OPERA
aka TERROR AT THE OPERA
1987, 100 min, Italy, Dir: Dario Argento

One of director Dario Argento’s greatest masterpieces, OPERA is a tour de force of deliriously cinematic setpieces surrounding the murderous production of an operatic version of "Macbeth." (The script was inspired by Argento’s attempt to mount "Rigoletto"!) Argento’s camera moves like a thing possessed: swooping, gliding, tracking a bullet through a peephole and, in one mind-bending shot, whirling around the opera house on raven’s wings. When a prominent opera star suffers a nonfatal car accident, her understudy Betty (Cristina Marsillach) must take on the role of Lady Macbeth. Coincidentally, a deranged madman goes on a homicidal rampage. Costarring Ian Charleson and Daria Nicolodi (DEEP RED). “A violent aria of memory, bad luck, the artistic drive and the horror of the stare. … If you've pinpointed the identity of the film's killer, it's of little consequence - the genius of the film lies not in such details but in Argento's operatic attention to death and the way in which the film's killer forces Betty's gaze.” – Ed Gonzalez, SlantMagazine.com.


SUSPIRIA
1977, 20th Century Fox, 100 min, Italy, Dir: Dario Argento

Jessica Harper, Joan Bennett and Udo Kier star in this landmark giallo inspired by an essay by 19th-century opium eater Thomas De Quincey. Argento’s magnum opus (the first of his “Three Mothers” trilogy) mixes witchcraft, nubile young flesh and expressionist set design into a truly hellish brew. SUSPIRIA is as visually ravishing as it is violent; its director explained the film’s distinctive look as “trying to reproduce the color of Walt Disney’s SNOW WHITE.” Goblin’s eerie prog-rock soundtrack envelopes listeners in a web of Moog, Mellotron and guitar, and has been sampled in everything from Hong Kong action films to hip-hop songs.


DEEP RED
PROFONDO ROSSO
1975, 106 min, Italy, Dir: Dario Argento

From the opening with a child slashing someone and a bloody knife dropping to the floor, we're plunged into an ever-deepening pool of repressed terrors. David Hemmings is a pianist sucked into an undertow of escalating homicide after he witnesses the murder of psychic Macha Meril. One of Argento's most justly famous gialli, where something as simple as a lizard writhing on the floor could represent a child's wounded psyche, bound someday to erupt in spectacular fits of murder. The dark and distinctive, keyboard-rich soundtrack - the first by prog rockers Goblin - was a major hit in Italy. With Daria Nicolodi.


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