Dario Argento: An Eye For Horror

Dario Argento: An Eye For Horror (1997)
Image Entertainment
Cast: Dario Argento, John Carpenter, George Romero

Those who are unfamiliar with the films of Italian director Dario Argento may be surprised to learn that ’Dario Argento: An Eye For Horror’ is at least the fourth documentary to examine the life and works of this acclaimed filmmaker. And while Argento’s films are still considered an acquired taste by many viewers, there is obviously a demand to learn everything possible about the man and his movies. ’Dario Argento: An Eye For Horror’ does an excellent job of maintaining a balanced approach to exploring the world of Argento. It is one part biography and one part film history lesson.

Through film clips and interviews, the viewer is given an overview of the films from Argento’s long career and the man’s life-story as well. We learn about Argento’s family and his introduction to filmmaking. From there, ’An Eye For Horror’ examines the path, which Argento’s career has taken. Argento himself gives many candid details here, discussing his nightmares, his childhood, and his career. There are also interviews with Argento’s collaborators, such as brother Claudio, daughters Asia and Fiore, co-writer (and mother of Asia) Daria Nicolodi, as well as many others. But, we also get perspectives from other filmmakers, such as John Carpenter, George Romero, and FX-master Tom Savini, who divulge their admiration for Argento’s work. Filling in the gaps are Argento biographers Alan Jones and Maitland McDonagh (if you haven’t read her book, ’Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds’, read it!) Long-time Argentophiles probably won’t learn anything new from ’An Eye For Horror’ and it does cover some of the same ground as the recent documentaries on Anchor Bay’s ’Suspiria’ and ’Opera’ DVDs. (There is some behind-the-scenes footage from Argento’s latest film ’Non ho Sonno’, but it’s never mentioned by name.) However, this documentary is very concise and well-made and it’s a pleasure to have all of this info on one of the world’s greatest directors in one place. And for horror fans, it’s a treat to see icons like Carpenter and Romero offering such abject praise to another director.

Image Entertainment brings ’Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror’ to DVD. This documentary is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 1.78:1. (I’m assuming that this widesreen treatment stems from the fact that ’An Eye for Horror’ was made for European TV.) This film uses many different elements, so the video quality varies at times. The interviews were shot on video and are cystal clear. The clips from Argento’s various films and from earlier behind-the-scenes docs vary in quality, but most look very good, showing only slight grain. On an important note, all of the film clips are shown in their original aspect ratio. Overall, this transfer, showing no distortion or overt artifacting, looks very good. The audio on ’An Eye For Horror’ is a Dolby Digital Stereo mix that offers clear dialogue and no hiss. Sure, the music from ’Suspiria’ doesn’t pack much of a wallop, but what do you expect from a documentary? The transfer on ’Dario Argento: An Eye For Horror’ can certainly be considered broadcast quality, and does justice to the material presented.