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Updated by Love-It Loud on Aug 02, 2014
Headline for Five Must See Dario Argento Movies
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Five Must See Dario Argento Movies


Following their collaboration as director and actress on Profondo Rosso, Argento and Daria Nicolodi worked closely together on the screenplay for their next project, a supernatural mystery entitled Suspiria. Horror and surrealism have long gone hand-in-hand and for his sixth feature film Argento indulged in the avant-garde, sacrificing character development and plot structure for mesmerising colours, beautiful cinematography and haunting music, all laced with a sadistic violent streak that would become commonplace a few years later with the slasher boom of the early 1980s. Inspired by stories Nicolodi had been told as a child by her grandmother of an acting academy where the teachers practised black magic, Suspiria follows American student Suzy Bannion as she begins to suspect that the German ballet school she has taken residence at is a haven for witches.

DEEP RED (aka Profondo Rosso) (1975)

Following three complex thrills that the Italian media had labelled as gialli, Argento attempted to avoid being typecast with his next project by moving away from the horror genre and embracing comedy with 1973's Le cinque giornate (aka The Five Days of Milan). Failing to achieve the success of his earlier pictures, Argento returned to the giallo format two years later with Profondo Rosso, the story of a music teacher who witnesses a murder and tries to put the pieces together while striking up an unusual friendship with a young ambitious reporter. Released as Deep Red in the United States, Profondo Rosso would mark the beginning of a relationship between Argento and actress Daria Nicolodi that would not only result in Suspiria but also a daughter, Asia Argento.

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (aka L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo) (1970)

Having worked as a writer-for-hire for Sergio Leone on his 1968 epic western C'era una volta il West (aka Once Upon a Time in the West), Argento made the reluctant decision to direct his next script, a loose reworking of Fredric Brown's The Screaming Mimi. With Mario Bava having laid out the groundwork for the giallo several years earlier with La ragazza che sapeva troppo (aka The Girl Who Knew Too Much), Argento chose to refine this formula with L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo, also known as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. With this film he would create the archetypal Argento thriller: a foreigner who witnesses a murderer and is forced to work with a detective in order to both prove his innocence and solve a mystery before becoming a victim himself.


By the dawn of the 1980s Dario Argento had become a regular target of critics and feminists who felt the treatment of women in his movies, often brutally murdered in a state of near-undress, was nothing but exploitation. His response to this had merely been, 'If they have a good face and a good figure, I would much rather watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or man.' But with 1982's Tenebrae he decided to make a statement on how violent art influences real life, with a serial killer targeting a succession of beautiful women by tearing pages from the novels of American author Peter Neal and forcing them down the throats of his victims. 'Why do you despise women so much?' one reporter asks Neal during an interview. Despite the self-reflective tone, Tenebrae would fall four of the British censors and, along with several other Italian productions - including Argento's own Inferno - would be labelled a 'video nasty.'


The 1980s had become something of a watershed for Dario Argento. While many fans still consider his work from this era, specifically Tenebrae and Opera, to be quintessential Argento, his films had begun to suffer from poor dubbing and tedious heavy metal soundtracks, but 1985's Phenomena was as inspired as it was flawed. Jennifer Connelly, shortly before finding international stardom with Labyrinth, was cast as the daughter of a famous writer joins a Swiss school who witnesses a murder and, in a moment of panic, becomes lost in the woods where she meets John McGregor, a reclusive entomology who assists the police in their investigations. Phenomena, released heavily censored in the United States under the alternative title Creepers, was also notable for being the only Argento film to feature screen icon Donald Pleasence.