Day 12 of 31
Director: Dario Argento.
Starring: Christina Marsillach, Daria Nicolodi, Urbano Barberini, Ian Charleson . Italy. 1h 47m
Slightly arthouse but very gothic, this epic giallo film from legend Dario Argento see a fusion of opera and slasher collide in this suspense filled macabre horror. Seemingly inspired by the tragic Macbeth, that is the exact plat which Betty, a stunning understudy is working on when she is stalked by a hooded sadistic killer whose main objective is to torture Betty by forcing her to watch him kill but how’s cunning managed to keep his anonymity. On the opening night of the Verdi Opera, a stage hand is killed and all of the ravens that were brought in for the tragic opera, but the curse of Macbeth lives on and Betty is soon on the run. As the film slowly progresses every new character is a potential killer and Betty soon realises she can trust no one, a bulk of the film is literally Betty randomly getting pounced on, then upon waking up in a bound/gagged situation and unable to look away as an innocent person is brutally slaughtered in an outlandish way.
There is a unique feel in this gothic art house giallo, it has the loud badly dubbed soundtrack like so many others but the killer toys with the victims in such a bizarre manner, being one of the few gialli that focuses more on the torture aspect than bizarre settings and a horrific murders.
Poor (not so ugly) Betty, grapples to find sanctuary from this nightmare, one of the more memorable scenes is when she’s getting fitted for a costume when she finds herself bound with tape placed on her face with needles poking up ensuring that she can’t avoid watching the tailor get brutalised,and then a impromptu autopsy is performed on her after she swallows the killers bracelet. Each attack is like a small drama stage play in itself, with the intense lighting and pounding music. The torture method was one conjured up by Argento himself when joking about people shying away from his murder scenes in the cinema, he threatened to tape pins under their eyes so they couldn’t look away and materialised the fascinating idea here.
Verdi’s opera is infamous for bringing bad luck but the aesthetics inspired Argento to be a little bit more experimental with the visuals, from the early scene filmed from the black reflection of a crow’s eye to the haunting dream sequences and flashbacks suffered by Betty. The varied and well executed effects and camera work pays off, everything about the film is about an voyeurism and being centre stage, and every element is arranged in such a way where it’s all very much centre stage and “look at me”, and Argento didn’t really need to force us to look at this marvel as his attempts to make it stunning have mesmerized fans for years.
After several grisly murders and lots of flashbacks there are two epic endings, one follows on nicely and the other hits you like a bat out of hell.. And shouldn’t be missed,
R – Watch me when I kill, New York Ripper, Bird with Crystal Plumage
L – A-Z of Giallo, Italian Cinema, Crazy endings
A – My love affair with Giallo