Dario Argento  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Dario Argento (born 7 September 1940) is an Italian filmmaker working in the horror genre during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in the subgenre known as giallo.

His films as director include the "Animal Trilogy", consisting of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971); the "Three Mothers" trilogy, consisting of Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980) and The Mother of Tears (2007); and the standalone films Deep Red (1975), Tenebrae (1982), Phenomena (1985), and Opera (1987). He co-wrote the screenplay for Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and served as George A. Romero's script consultant on Dawn of the Dead (1978), of which he also composed the soundtrack with his long-time collaborators Goblin.


Early life

Argento was born in Rome, the son of Sicilian film producer and executive Salvatore Argento (1914–1987) and Brazilian photographer Elda Luxardo, who was of Italian ancestry. He began his career in film as a critic, writing for magazines while still attending high school. Argento did not attend college, electing rather to take a job as a columnist at the newspaper Paese Sera. While working at the newspaper, Argento also began working as a screenwriter. His most notable work was for Sergio Leone; Bernardo Bertolucci and he collaborated on the story for the Spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West.



Argento began work on his directorial debut, the giallo film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo, 1970), which was a major hit in Italy. Argento continued to concentrate largely on the giallo genre, directing two more successful thrillers, The Cat o' Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code, 1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (4 mosche di velluto grigio, 1972). Along with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, these three films are frequently referred to as Argento's "Animal Trilogy". The director then turned his attention away from giallo movies, filming two Italian TV dramas and a period comedy, The Five Days (Le cinque giornate, 1973). Argento returned to thrillers with Deep Red (1975), frequently cited by many critics as the best giallo ever made. The film made Argento known internationally and inspired other directors to work in the genre. John Carpenter has frequently referred to the influence Argento's early work had on Halloween (1978).

Argento's next film was Suspiria (1977), a supernatural horror. Argento planned for Suspiria to be the first of a trilogy about "The Three Mothers", three ancient witches residing in three different modern cities. The second film of the trilogy was 1980's Inferno. The Mother of Tears (2007) concluded the trilogy.

In 1978, Argento collaborated with George A. Romero on Dawn of the Dead, earning a producer credit and also providing soundtrack work for the zombie film. Argento oversaw the European release of the film, where it was titled Zombi, which was much shorter and featured more of the score written and performed by Goblin.


After Inferno, Argento returned to the more conventional giallo style with Tenebrae (1982). He then attempted to combine giallo and supernatural fantasy in 1985's Phenomena, also known as Creepers, which was one of Jennifer Connelly's earliest movies. Phenomena also showed Argento's predilection for using new technology, as evidenced by the film's several prowling Steadicam shots. Both films received a lukewarm reception upon their release (although each has been positively reappraised since).Template:Citation needed

Argento subsequently took a break from directing to write two screenplays for Mario Bava's son, Lamberto Bava: Dèmoni (1985) and Dèmoni 2 (1986).

Opera followed in 1987. Set in Parma's Regio Theatre during a production of Verdi's Macbeth, the production was beset by real-life misfortunes that Argento suspected were caused by the supposed traditional "curse" on the Shakespearean play. Argento's father died during its production, Vanessa Redgrave quit the project before filming began, he had problems working with his former long-time girlfriend and collaborator Daria Nicolodi on-set, and the cast and crew were plagued by several minor accidents and mishaps.

In 1987–88, Argento produced a TV series called Turno di Notte, which had 15 episodes. Nine of the shows were directed by Luigi Cozzi, the other six by Lamberto Bava. Daria Nicolodi and Asia Argento starred in several of the episodes.


During the early 1990s, Argento was in the process of collaborating with Italian director Lucio Fulci on a horror film. Due to financial trouble, the project was continually postponed. In 1996, Argento was able to gather funding, but was unable to collaborate with Fulci, who died in March that year. The film was later directed by Sergio Stivaletti as The Wax Mask, with Argento and Fulci both receiving screenwriting credits.

His 1996 film The Stendhal Syndrome, in which a policewoman (played by Argento's daughter, Asia) who suffers from Stendhal syndrome is trapped by a serial killer in an abandoned warehouse, was the first Italian film to use computer-generated imagery. Moreover, the film's opening scene was shot in Florence at Italy's famed Uffizi Gallery. Argento is the only director ever granted permission to shoot there. The Stendhal Syndrome was distributed in the U.S. by cult B-movie distribution company Troma Entertainment. He later directed 1998's The Phantom of the Opera and 2001's Sleepless.

2000s and 2010s

2004's The Card Player, a giallo about a killer whose murders are conducted during Internet poker matches with the Rome police, earned a mixed reception; some fans appreciated the techno music score composed by ex-Goblin member Claudio Simonetti, but felt the film was too mainstream, with little of Argento's usual flourish.

In the 2005 TV broadcast of Argento's Do You Like Hitchcock?, the director paid homage to Alfred Hitchcock after decades of being compared to him by critics. Later that year, he directed an episode of Masters of Horror, a Showtime television series, called "Jenifer". For season two of the series, Argento directed "Pelts", an adaption of the F. Paul Wilson short story of the same name.

In 2007, Argento finished the final film of his Three Mothers trilogy, The Mother of Tears, which is set in Rome and centers on the titular "third mother", Mater Lacrimarum. Argento and Jace Anderson share writing credits for the film. Asia Argento was cast as the lead player, along with her mother and frequent Argento collaborator Daria Nicolodi in a supporting role. Udo Kier, who appeared in Argento's Suspiria, and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, who appeared in three of his previous films, both have pivotal roles in the final Mothers chapter.

On 26 June 2009, Giallo premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival. The following month, he announced that he had started working on a 3D remake of Deep Red, but subsequently this project was shelved due to the commercial failure of Giallo in Italian cinemas. He then announced his decision to write a new screenplay . On 4 March 2011, it was announced that Rutger Hauer had signed on to play Van Helsing in Argento's Dracula 3D, which began shooting in Budapest later in the year. It was released on 19 May 2012.

In 2014, Argento was slated to direct The Sandman, which had Iggy Pop attached to star and a script by David Tully. The film successfully raised over $195,000 from over 1,000 backers on Indiegogo in December 2014. However, filming has not commenced as of 2019, and the project producers have not updated the film's status to backers since August 2017.

Italian director Luca Guadagnino helmed Suspiria (2018), a remake of Argento's 1977 film. The American screenplay is based on the original script Argento wrote with Daria Nicolodi, his former long-term partner.

In 2019, Argento announced that he was developing a female-led serial movie, consisting of eight episodes, for a streaming service.

In March 2019, Argento was announced as the "artistic director" on Clod Studio's crowdfunded video game Dreadful Bond.



Title Year Credited as
Director Writer Producer Editor Composer Actor Role
Scusi, lei è favorevole o contrario?
1966 Template:Yes Template:Yes Priest
Qualcuno ha tradito
1967 Template:Yes
Oggi a me... domani a te! (Today It's Me... Tomorrow You!)
1968 Template:Yes
Comandamenti per un gangster Template:Yes
Commandos Template:Yes
La rivoluzione sessuale Template:Yes
C'era una volta il West
Une corde, un Colt... (The Rope and the Colt...)
1969 Template:Yes
Metti, una sera a cena (One Night at Dinner)
Probabilità zero Template:Yes
La legione dei dannati (Legion of the Damned)
Un esercito di cinque uomini
La stagione dei sensi
L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo
1970 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Murderer's Hands (uncredited)
Il gatto a nove code
1971 Template:Yes Template:Yes
4 mosche di velluto grigio
Template:Yes Template:Yes
Così sia (So Be It)
1973 Template:Yes
Le cinque giornate
Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Bandaged man with Tranzunto (uncredited)
Profondo rosso
1975 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Murderer's Hands (uncredited)
Suspiria 1977 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Narrator (voice; uncredited)
1978 Template:Yes (Uncredited, European Cut) Template:Yes
(Uncredited, European Cut) Template:Yes
Inferno 1980 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Narrator (voice; uncredited)
1982 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Narrator; Murderer's Hands (voice; uncredited)
1985 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Narrator (voice; uncredited)
Template:Yes Template:Yes
Dèmoni 2
1986 Template:Yes Template:Yes
1987 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes Narrator (voice; uncredited)
La chiesa
1989 Template:Yes Template:Yes
Due occhi diabolici (The Black Cat episode only)
1990 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
La Setta (The Sect)
1991 Template:Yes Template:Yes
Innocent Blood 1992 Template:Yes Paramedic
1993 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes (uncredited)
La sindrome di Stendhal
1996 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
Il cielo è sempre più blu (The Sky is Always Bluer)
Template:Yes Man Confessing To Franciscan Monk
M.D.C. - Maschera di cera
1997 Template:Yes Template:Yes
Il fantasma dell'opera
1998 Template:Yes Template:Yes
Scarlet Diva 2000 Template:Yes
Non ho sonno (I Can't Sleep)
2001 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
Il cartaio
2004 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
La Terza madre (The Third Mother)
2007 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
Giallo 2009 Template:Yes Template:Yes
Dracula 3D 2012 Template:Yes Template:Yes
Suspiria 2018 inspired by the 1977 film's script<ref>Jagernauth, Kenneth (June 24, 2015). "David Gordon Green Says 'Suspiria' Would've Been "Operatic," Remake Still Happening But He Won't Direct". IndieWire. </ref>
The Sandman TBA Template:Yes
Occhiali neri
TBA Template:Yes Template:Yes


Title Year Credited as
Director Writer Producer Editor Composer Actor Role
Door into Darkness
1973 Template:Yes Template:Yes Template:Yes
Turno di Notte 1987 Template:Yes
Ti piace Hitchcock?
2005 Template:Yes Template:Yes
Masters of Horror
2005–2006 Template:Yes
Tutti pazzi per amore 2010 Template:Yes Ugo, presidente commissione d'esame
100 Bullets D'Argento 2012 Template:Yes D'Argento
Longinus TBA Template:Yes


1993 – The King of Ads (director)

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