Italian Horror Double Feature: Argento’s Tenebre and Dracula

Tenebrae 2

In order to save my sanity (lest it break from too many awful adaptations) I had to take a break from my Stephen King project this weekend to review a couple of horror films by Dario Argento instead.

Ah, Dario Argento. I feel like Italian horror is either something you completely love or completely hate, and I’ve been completely in love with Argento since I viewed Suspiria when I was a teen. After that, it wasn’t long before I was driving down to Scarecrow video every weekend to check out more Argento films, along with some Lucio Fucli and Lamberto Bava (Demons and Demons 2! YES). In order to love Argento, you have to love bad dubbing, melodramatic acting, and watching women’s heads crash through glass windows over and over and over … and over again. Which I do!  (more…)

Podcastin’ about Splatter

If you’d like to actually listen to me talk about movies instead of just reading what I write about them, the lovely people at Scarecrow Video had me on their podcast as a guest — in which I cover some Italian Horror, Eli Roth’s films, and movie soundtracks.

You can find it here.

 

{photo from Dario Argento’s Deep Red} 

Argento’s Le tre madri

I’ve been a huge Argento fan ever since I rented Suspiria in my teens, and at some point in the late 80s/early 90s, Argento, Bava, and Fulci films were the only horror movies I would watch. To play a little bit of catch-up on 31 Horror Films in 31 Days – I decided to re-review Le tre madri – his Three Mothers Triology.

Suspiria (1977) 
Arguably the most beloved of the trilogy, Suspiria is a trippy, blood-soaked Giallo masterpiece. American ballet student Suzy Bannion arrives at a famous German dance school to be trained by the best, and the murderin’ starts right away. Turns out the school is run by a fierce coven of old-lady witches who worship Mater Suspirorum (The Mother of Sighs), and by worship – I mean, constantly kill girls in interesting ways so the mother can have their blood? Or something. It’s not really clear, but the technicolor sets on this movie, combined with the buckets of bright orange-y red splatter, are fantastic. 

Inferno (1980) 
While the second film in the trilogy has some really great moments, by and large it’s sadly, pretty boring. In this one, the action jumps back-and-forth between a sister in NYC and her brother in Rome, trying to unveil the mystery of The Three Mothers. Rose, in New York, thinks she might be living in the home of Mater Tenebrarum (The Mother o Darkness), so naturally she decides to explore the flooded basement in the pitch black to find out more – which is the scariest part of the movie!) There’s a decent amount of stabbing and of course, fire, but it would behoove you to liberally use the fast-forward button on this one. It’s just…missing the tenseness that Suspiria has.

La terza madre (2007) 
The Mother of Tears, which took almost 30 years to come to fruition (what!) is the ultimate “I’m gonna torture my daughter mercilessly” Argento film, starring his drop-dead-gorgeous daughter, Asia, as an art restoration student who accidentally opens a box, releasing the spirit of Mater Lachrymarum, which basically starts a chain reaction of some of the crazy shit I’ve ever seen on film. Dying babies, insane torture instruments, bands of witches that look like they stepped out of a Goth club in the 80s, orgies, corpses, and naked women everywhere. It’s cheesy as hell, but the gore is almost non-stop, so it’s totally great, and a nice capper to the trilogy.

For those that haven’t seen Argento’s work before – note that all these releases are dubbed, and really badly, so that definitely ads a kitschy factor to it. Despite their faults, though, these are still some incredible pieces of art. No one knows how to do a kill scene quite like this guy.

I highly recommend you check these out (in order, of course) for a different take on the horror genre.

Suspiria

31 Horror Movies I Own #10: Suspiria

After seeing Lamberta Bava’s Demons (which I picked up because of the cover), I became obsessed Italian horror, and in particular, with tracking down screenwriter Dario Argento’s entire catalog. Billed as having “the most vicious murder scene ever filmed” when it was released, the 1977 cult classic Suspiria still deserves that title—even with super crazy 1977 wardrobe and hair. (more…)

La Terza Madre

The third installment in Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy (following Suspiria & Inferno) does not disappoint. Mother of Tears is full of the Italian Horror Director’s signatures: grotesque murders, graphic detail, entrails, gorgeous, naked Italian women – and of course, the main character wading through a disgusting pit of something (in this case, human carnage & maggoty grossness). Daughter Asia stars in one of daddy’s films yet again, and yes, she’s as exploited as always.

The plot, loosely: a beautiful museum curator recieives a strange artifact from a priest, opens it with a co-worker and conveniently leaves her alone, returning to find the co-worker being savagely murdered by a group in black robes, and a screaming monkey (!!??) pointing the murderers in her direction next. The cops think she’s crazy, her dead mother starts talking to her and a white magic/black magic battle ensues while Rome crumbles under chaos in the streets and gangs of witches run rampant murdering everyone. Asia, as the lead, is the only one who can STOP it all and save the city! Sounds great, right? 🙂 (more…)