The horror and the beauty of Argento(s) and Goblin

Posted: August 16, 2013 by The Social Retard in Hotness, Movies, Music
Tags: , ,


I have talked before here about my time at Crown Books and my misadventures with Jenny. While she was a full-on nutter, she did turn me on to My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult as well as the films of Dario Argento. If she hadn’t been crazy, maybe she wouldn’t have known about these things and, ergo, neither would I. The “Italian Hitchcock”, king of the giallo (term for a crime fiction story), master of gore. I’d like to think that I would have found him inevitably as I watched countless Troma movies and random bullshit horror rented from Family Video. But maybe I wouldn’t have and I would have missed out on more than just film.

Argento is certainly an acquired taste. I often find that his work is easier to admire than to enjoy. My first experience was with Tenebre. I took Jenny at her word that the film was phenomenal, so I bought the DVD. Amazingly enough, I found the Anchor Bay “Dario Argento Collection” version at my local Best Buy. The first thing I remember as being striking to me was the appearance of John Saxon. I have, in the past, been quite the horror movie guru so I was very familiar with him. You would know him as Nancy’s dad in A Nightmare On Elm Street – the original, you heretic. But Nightmare didn’t come out until two years after Tenebre (Unsane in America). Maybe this flick had some credibility after all.

The camera work was like nothing I had ever seen in that kind of a film. The camera was its own character. It served as the killer’s eyes and we got to view the murder scenes through his (spoilers?) point of view. The gore was a vibrant, unrealistic red. The style was so immense that it becomes difficult to acknowledge the lack of substance. At least equal to the visuals was the score by Italian prog rockers Goblin. From the opening tones of the main theme, I had no idea what in the hell I was hearing. Not since Peter Frampton had the talk box been used to such absolutely evil effect. Between that and the organ synth of main composer Claudio Simonetti, it was so different and so out there. The audio and visual elements come together that definitely adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

I eventually would go back to Music Warehouse to get as many compilations of Goblin’s soundtrack work as possible. When Argento’s Sleepless came out in 2001, it was the first time in a long while that Goblin had done a soundtrack. I actually went online and ordered the soundtrack from an Italian website. There, it was titled Non Ho Sonno. This was long before Google translate (or Google even?) so I went on the site and hoped for the best. I was already a savvy online shopper at that point, so I figured that I didn’t do something horribly wrong. The CD arrived and I was not disappointed.

After conceding to Jenny that she may have actually been right about a second thing, I went back to Best Buy and caused a ruckus when they didn’t have any other Argento flicks. I then proceeded to buy all of the ones in the “Argento Collection” as they had all been recently remastered and restored for the first time in the U.S. I bought good ones: the two disc limited edition of Opera, Phenomena (with Jennifer Connelly and Donald Muthafuckin’ Pleasance) and the not terribly good: Inferno. There were also some great like Cat O’ Nine Tails and Suspiria.

Suspiria was the first in a proposed trilogy called “the Three Mothers”. It was released in 1977 and is widely considered Argento’s masterpiece. My copy is the limited edition three disc version that includes the soundtrack by Goblin. Every death scene is a macabre work of art, many have been mimicked over and over. It stars American Jessica Harper as a ballerina whose new academy is run by witches. It’s creepy as fuck. Inferno came out three years later and was totally lackluster.

The third came out a few years ago, Mother of Tears, and I was fortunate enough to see it at the Music Box. It was a great ending to the trilogy and a sign that Argento hadn’t completely lost his chops. His last two movies might prove otherwise. The best part was that it starred his daughter, and the object of my ultimate fanboy affection, Asia.

Asia is just flat out fucking beautiful and though a lot of her work lends evidence that she may not be a great actress (as a lot of the movies she is in are total rubbish), you need only check out Traveling Companion to know that she has got some chops. It’s all in Italian but that’s why there are subtitles. I actually don’t watch it in subtitles myself. I believe that, like a silent movie, that you should be able to know what’s going on just based on performance. Hers is fantastic. She has also become an established director in her own right. But, honestly, she really is gorgeous. I would actually watch XXX with Vin Diesel again just for her and that movie is fucking unbearable.

Argento has given me so much. He introduced my world to his film, the music of Goblin, and his daughter. I have collected nearly all of his films available (including the ones above: The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Four Flies On Grey Velvet, Trauma [with Asia], Two Evil Eyes [co-directed by George A. Romero], The Phantom Of the Opera [with Asia], Sleepless, The Card Player, Do You Like Hitchcock?) and even some on Blu-ray (Cat O’ Nine Tails, Deep Red, The Stendhal Syndrome [with Asia], and the awful digital transfer of the region free import of Tenebre). I have the four Goblin comps from DGA on CD but I would like to get some on vinyl but they be pricey. I also have procured a fair amount of Asia’s films (Demons 2, The Church, Traveling Companion, Scarlet Diva, and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things). At the height of my madness, I spent $400 on a first edition of the book Art Of Darkness: the Cinema Of Dario Argento from the bastards at Alibris through my job at Books-A-Million. I shit you not. That’s about how much after my employee discount. After losing my job at BAM (the fucks), I had to sell it. Losing that book still burns more than losing that job, or any job. Hopefully, I can find it again (and cheaper).

My ultimate goal is to eventually get to Rome to go to Profondo Rosso, the Dario Argento store. As nice as it would be to see the mother country, I don’t know that I would need to see anything else. Insanity? Probably, but so goes the price of extreme fandom.

  1. I am not at all familiar with Dario Argento, but these films sound fascinating, at least from a view of being visually stunning and unlike anything you had seen before. I am familiar with Asia, although not in a worshipful stance as that which you speak of here. I do recall her being more talented than that empty tissue box Vin Diesel in XXX.
    As for Goblin, I am intrigued. It is Goblin, correct? Because the blog title says Gobin. I would have changed it but didn’t wish to in the case that it is indeed Gobin, not Goblin. Although I doubt that. Goblin sounds more legit

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