Dario Argento

A personal ranking of Dario Argento’s films

Dario Argento has to be one of my top favourite directors of all time. His blending of the horror, fantasy, mystery and thriller genres is exactly what I love.

In the month of May, the BFI has been screening Dario Argento’s films. I’d seen quite a few of his films in cinemas before, but this was a great chance for me to see some more of his films on the big screen. What made this season particularly exciting was that they included some of his movies that usually don’t get the same amount of love as his classics.

I’ve not seen all of the maestro’s work. He’s consistently worked for much of his life. Though I now feel like I’ve seen enough of them for a ranked list. Because who doesn’t love a good list? I look forward to revisiting this list in a couple years’ time and being embarrassed by it.

13 Due occhi diabolic (Two Evil Eyes) (1990) co. directed by George Romero

It seems wrong to list a film made by two of my favourite directors so low, but Two Evil Eyes doesn’t work for me. I love Poe deeply and have watched many adaptations of his stories. Roger Corman’s Poe Cycle is near perfect to me, so I’m biased here. While this might not technically be the worst film on the list, it didn’t make me feel anything. That’s a pretty big sin if you ask me.

George Romero and Argento collaborated before on Dawn of the Dead. That is easily the much better project.

12 Occhiali Neri (Dark Glasses) (2022)

An alright entry. The cinematography is so close, dark and claustrophobic, I couldn’t enjoy it. However, I saw this at FrightFest and got free sunglasses. So that’s a bonus. The excellent soundtrack from French musician Arnaud Rebotini gives it the edge over Due occhi.

Also, what’s with the Italians and eyes?

11 Phenomena (1985)

I know, I know. A controversial placing. The Jennifer Connelly-led supernatural horror is a hit amongst a majority of fans. However, I struggled to “get” this one. Hopefully one that I will come to understand in the future with repeated viewings.

10 La Sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome) (1996)

For years, bad reviews made me reluctant to watch Argento’s later work. I took a gamble and bought tickets at the BFI to watch this. What I saw was both a pleasant surprise and a bit of a mess.

The film begins with a young police officer who suffers from Stendhal Syndrome, a disorder where a person experiences intense symptoms while looking at a piece of art. Following an assault, the officer’s personality begins to change, and she becomes determined to find her attacker.

It’s a very solid film in the first two acts (very dated CGI aside). However, it begins to feel long towards the end, which makes the reveals less surprising and impactful. The viewer has too much time to figure out where we’re going.

9 Non ho sonno (Sleepless) (2001)

As with The Stendhal Syndrome, I was cautious to watch this turn-of-the-millenium giallo. I was pleasantly surprised at how solid it is. It certainly doesn’t do anything new, and some of the reveals feel a little too familiar, but for anyone not overly-familiar with Argento’s work, there’s no way you could tell.

Call me a sucker for good set pieces, but his one has some of Argento’s best. It’s worth turning this one on just to watch the opening sequence involving a train. Goblin’s soundtrack is also VERY, very good.

9 Il gatto a nove code (The Cat o’ Nine Tails) (1971)

This is one of Argento’s messier gialli. The mystery isn’t my particular favourite. But it does have my favourite character.


7 Inferno (1980)

I really enjoy this weird little film. Visually and thematically, this is the follow-up to Suspiria in the director’s Mother of Tears trilogy. They’re some of his most mystical films, and I love them for that.

The scene where she’s in the water looking for her keys? Will haunt me for life.

6 Opera (1987)

Opera is a stunning film. The sets used in the opera are fantastic. Apparently Argento was meant to be directing his own version of the Macbeth opera in real life, but it never came to fruition. This is clearly where he got to live out his dreams.

The film is tense and wicked. If you’d have asked me a month ago, I’d have listed this in my top four. However, having watched it at the BFI, I found issues with it that I hadn’t before. The ending is surreal, but it’s another where I feel like it goes on for a little bit too long.

Those death scenes though…utter perfection.

5 4 mosche di velluto grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet) (1971)

A very solid giallo, but one that doesn’t stick with me as much as Argento’s other masterpieces. There’s a great cast of characters here, though, which I think is one of its strengths.

4 Tenebrae (1982)

A bananas, bananas film. This is maybe the third most rewatched out of his films, and I continue to be thrilled by it. The ending is the most iconic out of any film on this list.

3 L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) (1970)

Dario’s directorial debut would introduce viewers to what would become some of his signature themes: forgotten memories, trauma, and madness. There are hints of Mario Bava in it, which helps elevate it to a stylish level. The fact that this was his first film is astounding. Perfection.

2 Suspiria (1977)

There’s nothing I can add to the discussion around this film. It’s stunning, surreal, evil, magic, THE ABSOLUTE BEST (well, minus my number 1 pick). I’ve seen this movie about half a million times, and I could never tire of it. A dance school with witches? The best idea Daria and Dario could have come up with.

Goblin’s score is God’s greatest gift to this earth.

1 Profundo Rosso (Deep Red) (1975)

The obvious choice. But I’m a girl who loves mystery, crazy reveals, hidden clues and blood. Sue me. And while Suspiria‘s soundtrack is perfect, I think some of Goblin’s pieces here beat it.

It lacks the technicolour magic of Suspiria, but it does have Daria Nicoldi. She and David Hemmings have charming chemistry on camera, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. When I first saw this movie, I couldn’t stop talking about it for days.

And when I say days, I mean years. I still can’t stop talking about it.

Wicked Wednesday: Let’s talk about (good) things

After last week’s fiasco, I really wasn’t in the mood to pick out something new for this blog. The last thing I’d want to do is be stuck in a similar situation where I was just moaning and complaining. It’s not cute.

But you know what, I watch loads of great things every week. And in the last month or so, I’ve seen some really great things both horror and non-horror.

Some are new. Some are old. Some are repeat viewings while others I can’t watch to watch again.

HOST (Shudder)

This is the horror movie everyone is talking about right now. Host is one of those movies that when you hear the premise, you can’t help but be wary. When a group of friends get together on Zoom call for a lockdown seance, things begin to go very wrong.

Thankfully, the wariness is completely unwarranted. This is a delightful hour-long found footage movie that packs in the scares with some really great SFX. For those of us on Zoom all day every day, this is sure to keep us up at night.

Opera (Amazon Prime)

I wrote last week that watching Opera felt like such a palate cleanser. While sifting through seemingly endless slasher movies, it’s great to watch a sleek and stylish giallo.

There’s so much tension in Opera that it’s almost painful. Twist after twist keeps you on your toes, as any great Argento film does. Between this rewatch and the passing of the incredible John Saxon, I feel like a rewatch of Argento’s filmography is due.

The Faculty (Amazon Prime)

Is The Faculty a good movie? I don’t know, but it sure as hell is a fun one.

Like many of its contemporaries, this movie is a wonderful bit of 90s cheese. While many films of the era tended to be slasher movies following in the footsteps of ScreamThe Faculty veers slightly by taking a science fiction approach.

The premise is wild: a group of kids in Ohio discover that aliens are taking over their town and must stop them before its too late. If that doesn’t sell it to you, why are you even here?

Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix)

The original Unsolved Mysteries is one of my favourite shows. For one, I love Robert Stack. He and the theme song did all the work setting the mood for that show.

So when I heard that Netflix was releasing a reboot of the series produced by the folks behind Strange Things I was 100% in.

Unlike the original, each episode of the Netflix series follows only one mystery. Some a certainly more worthy than an hour than others. “Mystery on the Rooftop” and “House of Terror” are two highlights for me. That being said, each mystery is certainly intriguing.

Though without a host, Unsolved Mysteries kind of feels like just any other run-of-the-mill true crime show. Still worth watching, but doesn’t quite hold a candle to the original.

Cursed Films (Shudder)

First of all, I want to say that I’m not necessarily recommending the entire series. Honestly, I found it a bit of a mess. It probably would have worked better as one long-form piece. The final episode on The Twilight Zone Movie is incredibly difficult to watch. There are no warnings on the episode, but there certainly should because it’s very distressing.

That being said, watch the episode on The Crow. It’s the most touching and insightful of the series, possibly because it’s the most focused. I loved hearing stories about Brandon Lee from actor Michael Berryman and makeup artist Lance Anderson. Their personal insights were both thoughtful and heartfelt.

The Changeling (Amazon)

So The Changeling is one of the classics that has been on my to-watch list for ages. One of the supposed essentials that always alluded me.

This ghost story was pretty good. Only, I watched this when I was mentally exhausted. For some reason, that mental state meant I was questioning the ghost’s motivations the entire time. I’m not entirely sure that’s what I should have taken away from this movie, but here we are.

It’s clear why this movie is a classic of the genre. It has great atmosphere – possibly the most important piece for a ghost movie. I loved the way this movie looked and sounded. I’m looking forward to rewatching it one day after I’ve had a very long nap.

Grey Gardens (overpriced Criterion Blu-Ray in a Zavvi sale)

This is the odd man out, but I really want to talk about this documentary.

Grey Gardens has been a film I’ve been trying to track down for ages. I finally had to cave and buy myself a Blu-Ray when I spotted it on sale. And man, it was worth the £18.

This 1975 documentary is an absolute classic. Following the lives of “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” (whose real names are both Edith Beale), we get a glimpse into the world of these former socialites. They’re eccentric. They’re a bit gross. They’re the most interesting pair of women that I would love to meet one day.

While this isn’t horror, I really recommend watching this piece of cinema history if you haven’t yet. It’s so worth the watch.

FrightFest 2019: Living my best prairie girl life, seeing the giallo master, and the joy of watching good films

So FrightFest ended on Monday the 26th. Am I late with this wrap-up? Yes. Very. But it doesn’t matter. These films are good, and are definitely worth writing about still.

Last year was my first-ever time at FrightFest. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, so I bought tickets to what were two (essentially) random films. This year I came prepared. I watched a trailer for every film possible and read up on them.

So what I ended up with was a pretty fine selection of movies. They were all different aspects of what I love about horror/genre films.

And next year I’ll hopefully be able to attend more screenings. My budget is small, but my ambitions are large. Either way, it’s the quality, not the quantity that matters, right? (Thought it is very hard not to have film envy after reading everyone’s Tweets about films I couldn’t see…)

All of these are quality, and I highly recommend each and every one of them.

The Wind (2018) directed by Emma Tammi, written by Teresa Sutherland

Growing up, I was obsessed with stories of pioneers in the frontier. Being from Wisconsin, we had to study Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. Butter churning and sweeping dirty floors sounded awesome. I wanted to wear bonnets and ride covered wagons, and never die from dysentery! But as I got older and fully realised the harsh truths of the frontier, it began to fascinate me in different ways.

So when I first saw dusty and desolate imagery in The Wind’s trailer, I knew this film was exactly what I wanted to see. It’s another chapter in what is hopefully a new era of American “historical horror” (see The Witch).

The Wind follows a young couple, Lizzie and Issac, who live a rather isolated life in the West (filmed new New Mexico). The story switches between three plot lines: the aftermath of the death of their young neighbour, the time leading up to their neighbour’s pregnancy, and when Lizzie herself was pregnant.

It’s a story of isolation and jealousy, certainly. But it really about the unfair expectations of women, and how those expectations can manifest themselves into something horrifying.  The movie is filled with beautiful shots of the Rockies, which serves as a beautiful juxtaposition to the terrors Lizzie faces in the lonely cabins.

As the credits rolled, I was absolutely chuffed to see that it was written and directed by women. Tammi and Sutherland together made a powerfully female film. I’ve seen many not-so-glowing reviews, especially from people who hate this genre of slow-burn horror. But to be honest, it’s everything I wanted and more.

Tenebrae (1982) written and directed by Dario Argento

One of highlights of this year’s festival wasn’t even a movie. It was the appearance of Italian maestro Dario Argento.

Argento was in London to promote his new autobiography, Fear (FAB Press). The man did a brief Q&A before a book signing, but he also made the introduction for the showing of his 1982 giallo Tenebrae.

Tenebrae is one of Argento’s later giallo’s, and not really one of my favourites. But trust me, that’s not really saying anything. I love this era of Argento. This story follows an author as he tries to solve a series of murders, seemingly inspired by one of his own books.

It’s a fun bit of cinema, with lots of twists, and lots of blood. It’s stunning, as always, and has one of my favourite movie soundtracks to boot. Seeing and hearing it in the theatre was just another experience all together.

I attended the screening with my husband (a growing giallo fan) and my friend, who had never seen an Argento film in his life. It was fun to revisit Tenebrae with my husband. But it was even better to see someone experience greatness for the first time. The three of us have already planned future Italian nights.

Hearing from Argento himself was particularly interesting. His reflections on his life were very thoughtful, and it was quite clear that he took writing his autobiography very seriously. It was also announced that he’s working on directing another film in the near future.

I’m staring at my signed copy of Fear right now. And I honestly can’t wait to dive into this icon’s life story.

Ready or Not (2019) directed by  directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, written by Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy

If you haven’t heard of this movie by now, you’ve probably been living in with your head in the sand. Ready or Not was an absolute blast, and it sure to be a crowd pleaser. I know that it certainly pleased the people in my screening.

The plot of Ready or Not is very much in the vein of films like Clue. You know, if Clue was a gory horror film about selling your soul to a demon.

On her wedding day, Grace (played by the delightful Samara Weaving) learns that she must play a game. Having been married into a family that is also a board game empire, she’s bemused, but agrees. She quickly realises that when she pulls a card for “hide and seek” it isn’t going to be such a simple game.

It’s best not to know too much about this one before heading into it. The twists are half the fun with this one.

But I will say the cast are pretty damn good. Particularly Weaving. Though my favourite Kristian Brunn had impeccable comedic delivery as always.

The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (1985) written and directed by Macoto Tezuka

Get ready for you new favourite cult film, everyone. The Stardust Brothers are here.

The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (Hoshikuzu kyôdai no densetsu) is as if The Rocky Horror Picture Show decided to go on a trip to Japan and try out a new drug. It’s surreal, wacky, and so much fun.

This little film has only just been shown outside of Japan for the first time very recently. Even within its home country it’s a cult film.

Though the plot will be familiar to everyone. Two young, ambitious musicians sign away their artistic freedom to sign a contract with a record company. They quickly rise to fame and fall even faster.

But to call this a typical music film would be a great injustice to The Stardust Brothers. For one, it’s not really a straight-forward movie. It’s more like a series of music videos strung together with a slightly-incoherent storyline. The subject is approached with a great whimsy that only Japanese filmmakers seem to ever pull off.

My friend and I are completely obsessed. It’s definitely for fans of films like Rocky Horror and The Phantom of the Paradise. This movie is even dedicated to Winslow Leach.

Needless to say, I’m pretty desperate for Third Window Films’ Blu-Ray release. I’d like it now, please. And yes, I’ll also be buying the LP because the songs are absolute classics.


Five great horror soundtracks to play this Halloween

It’s finally Halloween! The greatest night of the year. We’ll wake up tomorrow to a world of Christmas music, but for tonight: the world is ours, horror fans!

I love a good horror movie soundtrack any time, but I’ve chosen five of my favourites to listen to tonight. Don’t (or do) listen to them alone tonight. But be sure to lock the doors.

1. Deep Red (Profondo rosso) by Goblin and Giorgio Gaslini

Goblin’s soundtrack for Suspiria typically gets more love. I get it, it’s one hell of a soundtrack (and my personal top five). But there’s something very interesting and exciting about Profondo rosso. This giallo’s score switches seamlessly between Goblin’s progressive sounds, to the incredibly creeping singing of a child, to Gaslini’s more traditional pieces. Even if you just seek out the title track, it’s worth it. But “Mad Puppet” is really the jewel in the crown here. It’s a bit funky, like if you feeling a bit cool before you’re about to die.

2. Halloween (2018) by John and Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies

Including this just because you’ve probably listened to the original once or twice already. This is an updated take on Carpenter’s soundtrack from the 1978 original, and it feels a lot more industrial because of it. Come for the familiarity, stay for the excellence.

3. City of the Living Dead (Paura nella città dei morti viventi aka Fear in the Town of the Living Dead)by Fabio Frizzi

Ominous and foreboding, this is Frizzi at his finest. City of the Dead is surreal and shocking (like most of Lucio Fulci’s work), but Frizzi has always complimented his vision well. It might not be your favourite movie, but the soundtrack is always glorious.

4. It Follows by Disasterpiece

Easily the most unsettling on this list. While It Follows is already a few years old now, its soundtrack still sounds like the future of horror. You can find its 80s synth inspirations everywhere now. While there are lighter moments (“Jay”, “Detroit”), much of the soundtrack builds to painful stretches of suspense (“Heels”). I can’t listen to “Inquiry” without getting goosebumps. Sure, it’s just music, but are you sure there’s nothing following you?

5. Carnival of Souls by Gene Moore

Want to remember those fond feelings of being terrified in church? Well, look no further than this eerie organ-based soundtrack by Gene Moore. The music immediately invokes the feelings of loneliness and desperation Mary feels throughout her journey. Definitely not one great to play at parties. This was movie made on a shoestring budget, but somehow the soundtrack (and the movie) defied all of that to create something really special.

What will you be listening tonight? Sticking to “The Monster Mash”? Probably for the best…if you want to sleep tonight.

Horror Block October 2015 unboxed


This is the Halloween block for Horror Block, but it sort of ended up “meh”. Though I suppose I really shouldn’t be holding high standards for a subscription box, should I? Spoiler alert: the first thing I noticed about this box is that there is no Rue Morgue issue included this month. This is something I’m trying not to feel too sad about. But there is an item included that is probably the next-best thing.

1. Summoner’s mouse pad

I think the only mouse pads my husband and I have in our flat is whatever we get for free from somewhere or (more likely) a hardback volume of the Serenity comic. As far as mouse pads go, this ouija board one is pretty cool. Nothing like zooming your mouse over the “board”, raising spirits while searching for YouTube videos.

2. Child’s Play Chucky plush doll – exclusive

There were few movies when I was a child that I could not abide by. One of the stop three has to be Child’s Play. Even today I feel an immense feeling of discomfort just thinking about that movie. So I genuinely don’t know what to do with this doll. It might just be the Halloween season, but I don’t feel comfortable leaving it in my room and I definitely  don’t want it in my house. I would try throwing it away, but do I really want to face the horror of it just being back in my room when I return? Also, I guess if you’re going to be a total bitch and a stickler this is a Bride of Chucky doll. But I really don’t care about details here because fuck these movies and this doll.

3. Friday the 13th Camp Crystal Lake t-shirt – exclusive 

Nerd Block really knocked it out with the shirts included in their boxes this month. First it was the Peltzer’s Pets Gremlins shirt, now it’s this fantastic Friday the 13th Jason shirt. This is a bit different than the usual fare, mostly because it’s brown instead of black. What are we to do with ourselves? But seriously, this is another great graphic from ShirtPunch. I’m a particular fan of the bold graphic.


4. Dario Argento’s Dracula (Dracula 3D) DVD

Ah yes. No one’s favourite Argento movie! Oh and no one’s favourite Dracula movie or even anyone’s favourite vampire movie with Rutger Hauer. Don’t get me wrong, I love all three of those things very much, but there just was something that really, really didn’t work in this 2012 film. Perhaps I’ll re-watch and review this a different day, but only if you make me. Either way, this is definitely not going to make my Halloween to-watch list.

5. “They’re Coming to Get You” Print

This is pretty cute, though I never know what to do with the prints I receive in these subscription boxes. Who hangs up art work in their houses that are this tiny? Anyway, for a print that I just described as “cute,” this picture is filled with some of horror’s most iconic undead characters like Madeleine from White Zombie and Karen from Night of the Living Dead, oh and I guess Michael Jackson from his “Thriller” music video because why the hell not? The art was done by Paul Hanley as a part of Guzu Gallery’s “Something Spooky” show.

6. Rue Morgue Magazine’s “Cryptic Collectibles: A Concise Compendium of Creepy Keepsakes”

As I mentioned before, there is no copy of Rue Morgue in this month’s block, which is kind of disappointing. But this book of movie memorabilia is pretty fun. This isn’t the first time subscribers have received a book from the Canadian magazine. This is by far the best and most interesting one included this far. Cryptic Collectibles delves into the world of collectible toys, monster cereals and even Halloween costumes.

Wicked Wednesday

Turns out it is already the 8th of October, which is possibly the most obscene thing that has happened to me today and that’s including the bizarre video I watched this morning. There has been a lot of soul searching in the past week (mostly because my laptop has been broken – amazing what that does to a person) about the direction of this blog. That happens a lot as I seem to write about the ideas for  this blog more than that actual writing. But as every person in my life has told me: just keep writing.

So the “just keep pushing through” has arrived at one idea. Even though we are a week gone, this month there will be something eerie taking over: Wicked Wednesdays or “spooky tunes you need this October.”

This Wednesday is a particularly skin crawling soundtrack from the 1977 Italian horror film Suspiria. The film follows a young ballerina who has just moved to a new academy in Germany. She believes there to be a coven of witches controlling the school. What follows is a generous blood bath of gore and horror. Dario Argento’s masterpiece is more than just a visual feast for the eyes – the music is crafted so well you’ll find yourself looking over your shoulder to see if someone else is sitting in the room listening with you.

Goblin, produced the score for Argent’s movie and still preform live with screenings of the film. The result is one of the most interesting soundtracks of the time. Just take a listen to the main theme:

There are more familiar themes from 70’s horror like The Exorcist’s “Tubular Bells” or Halloween‘s main theme, but “Suspiria” is one of the most effective.  The combination of the sweet chiming bells and the indistinguishable yet threatening whispers makes for one fantastic opening number. It’s dark, verging on unsettling.

The rest of the score follows suit: screams, heart-racing drums, the simple silence of someone breathing. A bit dated perhaps, but nothing has ever come close to being as terrifying as anything produced after. Suspiria has a soundtrack that is a necessary listen at this time of the year.

Just maybe don’t listen alone.