Five Favorite Films with Dario Argento

The legendary Italian horror director talks about his favorite filmmakers, his take on Dracula, and the changing world of film criticism.

Dario Argento needs little introduction to horror movie fans. The former movie critic got his start collaborating on screenplays like Sergio Leone's towering Once Upon a Time in the West, before launching his career in the 1970s with a string of giallo hits like The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, The Cat o' Nine Tails and Deep Red, then crafting such cult horror classics as 1977's Suspiria -- a supernatural one-of-a-kind that cemented Argento's reputation and brought his avant garde soundtrack composers Goblin to enduring attention. In the years since Argento has followed his own particular path, working with George Romero on Dawn of the Dead, introducing the world to Jennifer Connelly in Phenomena, and directing daughter Asia, herself a writer-director, in many of his pictures. And while his critical fortunes may have waned, Argento continues to be a revered figure among cinephiles and horror fans alike. With his 3D take on Dracula currently in limited release, we spoke to Argento about his career, film criticism and his favorite movies -- which, faced with the rather daunting challenge, he instead turned into a discussion of his favorite filmmakers.

For me it's difficult to say five favorites, because I saw too many films. It's better to say five directors, and why I love the films by these directors. Alfred Hitchcock, you know, most of his films were a great influence on my old films, also. Sorry it's hard to pick individual films. It's very, very difficult.




Ingmar Bergman, from the beginning, was one of the most interesting directors in the world for me.




Luis Bu˝uel. This was a great, fantastic, marvelous director. His fantasy and surrealist work was so great, but also the period that was very interesting was the period when he was in Mexico. He did marvelous films in Mexico, too.




Michelangelo Antonioni inspired me with lots of his films. He inspired many of my films, with the style and the philosophy of his movies. They were important to my films.




And also, I don't want to forget Fritz Lang, one of my favorite directors. With Fritz Lang, there were lots of different periods, like when he was in Germany and the the was in the United States; they were very different periods, and very interesting. He was an Expressionist and then his films were very frightening when he was in the United States.





Next, Argento on why he made a Dracula movie, working with Goblin on Suspiria, and whether or not the critics understand his movies.

Comments

King  S.

King Simba

"think some critics don't understand my work and my films very well"

Funny. That's what M. Night Shayamalan keeps saying.

Oct 11 - 12:23 AM

Esteban Martinez

Esteban Martinez

The difference is that Argento actually has made more than one good movie, and most of his work is highly rewatchable.

Oct 11 - 08:43 AM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

Shyamalan is a hack while Argento just couldn't keep up with the times. His earlier stuff is great but after about '87 it gets bad, real bad. And this new Dracula 3D seems like no exception.

Oct 11 - 09:57 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

There have been minor spots of brightness. His "Black Cat" in Two Evil Eyes was good (as are his Masters of Horror episodes), the bootleg cut of Trauma and his Mother of Tears are also solid, but, yes, his 70-87 era is excellent.

Oct 11 - 11:11 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I fail to see the relevance between the two directors. Michael Bay would probably say the same thing. So what?

Oct 11 - 11:03 AM

King  S.

King Simba

Well, both started out very promisingly in the thriller/horror genre and early on were commonly compared to Hitchcock, only to witness a dramatic drop in quality to the point that their films didn't just became bad, they became aggressively bad (though, of course Argento's been around for much longer than Shyamalan).

Anyway, that's not really my point. My point is too many directors keep using that "I'm so misunderstood!" excuse every time they make a bad film. Heck, those behind Lone Ranger even went so far as to publically blame critics for the failure of their film (because it's so unheard of for a summer popcorn flick to make a ton of cash despite bad reviews). It just reeks of sour grapes in my opinion. True, to his credit, Argento is himself a former critic, but unless the trailers for Dracula 3D are for a completely different film I fail to see how critics are misunderstanding it.

Oct 11 - 01:27 PM

Chad Anderson

Chad Anderson

The difference between the directors is that Shyamalan's good films only occupy a space of 5 years where as Argento made quality films for nearly 20 years.

Oct 13 - 09:52 AM

Esteban Martinez

Esteban Martinez

The difference is that Argento actually has made more than one good movie, and most of his work is highly rewatchable.

Oct 11 - 08:43 AM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

Shyamalan is a hack while Argento just couldn't keep up with the times. His earlier stuff is great but after about '87 it gets bad, real bad. And this new Dracula 3D seems like no exception.

Oct 11 - 09:57 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

There have been minor spots of brightness. His "Black Cat" in Two Evil Eyes was good (as are his Masters of Horror episodes), the bootleg cut of Trauma and his Mother of Tears are also solid, but, yes, his 70-87 era is excellent.

Oct 11 - 11:11 AM

Esteban Martinez

Esteban Martinez

Interesting list, Hour of the Wolf and Un Chien Andalou are very interesting, potent films.

Oct 11 - 08:44 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I would like to hope that Hour of the Wolf is Argento's favorite Bergman film.

Oct 11 - 11:13 AM

Luke Goodsell

Luke Goodsell

I dropped that one in there for the very same reasons

Oct 12 - 10:42 AM

Sir Phobos

Sir Phobos

ZzzzzzZ huh wha?

Oct 11 - 09:39 AM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

Shyamalan is a hack while Argento just couldn't keep up with the times. His earlier stuff is great but after about '87 it gets bad, real bad. And this new Dracula 3D seems like no exception.

Oct 11 - 09:57 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

There have been minor spots of brightness. His "Black Cat" in Two Evil Eyes was good (as are his Masters of Horror episodes), the bootleg cut of Trauma and his Mother of Tears are also solid, but, yes, his 70-87 era is excellent.

Oct 11 - 11:11 AM

Nathan S.

Nathan Sellers

Sweet list! He just named five of my top ten favorite directors. I thought he was going to throw Sergio Leone and Stabely Kubrick in the mix.

Oct 11 - 10:51 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I fail to see the relevance between the two directors. Michael Bay would probably say the same thing. So what?

Oct 11 - 11:03 AM

King  S.

King Simba

Well, both started out very promisingly in the thriller/horror genre and early on were commonly compared to Hitchcock, only to witness a dramatic drop in quality to the point that their films didn't just became bad, they became aggressively bad (though, of course Argento's been around for much longer than Shyamalan).

Anyway, that's not really my point. My point is too many directors keep using that "I'm so misunderstood!" excuse every time they make a bad film. Heck, those behind Lone Ranger even went so far as to publically blame critics for the failure of their film (because it's so unheard of for a summer popcorn flick to make a ton of cash despite bad reviews). It just reeks of sour grapes in my opinion. True, to his credit, Argento is himself a former critic, but unless the trailers for Dracula 3D are for a completely different film I fail to see how critics are misunderstanding it.

Oct 11 - 01:27 PM

Chad Anderson

Chad Anderson

The difference between the directors is that Shyamalan's good films only occupy a space of 5 years where as Argento made quality films for nearly 20 years.

Oct 13 - 09:52 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

There have been minor spots of brightness. His "Black Cat" in Two Evil Eyes was good (as are his Masters of Horror episodes), the bootleg cut of Trauma and his Mother of Tears are also solid, but, yes, his 70-87 era is excellent.

Oct 11 - 11:11 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I would like to hope that Hour of the Wolf is Argento's favorite Bergman film.

Oct 11 - 11:13 AM

Luke Goodsell

Luke Goodsell

I dropped that one in there for the very same reasons

Oct 12 - 10:42 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Man, as hilariously awful as those Dracula trailers look, there's a part of me that really wants to see this and discover an overlooked Hammer homage. As a fan, I'm sure to see it eventually, I just don't want to get my hopes up. I agree with what he says about 3D being more useful for "depth" than projections, and his comment on today's film criticism being "not so deep or profound" echoes my sentiments exactly. It bears repeating:

"The analysis is important. Some years ago it was better. Now it's too light, too simple, the criticism. They write just the story, some words about the actors, and it's finished. It doesn't put the films in some movement. Films are many things inside, you know: the art and the color, and also the poetics and the ideas. Many things. But you don't read this in the critics today."

Take note, amateur RT critics.

Oct 11 - 11:17 AM

Luke Goodsell

Luke Goodsell

Glad this was noted; this is what's called bombing the system from the inside.

Oct 12 - 10:40 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Great job, btw.

Oct 12 - 05:42 PM

King  S.

King Simba

Well, both started out very promisingly in the thriller/horror genre and early on were commonly compared to Hitchcock, only to witness a dramatic drop in quality to the point that their films didn't just became bad, they became aggressively bad (though, of course Argento's been around for much longer than Shyamalan).

Anyway, that's not really my point. My point is too many directors keep using that "I'm so misunderstood!" excuse every time they make a bad film. Heck, those behind Lone Ranger even went so far as to publically blame critics for the failure of their film (because it's so unheard of for a summer popcorn flick to make a ton of cash despite bad reviews). It just reeks of sour grapes in my opinion. True, to his credit, Argento is himself a former critic, but unless the trailers for Dracula 3D are for a completely different film I fail to see how critics are misunderstanding it.

Oct 11 - 01:27 PM

Chad Anderson

Chad Anderson

The difference between the directors is that Shyamalan's good films only occupy a space of 5 years where as Argento made quality films for nearly 20 years.

Oct 13 - 09:52 AM

Armond White Sucks

Michael Baldelli

I like to think I know movies (from all ages and countries) but I've never heard of this guy.

Oct 11 - 07:29 PM

Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Sounds like a personal problem to me.

Oct 11 - 09:13 PM

Holly Jolly

Holly Jolly

Well "Juno" sure loved him.

Oct 12 - 08:53 PM

Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Sounds like a personal problem to me.

Oct 11 - 09:13 PM

BatMime

Philip Zamora

I understand what he means when he says it is hard to choose five films. He says he has this problem because he has seen too many films and narrowing it down is impossible for him, and that is my problem too.

Oct 12 - 02:53 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Narrowing down to your favorite 50 films is difficult enough, as you may know ;)

Oct 12 - 05:43 PM

Kennie Cherrie

Kennie Cherrie

just watched Dracula the other day, not my favorite Dracula movie but I liked it and i've seen zillion of Dracula movies

Oct 12 - 04:51 AM

Luke Goodsell

Luke Goodsell

Glad this was noted; this is what's called bombing the system from the inside.

Oct 12 - 10:40 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Great job, btw.

Oct 12 - 05:42 PM

Luke Goodsell

Luke Goodsell

I dropped that one in there for the very same reasons

Oct 12 - 10:42 AM

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