Dario Argento

Dario Argento (Italian: [ˈdaːrjo arˈdʒɛnto]; born 7 September 1940) is an Italian film director, producer, film critic and screenwriter. He is best known for his work in the horror film genre during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in the subgenre known as giallo; the influence of his work on modern horror films has led him to being referred to as the "Master of the Thrill"[2] and the "Master of Horror".[3]

Dario Argento
Dario Argento in 2017
Born (1940-09-07) 7 September 1940
Other namesSirio Bernadotte[1]
OccupationFilm director, producer, screenwriter
Spouse(s)Marisa Casale (1968–1972; divorced)
Partner(s)Daria Nicolodi (1974–1985)
Children2 (including Asia Argento)
RelativesClaudio Argento (brother)

His most notable films as director are the "Animal Trilogy", consisting of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1969), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1972); the "Three Mothers" trilogy, consisting of Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980) and The Mother of Tears (2007); and the standalone films Deep Red (1975), Tenebrae (1982), Phenomena (1985), and Opera (1987). He also co-wrote the screenplay for Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and served as George A. Romero's script consultant on Dawn of the Dead (1978), of which he also composed the soundtrack with his long-time collaborators Goblin.

Early life

Argento was born in Rome, the son of Sicilian film producer and executive Salvatore Argento (1914–1987) and Brazilian photographer Elda Luxardo, who was of Italian ancestry. He began his career in film as a critic, writing for various magazines while still attending high school. Argento did not attend college, electing rather to take a job as a columnist at the newspaper Paese Sera. While working at the newspaper, Argento also began working as a screenwriter. His most notable work was for Sergio Leone; he and Bernardo Bertolucci collaborated on the story for the spaghetti western Once Upon a Time in the West.



Argento began work on his directorial debut, the giallo film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, which was released in 1970 and was a major hit in Italy. Argento continued to concentrate largely on the giallo genre, directing two more successful thrillers, The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1972). Along with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, these three films are frequently referred to as Argento's "Animal Trilogy". The director then turned his attention away from giallo movies, filming two Italian TV dramas and a period comedy (The Five Days) in 1973. Argento returned to thrillers with 1975's Deep Red, frequently cited by many critics as the best giallo ever made. The film made Argento famous internationally and inspired a number of other directors to work in the genre (John Carpenter has frequently referred to the influence Argento's early work had on Halloween).

Argento's next film was Suspiria (1977), a supernatural horror. Argento planned for Suspiria to be the first of a trilogy about "The Three Mothers", three ancient witches residing in three different modern cities. The second film of the trilogy was 1980's Inferno. The Mother of Tears (2007) concluded the trilogy.

In 1978, Argento collaborated with George A. Romero on Dawn of the Dead, earning a producer credit and also providing soundtrack work for the zombie film. Argento oversaw the European release of the film, where it was titled Zombi, which was much shorter and featured more of the score written and performed by Goblin.


After Inferno, Argento returned to the more conventional giallo style with Tenebrae (1982). He then attempted to combine giallo and supernatural fantasy in 1985's Phenomena, also known as Creepers, which was one of Jennifer Connelly's earliest movies. Phenomena also showed Argento's predilection for using new technology, as evidenced by the film's several prowling Steadicam shots. Both films received a lukewarm reception upon their release (although each has been positively reappraised since).

Argento subsequently took a break from directing to write two screenplays for Mario Bava's son, Lamberto Bava: Dèmoni (1985) and Dèmoni 2 (1986).

Opera followed in 1987. Set in Parma's Regio Theatre during a production of Verdi's Macbeth, the production was beset by real-life misfortunes that Argento suspected were caused by the supposed traditional "curse" on the Shakespearean play. Argento's father died during its production, Vanessa Redgrave quit the project before filming began, he had problems working with his former long-time girlfriend and collaborator Daria Nicolodi on-set and the cast and crew were plagued by several minor accidents and mishaps.

In 1987–88, Argento produced a TV series called Turno di Notte, which had 15 episodes. Nine of the shows were directed by Luigi Cozzi, the other 6 by Lamberto Bava. Daria Nicolodi and Asia Argento starred in several of the episodes.


During the early 1990s, Argento was in the process of collaborating with Italian director Lucio Fulci on a horror film. Due to financial trouble, the project was continually postponed. In 1996, Argento was able to gather funding, but was unable to collaborate with Fulci, who died in March that year. The film was later directed by Sergio Stivaletti as The Wax Mask, with Argento and Fulci both receiving screenwriting credits.

His 1996 film The Stendhal Syndrome, in which a policewoman (played by Argento's daughter, Asia) who suffers from Stendhal syndrome is trapped by a serial killer in an abandoned warehouse, was the first Italian film to use computer-generated imagery (CGI). Moreover, the film's opening scene was shot in Florence at Italy's famed Uffizi Gallery. Argento is the only director ever granted permission to shoot there. The Stendhal Syndrome was distributed in the U.S. by cult B-movie distribution company Troma Entertainment. He later directed 1998's The Phantom of the Opera and 2001's Sleepless.

2000s and 2010s

2004's The Card Player, a giallo about a killer whose murders are conducted during Internet poker matches with the Rome police, earned a mixed reception: some fans appreciated the techno music score composed by ex-Goblin member Claudio Simonetti, but felt the film was too mainstream, with little of Argento's usual flourish.

2005 saw the TV broadcast of Argento's Do You Like Hitchcock?, in which the director paid homage to Alfred Hitchcock after decades of being compared to him by critics. Later that year, he directed an episode of Masters of Horror, a Showtime television series, called "Jenifer". For season 2 of the series, Argento directed "Pelts", an adaption of the F. Paul Wilson short story of the same name.

In 2007, Argento finished the final film of his Three Mothers trilogy, The Mother of Tears, which is set in Rome and centers on the titular "third mother", Mater Lacrimarum. Argento and Jace Anderson share writing credits for the film. Asia Argento was cast as the lead player, along with her mother and frequent Argento collaborator Daria Nicolodi in a supporting role. Udo Kier, who appeared in Argento's Suspiria, and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, who appeared in three of his previous films, both have pivotal roles in the final Mothers chapter.

On 26 June 2009, Giallo premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The following month he announced that he had started working on a 3D remake of Deep Red,[4] but subsequently this project was shelved due to the commercial failure of Giallo in Italian cinemas. He then announced his decision to write a new screenplay .[5] On 4 March 2011, it was announced that Rutger Hauer had signed on to play Van Helsing in Argento's Dracula 3D, which began shooting in Budapest later in the year.[6] It was released on 19 May 2012.

In 2014, Argento was slated to direct The Sandman, which had Iggy Pop attached to star and a script by David Tully. The film successfully raised over $195,000 from over 1,000 backers on Indiegogo in December 2014.[7] However, filming has not commenced as of 2019 and the project producers have not updated the film's status to backers since August 2017.[8]

Italian director Luca Guadagnino helmed Suspiria (2018), a remake of Argento's 1977 film. The American screenplay is based on the original script Argento wrote with Daria Nicolodi, his former long-term partner.

In 2019, Argento announced that he was developing a female led serial movie, consisting of eight episodes, for a streaming service.[9]

In March 2019, Argento was announced as the "artistic director" on Clod Studio's crowdfunded video game Dreadful Bond.[10]

Other work

He is involved in a horror memorabilia store located at Via dei Gracchi 260 in Rome named Profondo Rosso, after his classic film Deep Red. In the cellar is a collection of his movies. The store is managed by his long-time collaborator and friend Luigi Cozzi.[11][12][13][14]

He has contributed in the development of the survival horror video game Dead Space, and also in the dubbing of the Dr. Kyne character in the Italian version of the game.[15]

He is acting as an artistic director on Clod Studio's upcoming video game Dreadful Bond.[16]

Works and criticism

Maitland McDonagh wrote about Argento in her book Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento (1991). Argento is also mentioned in Art of Darkness, a collection of promotional stills, poster art and critical essays edited by Chris Gallant. British journalist Alan Jones published Profondo Argento, a compendium of set reports, interviews and biographical detail. English sound designer, writer and musician Heather Emmett published Sounds to Die For: Speaking the Language of Horror Film Sound, which includes the first in-depth study of the use of sound in Argento's films.[17]

In 2012, Argento was highlighted in the retrospective Argento: Il Cinema Nel Sangue at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. The retrospective celebrated the influence of the Argento family on filmmaking in Italy and around the world. It highlighted Dario's contribution as well as that of his father (Salvatore), brother (Claudio), ex-wife (Daria Nicolodi) and daughter (Asia).[18][19][20]

Critical decline

With the exceptions of The Stendhal Syndrome and Sleepless, all of Argento's films since the "golden age" of the 70s and 80s have been generally poorly received by critics and fans alike, including Argento scholars such as Maitland McDonagh. Fangoria wrote in 2010, "over the last decade, standards have slipped. For a filmmaker who was always so precise in his construction and cutting, his later films such as The Phantom of the Opera and The Card Player are sloppy, stitched together so carelessly that they leak vital fluid. Gradually, the kaleidoscopic style that once characterized his films has slowly blanched away."[21]



Title Year Credited as
Director Writer Producer Editor Composer Actor Role
Scusi, lei è favorevole o contrario?
English title: Pardon, Are You For or Against?
1966 Yes Yes Priest
Qualcuno ha tradito
English title: Someone's a Traitor
1967 Yes
Oggi a me... domani a te! (Today It's Me... Tomorrow You!)
English title: Today We Kill... Tomorrow We Die!
1968 Yes
Comandamenti per un gangster Yes
Commandos Yes
La rivoluzione sessuale Yes
C'era una volta il West
English title: Once Upon a Time in the West
Une corde, un Colt... (The Rope and the Colt...)
aka Cemetery Without Crosses
1969 Yes
Metti, una sera a cena (One Night at Dinner)
English title: The Love Circle
Probabilità zero Yes
La legione dei dannati (Legion of the Damned)
English title: Battle of the Commandos
Un esercito di cinque uomini
English title: The Five Man Army
La stagione dei sensi
English title: The Season of the Senses
L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo
English title: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
a.k.a. The Gallery Murders
1970 Yes Yes Yes Murderer's Hands (uncredited)
Il gatto a nove code
English title: The Cat o' Nine Tails
1971 Yes Yes
4 mosche di velluto grigio
English title: Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Yes Yes
Così sia (So Be It)
English title: Man Called Amen
1973 Yes
Le cinque giornate
English title: The Five Days of Milan
Yes Yes Yes Bandaged man with Tranzunto (uncredited)
Profondo rosso
English title: Deep Red
1975 Yes Yes Yes Murderer's Hands (uncredited)
Suspiria 1977 Yes Yes Yes Yes Narrator (voice; uncredited)
English title: Dawn of the Dead
1978 European Cut (Uncredited, European Cut) Yes
English title: Martin
(Uncredited, European Cut) Yes
Inferno 1980 Yes Yes Yes Narrator (voice; uncredited)
English title: Tenebrae, a.k.a. Unsane
1982 Yes Yes Yes Narrator; Murderer's Hands (voice; uncredited)
English title: Creepers
1985 Yes Yes Yes Yes Narrator (voice; uncredited)
English title: Demons
Yes Yes
Dèmoni 2
English title: Demons 2: The Nightmare Begins
1986 Yes Yes
English title: Terror at the Opera
1987 Yes Yes Yes Yes Narrator (voice; uncredited)
La chiesa
English title: The Church, a.k.a. Demons III
1989 Yes Yes
Due occhi diabolici (The Black Cat episode only)
English title: Two Evil Eyes
1990 Yes Yes Yes
La Setta (The Sect)
English title: The Devil's Daughter
1991 Yes Yes
Innocent Blood 1992 Yes Paramedic
English title: Dario Argento's Trauma
1993 Yes Yes Yes (uncredited)
La sindrome di Stendhal
English title: The Stendhal Syndrome
1996 Yes Yes Yes
Il cielo è sempre più blu (The Sky is Always Bluer)
English title: Bits and Pieces
Yes Man Confessing To Franciscan Monk
M.D.C. - Maschera di cera
English title: Wax Mask
1997 Yes Yes
Il fantasma dell'opera
English title: The Phantom of the Opera
1998 Yes Yes
Scarlet Diva 2000 Yes
Non ho sonno (I Can't Sleep)
English title: Sleepless
2001 Yes Yes Yes
Il cartaio
English title: The Card Player
2004 Yes Yes Yes
La Terza madre (The Third Mother)
English title: Mother of Tears
2007 Yes Yes Yes
Giallo 2009 Yes Yes
Dracula 3D 2012 Yes Yes
Suspiria 2018 Yes
The Sandman TBA Yes


Title Year Credited as
Director Writer Producer Editor Composer Actor Role
Door into Darkness
Episodes: Il tram and Testimone oculare
1973 Yes Yes Yes
Turno di Notte 1987 Yes
Ti piace Hitchcock?
English title: Do You Like Hitchcock?
2005 Yes Yes
Masters of Horror
Episodes: Jenifer and Pelts
2005–2006 Yes
Tutti pazzi per amore 2010 Yes Ugo, presidente commissione d'esame
100 Bullets D'Argento 2012 Yes D'Argento


1993 – The King of Ads (director)

Recurring collaborators

Actor The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Cat O'Nine Tails Four Flies on Gray Velvet Le cinque giornate Deep Red Suspiria Inferno Tenebre Phenomena Opera Two Evil Eyes Trauma The Stendhal Syndrome Phantom of the Opera Sleepless The Card Player The Third Mother Giallo Dracula 3D
Asia Argento
Giovanni Di Benedetto
Tom Felleghy
Margherita Horowitz
Thomas Kretschmann
Emilio Marchesini
Gildo Di Marco
Fulvio Mingozzi
Daria Nicolodi
Corrado Olmi
Stefano Oppedisano
Pino Patti
Ada Pometti
Umberto Raho
Jacques Stany


  1. "Dario Argento Biography (1940-)". filmreference.com. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  2. Compie 60 anni Dario Argento, il maestro del brivido (Italian)
  3. Dario Argento -Master of Horror, 1991 - MyMovies.it
  4. Redazione Tiscal (3 July 2009). "Dario Argento pronto a girare "Profondo Rosso in 3D"". tiscali.it. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  5. "Dario Argento Gives His Blessing - Suspiria Remake a Go!". Dread Central. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  6. Clark Collis. "Rutger Hauer confirms he will play Van Helsing in Dario Argento's 'Dracula 3D' -- EXCLUSIVE". ew.com. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  7. Indiegogo. "Dario Argento's The Sandman". Indiegogo.com. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  8. Zachary Paul (14 July 2017). "What Happened to Dario Argento's 'The Sandman'?". bloody-disgusting.com. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  9. Thiessen, Brock (March 8, 2019). "Dario Argento Finally Opens Up About His New Film". Exclaim!. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  10. Squires, John (March 25, 2019). "Dario Argento Was the Artistic Director of Upcoming Video Game 'Dreadful Bond'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  11. Frightful Rome
  12. Dario's Profondo Rosso
  13. Global Film Museums that bring the big screen to life
  14. Dario Argento's memorabilia store
  15. Cavalli, Earnest (September 26, 2008). "Wired Blog Network: Dario Argento Joins Italian Dead Space". Archived from the original on November 5, 2008. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  16. Squires, John (March 25, 2019). "[Trailer] Dario Argento Was the Artistic Director of Upcoming Video Game 'Dreadful Bond'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  17. "Sounds to Die For". flaithulach.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 April 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  18. "Argento: Il Cinema Nel Sangue". Museum of Arts and Design. Museum of Arts and Design. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  19. Dollar, Steve. "Importing Cinema of Great Import". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones Inc. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  20. Kasman, Daniel. "The Design and Architecture of Terror: Dario Argento's "Deep Red"". Notebook. MUBI. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  21. Kloda, James (16 May 2010). ""GIALLO" (Film Review)". fangoria.com. Archived from the original on 22 January 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2012.

Further reading

  • Waddell, Calum (2015). "The complete guide to Dario Argento". Timewarp. SciFiNow. 104: 106–113.
  • Xavier Mendik. "From the Monstrous Mother to the 'Third' Sex: Female Abjection in the Films of Dario Argento" in Andy Black (ed), Necronomicon: The Journal of Horror and Erotic Cinema: Book Two, London: creation Books, 1998, pp. 110–133.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.