Category Archives: Dario Argento



Director Dario Argento

Starring Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi

Scott’s Review #1,372

Reviewed June 27, 2023

Grade: B+

Any fan of famous Italian horror director Dario Argento knows to expect a visual extravaganza from his films. They reek of color and a weird atmosphere that makes them distinguishable from other less crafty directors and that’s worth a lot to a cinema fan.

Inferno (1980) is no exception but to be fair the plot is brutal to follow as the visuals easily surpass the storytelling. On the flip side, despite being set mainly in New York City, Inferno has a definitive Italian vibe.

And why shouldn’t it since it’s shrouded in Italian creativity?

Fans of Argento will know what I’m saying and leap into the film as I did, immersed in art direction rather than a defined plot.

The film is the second in his “Three Mothers” trilogy, and Inferno focuses on a Manhattan apartment building inhabited by a deadly spirit that murders the tenants in sadistic ways.

The other two films in the collection are Suspiria (1977) and Mother of Tears (2007).

When a poet named Rose (Irene Miracle) discovers a book that suggests she’s living in a building built for one of three evil sisters to rule the world, she begs her brother Mark (Leigh McCloskey) to visit her from Rome.

But when he arrives, she’s disappeared without a trace. Mark encounters several creepy characters as he attempts to unravel the mystery and find his sister either dead or alive.

It takes some time to figure out who the main character is supposed to be. Is it Rose, Mark, Mark’s friend Sara, or Rose’s neighbor, Elise? Before long three of the four are sliced into bits.

The kills are superior with my personal favorite being the death of one character guillotined with the glass of a broken window. This is nearly usurped by a pack of snarling cats attacking another victim with murder on their minds.

As a cat lover, this made me grin with pleasure.

As alluded to earlier, the story is simply too hard to follow. Therefore, the showdown between the main character and the witch is a letdown and it is uncertain what becomes of the witch.

I also desired to see the witch more.

But maybe I just wasn’t paying too close attention. The gorgeous sets caught my attention more than any plot point did.

I was especially enamored by the gothic New York City apartment set which takes center stage during most of the film. The blue velvet curtains and dimly lit corridors combined with desolate corners and few inhabitants made me want to stay there.

Especially appealing is a secret hole in the wall that carries sounds throughout the behemoth building.

The colors and the camerawork successfully add eerie and memorable sequences. One can easily dine on a bright green wall and gush over a deep blood-red drape or shadow.

The gloomy and downright scary underwater sequence when Rose dives to grasp a secret key is brilliant camerawork.

Alida Valli, so good as one of the witches in Suspiria, makes her return in Inferno but in a limited part. As Carol, an employee of the apartment building, she has little substance to do, and adding insult to injury Valli’s voice is dubbed by an American voice.

Sure, it’s not the best in the Argento collection and Suspiria will always remain my number one but Inferno (1980) is for the Argento fans only. I wouldn’t suggest it for the novice fan nor stress that one needs to see the trilogy in order.

The labyrinthine settings and the elaborate deaths are what make the film a winner.

Mother of Tears-2007

Mother of Tears-2007

Director Dario Argento

Starring Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno

Scott’s Review #1,360

Reviewed May 13, 2023

Grade: B+

Mother of Tears (2007) is a film I have a great fondness for and I’ll never forget its debut in my life. It is the very first film my husband and I saw in a movie theater together. So, I’m pretty partial to the nostalgic feeling it emotes on a personal level.

Both fans of esteemed horror director Dario Argento, we cohabitated in the dusty art theater one rainy Saturday evening following a delicious Italian dinner on one of our first dates.

The atmosphere was nearly as perfect as an Argento film itself since he is known for operatic, visceral, and visual perfections.

The film is the concluding installment of Argento’s supernatural horror trilogy The Three Mothers, preceded by Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), and depicts the confrontation with the final “Mother” witch, known as Mater Lachrymarum.

Grisly deaths await several unlucky Italian citizens after an American archaeology student named Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento) innocently releases a demonic witch from her ancient prison. A mysterious urn comes into her possession and when attempted to be restored at the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome, all hell breaks loose.

Sarah harbors a personal connection to the witch since her mother was once embroiled in a feud with her.

Making Mother of Tears a family affair and comfort for viewers of Argento’s work, daughter Asia plays the lead character while younger brother Claudio co-produces the picture along with Dario.

Religion is always a fun theme in horror, especially in the oft-targeted Roman Catholic church. Like The Exorcist did in 1973, and many other horror films followed over the years, the religion is mocked in the kindest of ways.

As an ode to previous works involving children, a child is massacred and more than one baby is sacrificed in the name of Mater Lachrymarum so be forewarned if this is a dealbreaker for some.

Who doesn’t enjoy a coven of witches flocking down on Rome screeching at passerby folks and wreaking havoc on the sacred city now overcrowded with demons?

For the bloodthirsty types who crave a healthy dose of bloodletting Mother of Tears lets the floodgates spill wide open. One poor woman is speared through her private area and upwards while another’s mouth and face are expanded until they pop. Several eyes are violently gouged.

You get the idea.

Recommended is to watch Suspiria and Inferno first for chronological ease but this is not a must and a stand-alone viewing will do just fine.

Nothing can match the sheer madness and visual mastery of 1977’s Suspiria and Mother of Tears is the weakest of the three films but this is not a gripe merely a comparison. They work well together and the final confrontation involving Sarah and Mater Lachrymarum’s fight over a red tunic is the highlight.

The dark texture of the filming mixed with glowing lights and red colors are easily noticeable. This aligns nicely with religious or occult characters like a monsignor, cardinal, and various witches.

The film, though American-made, feels Italian and is quite authentic. Further, it naturally sits well with films of Argento’s heyday, the 1970s, and 1980s. Most if not all actors appear to be Italian or European adding flavor and culture to the experience.

If one has traveled to Rome, many exterior shots of the ancient city appear adding to the enjoyment. Sarah ravages the streets and scurries through the vast train station in one powerful sequence. Since trains are the main mode of transportation in Italy viewers can transport themselves back to a previous trip.

To know Dario Argento is to love him. Mother of Tears (2007) may not measure up to his very best works but it is an entertaining and enthralling visit to the macabre world.

It may or may not win over new fans but it will satisfy existing fans of the director.

Two Evil Eyes-1990

Two Evil Eyes-1990

Director George Romero, Dario Argento

Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Harvey Keitel

Scott’s Review #1,239

Reviewed March 26, 2022

Grade: B+

Two legendary masters of horror, American director George Romero, famous for zombie films, and Italian director Dario Argento, famous for stylistic horror,  team up to create a thrilling double-bill horror feast.

For fans of the genre, the idea is titillating, to say the least, and the follow-through is a robust success. There is a gnawing television film feel to each of the films that is eventually usurped by the reminder that grand directors are at the helm.

Cleverly, they base their films on the works of the poet Edgar Allan Poe, famous for writing poems and short stories of the macabre and peculiar. ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar’ (1990) and ‘The Black Cat’ (1990) are the featured tales.

Having seen many Argento and Romero works with Suspiria (1977) and Dawn of the Dead (1978) being my respective favorites, the fun is seeing how each film contains familiar aspects of each with a sprinkling of the 1960 Hitchcock masterpiece, Psycho, thrown in for good measure.

Fun fact- Psycho star Martin Balsam appears in ‘The Black Cat’ story.

In the first feature, ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar’, Adrienne Barbeau plays an ex-flight attendant named Jessica who plots with her lover Dr. Robert Hoffman (Ramy Zada) for her elderly husband’s money. While liquidating large amounts of cash, her husband’s lawyer grows suspicious and warns her there will be consequences should her husband die in the next three weeks.

Naturally, he does, and events grow weird and terrifying.

In the second film, ‘The Black Cat, Harvey Keitel plays an unlikeable man named Rod Usher who works as a crime scene photographer. He suffers the consequences when he viciously kills his girlfriend’s cat. In his attempts to rid himself of both his girlfriend and the cat, they continue to reappear, much to his chagrin. With two detectives on his tail, the finale is both grim and satisfying.

If forced to choose, I am more partial to ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar’ and this is mostly to do with the casting of Barbeau of whom I am a big fan. It’s also the winner of the two as far as the unexpected conclusion goes.

Barbeau carries the film, short at only an hour or so, and infuses likeability into a character who could easily be dismissed as a gold-digging bitch. Jessica feels some sensitivity and truly wants no harm done to her husband, she only desires some money. After all, in her mind, she deserves the payoff for having married an old man.

Romero’s influence is apparent but not as much as Argento’s is in ‘The Black Cat’. A gruesome scene at the conclusion when a character’s decomposing body lumbers forward immediately brought me back to the zombie delights of ‘Dawn of the Dead.

The music in the opening credits reminds me of Argento films in general. A mysterious high-pitched synthesizer sound peppers the experience with horrific beats that are highly effective.

I did not enjoy the prevalent cat torture scenes that appear in ‘The Black Cat’ and these are tough to sit through. I was somewhat encouraged by the knowledge that the dead cat does enact revenge on its torturer in the end.

I chuckled at the numerous references to ‘Psycho’ mostly when Balsam’s character of Mr. Pym appears. When the man climbs a flight of stairs it’s a similar scene in ‘Psycho’ with a deadlier result. Another scene of draining shower water immediately conjures up the legendary shower scene in ‘Psycho’.

Casting heavyweights like Barbeau, Keitel, Balsam, Tom Atkins, John Amos, and Kim Hunter provide credibility to a project that could easily have been dismissed as a throwaway horror double-feature.

The experience is much better than that as the compelling nature and thrills by the minute will keep the audience invested and longing to know what happens next.

‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar’ (1990) and ‘The Black Cat’ (1990) effectively team two of the best horror directors out there in dedication to the best horror poet.

Perhaps a longer duration for each film might have allowed time for more character exploration but the results are just fine.

Masters of Horror: Dario Argento: Pelts-2006

Masters of Horror: Dario Argento: Pelts-2006

Director Dario Argento

Starring Meat Loaf, John Saxon

Scott’s Review #600

Reviewed January 10, 2017

Grade: C+

For those unfamiliar with Masters of Horror, this was a spectacular horror series that aired during the mid-2000s featuring vignettes of superlative horror chapters- famed Italian horror maestro, Dario Argento directed two such chapters during the series run.

Pelts is an okay story, but unspectacular, and only for die-hard Argento fans.

The chapter is quite gory and extreme (this is the main positive) and stars Meatloaf (the singer) and John Saxon (from Nightmare on Elm Street 1984, and Black Christmas-1974).

The story centers around a fur trader named Jake Feldman, who encounters a fellow fur trader offering raccoon skin.

Eager to make money and impress a stripper, Jake leaps at the chance, with dire results.

This episode of Masters of Horror is not for the squeamish. If you are a fan of raccoons this might be up your alley.

My slight disappointment in this chapter merely comes from my utter love for some of the other chapters, and this one pales in comparison.



Director Dario Argento

Starring Jessica Harper, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli

Top 100 Films #54     Top 20 Horror Films #14

Scott’s Review #339


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Suspiria is a horror masterpiece, made in 1977, by my favorite Italian horror director, Dario Argento.

A combination of complex storytelling, glossy colors, and a unique art direction, makes this film a treasure and an influence in “the look” of a film attempting to achieve an interesting art direction choice.

The color red is highly prevalent throughout Suspiria, which makes sense due to the subject matter of witchcraft and demons. The musical score is brilliant and chilling.

This film is perfect and one of my favorites.

The film takes place in Germany and the opening sequence is fantastic. We meet our heroine, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), an American ballet student, as she arrives in blustery Munich to attend a prestigious ballet school.

The shot of the driving wind and rain as she exits the airport is a great example of the ultimate style of this film.

Suzy meets a creepy taxi driver who drives her to the school, where she witnesses a frantic student, Pat Hingle, fleeing the school. Suzy is then denied access to the school by a mysterious voice over the intercom.  The focus of the film then shifts briefly to Pat’s perspective as she meets a sinister fate when she stays with a friend.

One fantastic aspect of Suspiria is we know something is wrong with the ballet academy, we just do not know what or who it involves. With great creativity, Dario Argento builds a set that is modern, and sophisticated but laced with an underlying menace.

As we meet the supporting characters, Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) and Miss Tanner (Alida Valli), we know something is not right with them either. Blanc is kindhearted; Tanner is a drill sergeant, but both seem to have something to hide and claim to know nothing of Pat’s terror.

There is also Daniel, the blind piano player, whose seeing-eye dog suddenly turns vicious.

The plot is complex and does not always make perfect sense, but the elements of Suspiria make it a masterpiece.  Pat’s death scene is laced with greatness as she dangles from a high glass ceiling dripping blood. Her hysterical friend is sliced to bits by the falling glass.

This is the best double-death scene in horror film history.

When creepy maggots invade the school leaving the girls feeling for safety, the film goes all out. A later scene involving Suzy’s best friend and fellow student, Sarah, attempting to flee the school via the basement, only to struggle in a pit of razor wire is splendid.

Much of Suspiria is dubbed in English mainly due to the actors either speaking German or Italian, but Jessica Harper and Joan Bennett have distinguishable voices, which lend texture and richness to the dialogue.

Suspiria (1977) is a grand horror film, not solely for its mysterious story, but for all the added components that Argento throws into the mix- strange characters, weird sets, and the heavy dose of blood-red- pretty fitting.

Argento’s Dracula-2012

Argento’s Dracula-2012

Director Dario Argento

Starring Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini

Scott’s Review #158


Reviewed August 22, 2014

Grade: C-

As a huge fan of Dario Argento, his classic horror films such as Suspiria (1977) and Deep Red (1975) would surely land in my Top fifty of all time, not just in the horror genre, this film is a bit of a mess.

The story, as I understand it, involves a young man named Harker, who is hired by Count Dracula to work in his castle as a Librarian. His wife Mina arrives later in the story and is the focal point of the film from that point on.

Another female named Tania rises from the dead to seduce and bite Harker. Dracula intervenes and wants to claim Harker as his own. From this point on, Harker’s wife Mina attempts to look for her husband within the halls of Dracula’s castle.

The plot is difficult to keep track of, not compelling, and not one of Argento’s finest efforts.

An homage to Hammer horror films of the 1950s and 1960s, the film comes across as too campy, poorly performed, and some miscasts among the actors.

The actor who plays Count Dracula is not convincing and seems a strange choice for the part- too nice looking?

It feels like Argento did not know whether to make the film serious or go for being completely over the top. Since when can Dracula change forms into a grasshopper, owl, and other creatures besides a bat?

Other characters like the Priest were introduced for no other purpose than to be killed.

On the positive side, the art direction is amazing. The film is filled with creepy sets, especially inside the mansion, and has a distinct 1970s feel to it. The ambiance is highly effective at portraying a spooky, dark setting.

All in all, though, Argento’s Dracula (2012) is a disappointing experience, and much better films of the same subject matter have been covered in the past.



Director Dario Argento

Starring Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson

Scott’s Review #104


Reviewed July 11, 2014

Grade: B+

Opera is a 1987 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento.

The story revolves around a theatrical production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” as the understudy takes on the lead role of Lady Macbeth after the star is hit by a car, and strange and horrific events begin to occur.

The film contains traditional Argento elements- stylistic, extreme close-ups, and weird camera angles.

Members of the cast are systematically murdered as the killer forces the film’s heroine to watch- aided by a device which, if she blinks, sharp nails will go through her eyes.

The ending is killer- no pun intended. I love surprise endings in horror films and this one was dynamite.

My main criticism of the film is the horrendous dubbing, which distracted me a great deal. It has a muffled, hard-to-hear quality to it and no subtitles.

I’d rather it have been available in Italian with English subtitles. The film needs to be upgraded to Blu-ray ASAP.

Another odd aspect of the film is the mixture of operatic music with heavy metal music with each kill. It did not seem to fit the film at all.

Not Argento’s best- Suspiria (1977) and Deep Red (1975) have that honor, but a very good, enjoyable cinematic horror film.