Chauvel cinema (the one and only surviving arthouse theatre in Sydney, sad I know) is playing four of Argento's classic horror films in the next four weeks. I attended the first one last friday, it was a double feature of Argento's Suspiria and Romero's Dawn of the Dead.
I'm ashamed to say that I have never heard of Dario Argento until now and was pleasantly surpirsed by Suspiria. Argento knows his visuals. In every scene, despite the cheesy special effects, Argento was still able to evoke terror from within me through his masterful use of shots. The things that were happening did start to get ridiculous at times but I do love a director who is unafraid of giving us absurd, which I think produces a much more entertaining film as opposed to having it held back.
The plot is the film's weakest element, but it is also irrelevant. I didn't care about the story, I just wanted to sit back and marvel at the visual feast emanating from the screen. The music by the Goblins fits perfectly into the film, it's unsettling and creepy and althought it played excessively throughout the film, not once did I ever get tired of it. The dialogue is hilarious but I wasn't quite sure whether it was intentional or not. The opening scene was jaw-droppingly good, the visuals, the colour, the shots used and the sound were all balanced and played harmoniously together, creating a scene that I think would make Hitchcock and Coppola proud.
Dawn of the Dead, was the weaker of the two for me (I have a feeling some would disagree with me). It was funny, but it wasn't hilarious. There wasn't really any tension for me, probably because I never really cared about the characters in the first place. On the other hand, I do think that the film holds an important message, the film is an allegory of the consumerist values of the 70s American society which, in my opinion, is still relevant to the wider society today. There were some gruesome scenes, which I can imagine would have created quite a stir among audiences who saw it on it's original release. But overall, I just did not find the movie entertaining and I found myself checking my watch constantly, and actually hoping for the credits to play.
Next Friday, I might go see another Argento screening (they're playing Tenebre with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre) or wait another week for Phenomena or Wes Craven's Last House on the Left. But I'm more excited about the Scorcese classics screenings which begins near the end of March, might finally get to see Raging Bull.