahead of the curve in the horror genre. Like them or not ‘Deep Red’ and ‘Suspiria’ were at the very least ahead of their time, ‘Trauma’ feels about 15 years too late! A ‘slasher’ is out to exact revenge on folks, and as pieces of the puzzle are slowly brought together, we find out why, but by then we don’t really care all that much. The story revolves around Aura played horribly by Argento’s daughter. She’s 17 and tries to commit suicide as she’s been in some clinic for some reason. Her mom is a medium and a killer is on the loose and Aura gets protected by an artist who does caricatures for news shows, I think. Just not sure what Argento was going for here as this one really just boils down to being silly. Not poorly directed, just kind of dumb. I’ll give it a middle C. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t much like it either. Remove some of the sex and violence and it would feel like a made for TV mystery of the week.

Stendhal Syndrome, The (1996)- Here we have a young female police detective who is investigating a serial rapist who has recently moved up to murder. She also suffers from Stendhal Syndrome, a condition that causes her to be overwhelmed by works of art. She hallucinates (both auditory and visual) and even pictures herself entering the paintings, which makes her investigation a tad tougher. She eventually catches up with the rapist, or maybe it is the other way around, and is brutally raped and tortured. So do you wind up with a revenge flick in the vein of "I Spit on Your Grave"? Sort of, but in an Argento sort of way, I don’t want to give much more away. To me this felt like three flicks all rolled into one. The first is almost surreal as we explore the Stendhal Syndrome and its effects on the detective, then we shift to the sadistic middle, and finally end with a mystery which, despite a red herring or two, is very easy to figure out. I found myself loosing interest at times to be honest but for the most part this is a gripping and heinous ride. Not one for the faint of heart (despite there really being very little gore) it is brutal in its depictions of rape and violence. ‘Look-wise’ it is a very subdued film for Argento, there are the surreal painting images, and images of pills being swallowed (actually swallowed from the inside!), but there isn’t the wash of color and point of view camera work, there is the typical stilted dialogue and spots of bad acting, but for the most part this was a pretty good study of brutal misogyny and slipping into insanity. I’ll give it a B+.

Sleepless (2001)- I’m curious how many times Argento can make the same movie. Here we have a mysterious serial killer called ‘The Dwarf’. He killed four women 17 years ago and was believed killed, but when the murders start back up again can the detective who solved the case all those years ago do it again, or did he in fact solve the case all those years ago. Argento gets some of his old school style back, and The Goblins return to provide a soundtrack that would’ve been perfect 25 years prior to 2001 and you can’t help but feel ‘I’ve seen this before’. But if you can get through the first 30 minutes of nameless hookers running around and if you can completely suspend belief when you realize who the killer is and how impossible the entire thing would be (like all Argento flicks really), then this isn’t a bad one. I damn near turned it off about 30 minutes in but I ended up getting pulled into the mystery and stuck it out. Was it worth it? Not really but just getting pulled in is more or less what it’s all about so I’ll give it a B- just for that. Plus I like Max Von Sydow, even though he’s the only one in the whole movie that can act.

Card Player, The (2004)- OK, this one is just plain silly. A serial killer kidnaps gals and then plays video poker with the police for the gals’ lives. The cops are dumbfounded as to how to play video poker so they go out and find a kid who is really good at it because he keeps any two-of-a-kinds he gets, genius kid! The kid tries to convince the cops that it is really just luck, that video poker requires absolutely no skill what so ever since you can’t bet and can’t bluff and in this version the killer can see what hand he needs to beat when it is his turn. The cops don’t buy it and when the kid beats the serial killer once they throw a frickin’ huge party with food and tons of champagne, I guess they thought if they beat the guy once he’d stop killing gals. I have no idea. And don’t miss the profilers for the cops, awesome, they have it narrowed down to someone 30 to 35, male or female, who likes to drag race cars and play Russian Roulette. What?!?! Then we have the ‘go it alone, don’t call for backup, and even though you have a good lead don’t tell anyone else in case you get killed’ cop which all leads to an awesome conclusion involving a speeding train and a woman tied to railroad tracks, yeah there’s more hilarity but I will leave it at that. The only shocker is that I had it figured out halfway through and I wasn’t wrong because Argento didn’t throw in his usual ‘impossible to see coming’ twist at the end. Hilarious plot, terrible dialogue, even worse dubbing, and bad acting, yeah this is Argento all right. Man, I hate to do it but I am going to give this an A. An A on the craptacular scale. Sorry Argento, I do respect your work, but this is juts so bad it’s good.

Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005)- Argento goes full on Hitchcock tribute mode in the made for Italian TV movie. It does have that ‘made for TV’ feel, the death scenes aren’t nearly as gory as typical Argento (or as long), although European TV is much more liberal than American. This is a flick about a film student who likes watching his neighbors (a la "Rear Window"), particularly one who prances around in her underwear. This gal is always arguing with her mother and when her mother winds up dead he figures the daughter had someone kill her (a la "Strangers on a Train"), a few plot twists later (a la "Dial M for Murder") and we find out the student was wrong... or was he? The Hitch references are literally held out there by name and that is the whole point, however, this movie never measures up to anything Hitch did! It’s OK as a made for TV tribute, but if you are expecting great Italian Giallo, or Argento atmosphere you will be disappointed. Some of the ‘suspense’ scenes just drag on forever and while Hitch may have never wasted a shot; there are plenty of wasted shots in this one. Not horrible, but nothing special either. I’ll give it a C+.

Mother of Tears (2007)- The long wait for the third in Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy finally brought us the Mother of Tears, and I can’t help but feel Argento totally sold us out on this one. The other two (Suspiria and Inferno), while not the masterpieces some would have you believe in my opinion, were at least stylish, with the use of color, camera angle, and light and dark and wild swings from over the top violence to subtle details. This one throws all that away to give us gore, tit shots, and silly plot and goofy special effects, all wrapped up with a mess of bad acting. The plot? An urn is discovered outside of Rome, it contains what will be needed to return the third mother to power, witches begin to descend on Rome and chaos ensues. A woman who’s mother fought the first mother has powers to see ghosts, but is a rationalist and must be convinced of her powers by a lesbian and some guy who is apparently an alchemist. Whatever. If you like stylish Euro- horror check out "Suspiria" and "Inferno", leave this one alone. F.