Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Il mondo dell'orrore di Dario Argento (1985)

...aka: Dario Argento's World of Horror
...aka: World of Horror, The

Directed by:
Michele Soavi

The fascinating films of Italian horror stylist Dario Argento are covered in this excellent documentary constructed by director Michele Soavi, a man pretty familiar with the subject matter since he served as Argento's assistant on several of his films. It covers every Argento film from his 1969 debut (THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) to 1984 (Phenomena aka Creepers), plus some films he helped produce and/or write (DAWN OF THE DEAD, Demons). Footage shows how the amazing luma crane shot was achieved in Tenebre (or as the subs call it: "Shadow"), how insect effects and make-up were created for Creepers (not to mention a scene where Jennifer levitates off the floor that's not even in the uncut version of the film) and how they did some of the animatronics and effects for Demons. When this documentary was first released it was a must, since it featured many astonishing and usually gory sequences that were cut from the hacked up American release versions, which were all that was available at the time. Since most of the films have been restored to their original length on DVD since, this documentary may have lost some of its original appeal, though it's still well worth watching for fans.

Argento worries a lot about his abilities as a filmmaker, makes sensible comparisons between sex and violence, attends an Emerson, Lake and Palmer concert and talks about his inspirations. The Vidmark VHS release has English language narration, but subtitled interviews and is a must see for any fan of the director. Video Search of Miami went on to release Dario Argento: Master of Horror (1991), a documentary by Luigi Cozzi, featuring more interviews and behind the scenes footage (from Terror at the Opera, Two Evil Eyes and others). There was a third Italian documentary in this series covering 1991-1997, as well as Leon Ferguson's 2001 documentary Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror (2001).


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