Dario Argento probably isn’t for everyone. Not only is horror the genre that seems to turn surprisingly large swathes of people off, but Argento’s brand of giallo is so specific and tonally distinct, if you’re not on board with the type of heightened gore and high-intensity colour scheme and hilariously abrasive music he employs, then you’re probably not going to get a lot out of the rest of his filmography.
But if you are going to tackle a career such as Argento’s, you need someone who knows what they’re doing to guide you through. And there’s nobody better for that than this month’s guest, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, who not only knows Argento’s films back to back, but quite literally wrote the book on him.
Her insight and unique perspective means that we were treated to a view of Argento unlike any other you’ll find out there. Case in point:
“I’ve always felt that Razorback was the Australian Suspiria. I’ve been laughed at a lot for that.”
It was also pretty fortuitous that when we suggested doing a mini-Hyphenate this month, not only was she up for the additional work, but turned out to be a huge fan of Herk Harvey… something we had not anticipated when we floated the idea to her. That, folks, is kismet.
Harvey was a horror filmmaker with a completely different sensibility to Argento, and unlike Argento, only made the one feature film. If you’re not familiar with his name or you haven’t seen Carnival of Souls, then this episode is going to whet your appetite in a big way.
We also broke a few rules with the reviews this month. We begin the segment with Woody Allen’s Irrational Man (which came out in August), then continue with Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room (which played at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August), and conclude with Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting On Existence (which didn’t play anywhere in Australia in August).
Our reviews are always tilted in favour of new works by filmmakers we’ve covered on the show before, but not all films get releases. And we so wanted to talk about Maddin and Andersson’s latest works, we thought we’d break a few of those self-imposed rules and make sure they didn’t pass us by. Because they’re both amazing creations from some amazing filmmakers, and it would be criminal to miss them.
Anyway, listen to the show. It’s a good one.
- Pre-order Devil’s Advocates, Alex’s book on Argento’s Suspiria, here!
- And post-order all of her other amazing books here, including Found Footage Horror Films: Fear and the Appearance of Reality, Rape Revenge Films: A Critical Study and all the ones she’s contributed to!
- Alex refers in the show to a commercial for Fiat that Dario Argento made in Australia. You can watch the commercial here:
Outro music: score from Suspiria (1977), composed by Dario Argento, Agostino Marangolo, Massimo Morante, Fabio Pignatelli and Claudio Simonetti, and performed by Goblin