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Image Entertainment presents
Dario Argento: An Eye For Horror (2001)

"It's just been lately I've been thinking about how bizarre it is that my father has killed my mother several times, and my sister once. He had me raped a few times and it's bizarre if you think about it, but I sincerely don't want to, because I'm scared that I'm going to reveal something that's better to be kept like this."
- Asia Argento

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: November 02, 2001

Stars: Dario Argento, Asia Argento, Jessica Harper, John Carpenter, Keith Emerson
Other Stars: Alice Cooper, George Romero
Director: Leon Ferguson

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some gore and violence in the film clips)
Run Time: 00h:57m:00s
Release Date: October 09, 2001
UPC: 014381084627
Genre: documentary


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B CB-B- D+

DVD Review

Growing up as a Dario Argento fan in the U.S. wasn't an easy thing. Today, youthful filmgoers are living in the age of DVD, and a new age of respect and education when it comes to movies. Unfortunately, prior to this age, fans of Italian horror had to put up with perhaps the most mangled, edited, and re-envisioned films ever released. Dario Argento was a director that probably faired worse than most, having his films bastardized into garbage at the hands of American distributors. Today, a teenager can walk into a store, and say, "I'd like to buy Deep Red please!", and be handed a shiny DVD of excellent quality. In MY youth, however, I had to make due with "The Hatchet Murders" in a significantly shortened and censored version. Argento fans could not watch Tenabrae; we were stuck with Unsane, which even went so far as to replace part of the original score. In distributor's hands, Phenomena became Creepers, Opera became Terror At The Opera, and so on. To be sure, one could seek out a local "independent" movie store and rent a completest version, but it would undoubtedly be of dubious quality, usually dubbed poorly from laserdisc.

So, to see an age where many people finally give Argento some of the respect and credit he deserves—as a true filmmaking revolutionary—is rather eye-opening, as well as surprising. With a knack for crafting dark, vicious stories of murder, revenge, and the supernatural Argento, oddly enough, started his film career as a screenwriter on the legendary western, Once Upon A Time In The West. He grew up with cinematic giants like Sergio Leone, Mario Bava, and even his own father, Salvatore, was a successful producer. Perhaps he was destined to direct, but what people did not expect was that his vision would radically change the world of suspense thrillers and murder mysteries, or giallos as they are termed in Italian pop-culture. The documentary Dario Argento: An Eye For Horror, seeks to examine some of the elements behind his career and his future, as well as acknowledging the profound effect his bloody experiments had on generations to follow.

Unfortunately, I must say that the program is not entirely successful. While certainly the interviews with Argento, his daughters, and other directors who've befriended and respected him are interesting, there is a certain amount of depth lacking in the portrayal. Granted, the filmmakers only had an hour of time to work with, but I still think a bit more could have been done. To begin with, the documentary strangely fails to mention or cover two of Argento's most hotly debated and psychologically interesting films: The Stendhal Syndrome and The Phantom Of The Opera, both of which starred his own daughter, Asia. Other of his films are only touched upon, despite their significance. Of course, his supernatural magnum-opus, Suspiria is given its due, but even though the narrator mentions that Inferno was meant to be the spiritual "sequel", no time is spent looking at that film. The documentarians also open the door on Argento's mysterious relationship/collaboration with actress Daria Nicolodi, but don't really deliver the goods. Nicolodi is interviewed, but only just barely; a gigantic lost opportunity for a wealth of insight into Argento from someone who knew him, arguably better than anyone.

There are a few minor factual problems as well. The documentary mentions the ultimate failure of the Dario/Claudio/Salvatore Argento collaboration The Five Days of Milan, but makes it sound as if it was simply a bad idea or a miscalculated business venture, when in fact, they made the mediocre comedy because they all felt the murder genre was flooded and losing its impact. In one segment, discussing the Argentos' totally American production, Trauma, images that are in fact from Wax Mask are shown on the screen. After deciding not to delve into most of Argento's work, the program then goes headlong into showing him at work on "his latest film", yet they fail to mention who's in it or even the title (Insomnia [I Can't Sleep]).

In the end, I was disappointed by this lack of focus and effort. Even more amazing was the time spent talking to people like, say, Alice Cooper, instead of interviewing Lamberto Bava, Michele Soavi, Luigi Cozzi, or any number of people Argento has intimately worked with over the years. It's really a pop documentary, aimed at a different audience, I guess. For newcomers to his work, the program serves a decent purpose, but as an authoritative glance it seems like a missed opportunity, even for its limited running time.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1:78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Image quality is basically all over the map. While most of the interviews are of excellent quality, especially the segments with Dario Argento, some of the other footage is fairly low-end. Clips from Argento's own movies and other elements of stock footage are pretty poor. However, none of this effects the impression of the film, and I guess it's to be expected, since so many different sources are used.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English (w/Italian)yes


Audio Transfer Review: There are a few moments when the soundtrack really shines, like some brief clips of Goblin music. For the most part, it's an average mono-dialogue type of mix. There are no subtitles; instead the Italian speakers are voiced-over by a translator.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There's some stylish, animated menus, but no other features; one of Image's bare-bones documentary releases.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

An Eye For Horror falls short of my expectations, mainly because the Dario Argento's World Of Horror documentaries are so much better, but sadly not widely available on home video—yet. It's entertaining and simple, but for something brand new, it really should have pushed the limits a bit further.

 


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