When I heard about the Beware of Dario Argento: A 20-Film Retrospective in New York City, I agonized for a couple of weeks about how to attend. I have been a huge Dario Argento fan since seeing Creepers (Phenomena) in 1984. Back then, as a teenager, that movie inspired me to take a deep dive into discovering Argento’s works. The films I could find were mostly heavily censored by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America)—ironically, the ratings board has recently censored its own name to MPA. I followed his work and first got access to underground VHS tapes from Marshall Discount Video, which I discovered from an ad in Fangoria magazine, until I found the grail of uncut Japanese Laserdiscs.
In the 90s, I finally was able to meet Dario at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors at the New Yorker Hotel in NYC. It was a great event and my second attempt, as the previous year he did not show up to a similar convention due to scheduling issues. In that lonely time, I remember watching the premiere of The Stendhal Syndrome and feeling disappointed by both the cancellation and the schizoid feel of the film.
This new opportunity came out of the blue and was a career retrospective of 20 films. Seventeen of them have been restored in 4k by Cinecittà. I think the only one missing from the line-up was Giallo, due to past litigation. Time was short and my mind swirled with the possibilities of seeing Dario Argento in person again since he was doing Q&As for Phenomena and Deep Red and intros for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Tenebrae, Suspiria, and his newest film, Dark Sunglasses, for its North American premiere.
First, I booked a ticket at Film at Lincoln Center for the premiere, figuring I would add more screenings when I figured out travel logistics. Second, I looked at hotels and they were crazy expensive. Long ago, I had stayed at the hostel on Amsterdam and 101st and that seemed like an affordable option. The downside was shared rooms and the remnants of the pandemic. Third, was travel to New York. I compared bus and train options and hemmed and hawed until I found I good deal on Amtrak. I finally made up my mind, got the deal into the cart, added my information, and hit the button to purchase. And my hopes were dashed when I got a message saying that parts of my trip were no longer available. I tried again to the same result even with the website saying the deal was available. Minutes later the deal was gone. I felt at a loss but something snapped and I made a decision to terminate the entire plan in that moment.
The truth is that times are different now. When I was lucky enough to meet Argento in the past, there was actually a moment where we got to talk one-on-one. I told him how he inspired me, and he was warm and touched. He even signed my Deep Red book cover. That experience would not happen today. The realization struck home after I let the trip go and saw the videos of the event as they appeared on You Tube. The Q&As and intros were cool, but not worth the expense and stress of travel. I also realized that there was no need to recreate the past when I got it right the first time.
I am looking forward to Dark Sunglasses from Shudder this fall.
My Argento inspired giallo book is coming September 6th, 2022!
On an idyllic retreat to a mountain cabin, Enola Ranson accidentally breaks a lamp and discovers a covert listening device. Persuaded by her horror writer husband, Guy, who is intrigued by the analog transmitter, they set out to solve the mystery.
Strange wiring inside the cabin, hidden recordings, a mafia past, a boy witness, and an eerie modulation noise are all clues to past murders. Time is running short as an escaped lunatic is on the loose, finishing what they started and stopping anyone who knows.
Will Enola and Guy uncover the secrets of the past, or will they become the next victims?