OCTOBER 2, 2007
I think I’m about halfway through the Dario Argento filmography now, thanks to Tenebrae (aka Unsane). Also, I’ll use this space to point out I will be adding more tags so folks can find a collection of reviews more easily. I have added Chilling Classics, and now that I have about a half dozen, I’ll be adding “Argento” as well. Hurrah!
This one’s sort of similar to Deep Red, except the main guy is a novelist instead of a musician. And it’s a lot more coherent. In fact, this may be the most logical and accessible of Argento’s films (at least of the ones I’ve seen). The murders aren’t overly graphic (the victims even seem to have skeletons for once), there aren’t too many “Huh?” moments, and there’s even a relative lack of nightmare scenes (the few that we do see are actually flashbacks of a sort). Granted, there are a few things that require the characters to do things for no reason (like when the main character puts his bag down at the airport and walks away), but that’s nothing compared to the utterly baffling nature of something like Phenomena (aka Creepers). The strangest moment in the film is probably when John Saxon, apropos of nothing, demonstrates how stable his hat is by sort of headbanging. There’s also a delightful scene where Saxon laughs at some guys fighting in the background (something that occurs a few times in the film – there’s almost as much background violence as there is murder scenes). Good to know ol’ Chief Thompson enjoys other folk’s misery.
I watched the English dub, which was quite good (I’m pretty sure most of the actors were speaking English). The only time the Americanization is ever evident is in the first scene, where the killer is reading a book that is written in Italian, yet magically translates to English for close-ups. Also, in this scene, Argento demonstrates that when he speaks English, he sounds like David Warner (though maybe this isn’t Argento’s voice, he says it is but maybe he means the Italian dub version).
As always, the music by Goblin (not actually called Goblin here for some legal reason I can’t recall) is fantastic. Hilariously, the characters seem to like it too, as one of them is actually listening to the score on her record player at one point. Another character even yells “Turn it down!” OK, so maybe the movie is a little weird.
The commentary is pretty great, despite the usual gaps I’ve come to expect on an Argento track (since it’s always been like 15 years since he last watched the movie). “She was kind of a whore, right?” someone comments about a particular actress, “A bitch?” And they all get confused at the pop song placed over the credits, which none of them are familiar with, leading to the otherwise unheard of extra feature “Alternate End Credits” which features the song they got so miffed at (as the DVD producers went back and put the right song in for the feature after Argento complained). DVD is not anamorphic, but otherwise it’s a nice little package. But apparently, out of print, hence the lack of an Amazon link. Figures. A rare movie I not only recommend to fans but non-fans as well, and I can't help you buy it. Yet, goddamn Fright Club is easily located for sale! Fuck you, whoever invented moratoriums.
UPDATE: Anchor Bay has re-released the film. Woo!
What say you?