Dario Argento: The Man, the Myth & the Magic by Alan Jones. Reviewed by Andrew Tadman. @thebooksofblood. 5 Stars
Dario Argento is undeniably a horror legend. His horror and giallo films have proven groundbreaking, bringing us such classics as Suspiria, Tenebrae and Deep Red, to name but a few from an illustrious body of work. His bold visual imagery and use of color on the screen have rarely been matched.
This book provides an in-depth examination of his career, both as a director and a producer, looking at each of his films in chronological order. It's clear that Alan Jones, the journalist who put this together, is a dedicated fan of Argento and that comes through with his enthusiastic writing and thirst for detail and knowledge about the man and his work. After the background and discussion of each film, Jones follows up with a review, detailed production information, and shooting locations. Dario Argento: The Man, the Myths & the Magic is the third edition of this book, originally published in 2004. This edition contains additional material and brings the filmography covered up to date. It includes a foreword by BBC film critic Mark Kermode.
Throughout the book, Jones gives us interviews with other high-profile directors, effects artists, musicians and actors who have worked with Argento during his extensive career. These include interviews with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and his daughter and often used lead actress, Asia, but the most important voice is Argento's. The interviews provide great insight into the creative process, struggles with studios, and the vision of Argento. He's a very confident, driven man who knows what he wants. His single-mindedness can be almost funny at times. It's clear he's the maestro. It's a joy to read his thoughts on his movies and find out where some of his ideas originated. There are plenty of arguments and conflicts covered in this book from quarreling with Romero about too much comedy in Dawn of the Dead to arguing with Fulci that there was not enough gore in a movie. The depth in this book is incredible. Even his relationship with Goblin, the band that provided the soundtrack to many of his movies, is covered. It would be hard to imagine his movies without them.
This hefty tome is gorgeous and filled with hundreds of color and black & white photos, stills, and movie art. The behind-the-scenes photos taken during shooting are really fascinating. It's a visual treat on top of excellent writing. It could be argued that some of Argento's magic waned in his later years with Mother of Tears (which I actually loved) and Dracula 3D. However, it's impossible to argue against his impact on film-making and horror. This exhaustive book is a must for Argento fans and for fans of Italian horror. There has been no more thorough examination of his work.