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DARIO ARGENTO: AN EYE FOR HORROR (Leon Ferguson, 2000) (TV) **1/2
Decent but hardly a comprehensive documentary on the Italian horror maestro despite the involvement of the man himself, his closest collaborators (a number of them family members) and admirers (including contemporaneous genre exponents).
We're shown Argento at work on his then-current production, SLEEPLESS (2001): being a self-confessed loner, he demonstrates a Hitchcock-like aversion to the actual shooting process; at the same time, though, he shrugs off the epithet of "Italian equivalent to the Master Of Suspense" which is often attached to him claiming that their individual styles couldn't be more different! However, when it comes to discussing his filmography, it rather skimps on important titles: even his influential debut THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970) merits no more than a nod, whereas the popular TENEBRE (1982; with its famously elaborate Louma crane shot) is by-passed entirely as is, unsurprisingly, Argento's disastrous version of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1998)! That said, both DEEP RED (1975) and SUSPIRIA (1977) still his most accomplished films are justly given their due; incidentally, the latter is mentioned as being the first part of an as-yet-uncompleted trilogy: actually, the director has just been showing the now-completed film on the festival circuit (hopefully, "The Three Mothers" will be a decisive step up from the mostly disappointing work he has churned out of late).
As I said, interviewees include the likes of Daria Nicolodi (ex-wife, frequent actress, occasional co-writer), Asia Argento (daughter, frequent star), Fiore Argento (daughter from his first marriage, occasional bit-part actress) and Claudio Simonetti (member of the Goblin band, who were responsible for several of the most memorable soundtracks to his films and which represented an integral part in their eventual success). Also on hand are director George A. Romero (with whom Argento collaborated on DAWN OF THE DEAD  and the two-part Poe compendium TWO EVIL EYES , which I just watched), Romero' s regular effects creator and occasional actor Tom Savini (who, alone, worked on Argento's TRAUMA  as well), Piper Laurie (star of TRAUMA) and director John Carpenter (himself perhaps the closest to being Argento's American counterpart, and who admits to being a fan of the Italian's work). One surprising but most welcome speaker is Michael Brandon, star of what is perhaps the director's most requested vintage title FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (1971; if only because, due to tangled rights issues, it's yet to receive an official DVD release), which I was lucky enough to watch (albeit via a poor-quality bootleg) while in Hollywood in early '06 and actually consider to be merely average!
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