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Top 10 Dario Argento Films

The films of Argento are commonplace in the annals of the cult horror kingdom due to their gore-splattered violence and B-movie charm. Here is a compilation of the top ten most shocking and entertaining. For those that know Argento’s films this should be a pleasant trip down memory lane. For those that don’t – hopefully it will give you some new material for your Netflix queue.

10

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

1970 B-movie classic, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, depicts the tale of an American writer in Rome who lives with his model girlfriend and suffers from severe writer’s block. He plans on returning to the US until he witnesses the brutal attack of a woman by a black gloved, raincoat wearing assailant. For some reason the police take his passport as he bears witness to the supposed serial killer that’s been terrifying the capital. American Dalmas starts to receive bizarre phone calls with the glitchy noise of a bird that is confirmed to be the rare Southern Caucasus i.e. the bird with the crystal plumage. Reported to only be held captive in Rome’s zoo he soon discovers the killer’s predictable residency.

9

Deep Red

Music teacher Marcus Daly witnesses the gruesome murder of psychic medium Helga Ullman – cue his investigation into finding the killer that leads to the introduction of various colorful characters, such as Ullman’s associate Dr Giordani and reporter Gianna Brezzi with whom Daly embarks on a passionate affair. During Daly’s investigation he misses a vital clue (amongst many). A painting that hung in Ullman’s apartment at the time of her murder has vanished by the time the police arrive. Daly’s negligence leads to one murder after another. During the initial killing, a bizarre, childish rhyme plays out signaling the killer’s calling card. After hearing it in his own apartment he plays it to a psychiatrist who concludes that the song must play an integral part in the psyche of the killer, maybe signifying a traumatic event in their childhood. Being right, this leads to Daly’s eventual capture of the killer.


8

Tenebrae

Inspired by the horror novels of Peter Neal, newsreader Berti goes on a lustful killing spree of beautiful women in Rome. Cue the convoluted story line of Peter Neal’s immediate and coincidental arrival in Rome with his agent and smitten assistant while being incidentally followed by his loathsome ex-wife. Berti is memorably hacked to death by an unknown assailant, however the murders continue. The murderer isn’t revealed until Neal’s ex-wife Jane is sitting in the kitchen when an axe-wielding madman crashes through the window chopping her arm off before hacking her body down into a mince induced death. Neal himself, upon learning of Berti, was jolted into recalling his repressed memory of being sexually humiliated by a girl in his youth which led to him brutally killing her; thus awakening his repressed blood lust which renders him insane which leads him to fake his own death. Eventually, his assistant kills him by accidentally impaling him with a large metal sculpture.

7

Suspiria

Suzy, an American ballet student arrives in Germany to enroll at a prestigious dance academy. On her first day she makes arrangements to move in with a fellow student off-campus but a peculiar fainting spell sees her being placed in a dormitory against her will. She is told she must be medicated daily with wine. Shortly after, a freak accident occurs where millions of maggots rain from overhead. The terrified students are told it is because of rotten food in the attic. Because of the peculiar happenings the girls are housed in a makeshift dormitory where Suzy hears the distinctive sound of the school’s director even though they’re supposed to be off-campus for several weeks. Perplexed by the strange goings-on, Suzy approaches a psychologist, Dr Mandel who explains that the academy was founded by a Greek immigrant witch. Upon returning to the academy Suzy discovers all the students are at the theater. She is summoned down a secret passage by footsteps where she discovers the old coven is still at large, performing a sacred ritual of utmost deviancy.

6

Inferno

A book called the Three Mothers is discovered by poet Rose Eliot. Depicting the tale of three women who rule the world through tears, sorrow and darkness, the book was written by architect Varelli who built houses for the three women in Rome, New York and Freiburg. Suspecting she lives in one the houses, Rose corresponds with her brother in Rome. Using clues in the book she stumbles upon a hole in her cellar and after digging deeper, she discovers a flooded ballroom where a corpse floats to the surface. Two shadowed figures attempt to break into Rose’s apartment but ambush her as she tries to escape, brutally murdering her. Learning his sister is missing, Mark arrives in New York with Countess Elise. Discovering peculiar stains in her apartment he’s overcome and faints. A black robed figure attempts to drag Mark’s body away but notices Elise and stabs her to death. Using clues left by Rose, Mark eventually discovers the secret chamber under the cellar where he is confronted with Varelli and his maniacal nurse. Through a series of bizarre incidents, Varelli and his nurse are killed leaving Mark to escape.

5

Stendhal Syndrome

Asia Argento plays detective Anna Manni who is in pursuit of a serial killer in Florence. The Stendhal Syndrome is a condition in which people are bizarrely overcome by great works of art, rendering them in a state of delusion. The serial killer uses the syndrome to distract and confuse Manni in order to kidnap and rape her. She manages to escape, though severely traumatized, and she is led into having an epiphany moment giving her a more optimistic outlook on life.


4

Four Flies on Grey Velvet

Rock drummer Roberto Tobias is being stalked by an unknown assailant. Deciding to discover his identity, he pursues him only to be led to an abandoned theater. Confronting his stalker, a struggle breaks out and a switchblade is thrust at Tobias. A fight breaks out leading to the unknown stalker being stabbed to death in the orchestra pit. Meanwhile in the upper wings of the theater, a man is hiding out in a puppet mask, keeping watch on the fisticuffs that has broken out. The next day Tobias receives the murdered man’s ID in the post. Realizing the unknown witness has no intention of alerting the police the only reasonable explanation is that he’s trying to drive Tobias mad with fear and paranoia, but why?

3

Trauma

Anorexic Aura (Asia Argento) escapes from a psychiatric hospital, then meets David who kindly lets her live with him in order not to return to the hospital. Sadly, their union doesn’t last and Aura is taken back. Shortly after, bizarre murders of the hospital staff start taking place on rainy afternoons. The killer beheading the victims with a homemade garrote. When the murdered bodies of Aura’s parents are discovered David and Aura team up to discover the identity of the killer.


2

Sleepless

In 1983 Detective Moretti is investigating a series of killings in Turin known as the Dwarf Murders. The main suspect, a novelist Vincenzo de Fabritiis dies and the case is considered closed. That is until 17 years later when an identical string of murders start to take place and Moretti is drawn back in. Moretti teams up with Giacomo whose mother was murdered in the original killings. The murders continue, bringing the duo to the tragic realization that the killer is summoning their own death.

1

Opera

Young, naïve opera singer Betty suddenly finds herself in the lead role of Verdi’s Macbeth after the previous singer was in a car accident. During her first performance a murder takes place and soon after everyone connected to Betty meets an unfortunate demise. At the same time Betty acquires a stalker as many more bizarre murders occur. Meanwhile the young singer starts to have terrifying dreams in which her mother is confronted by a masked assailant. During her final performance the killer is revealed in a stunning and grotesque climax.



  • Arkon

    Never heard of this Dario guy, let alone the movies. Will give it a try though.

    • Ni99a

      Please tell us the about the movie when you are finished. We wanna make sure that it is not some pretentious avantgarde sh1t.

      • Blight

        It was the first thing to come to mind while reading this.

  • Huntr

    first

  • Boring to me , probly not the writers fault though, dont know enough about the subject to complain .

  • Jamie

    This is going to jump to one of the most popular in no time . Best in months . Enlightening…… as always debatable subjects will reign supreme on LV . 10/10

    • Ni99a

      If you are being sarcastic, it helps to know that there is a font for it. Or if you are lazy, the vertical mirror of the question mark symbol is the punctuation mark used for sarcasm.

      • Jamie

        Deadly serious?

        • He’s trolling for attention, as he does with everyone. He’s a bully who thinks that insulting people is a legitimate form of intelligent conversation. Sadly, he neither converses, nor is intelligent.

          Ignore him.

          • DocOc

            Wait…by posting this comment, aren’t you doing exactly what you say people shouldn’t do? (beside pointing out the obvious).

          • jamie

            I know who he is, i actually enjoy reading his comments.

          • Ni99a

            My mom didn’t hug me and my dad abused me orificely. What can I say?

          • DocOc: Just educating the public.

          • Ni99a’sDad

            Sorry about that. I wanted to abuse you a*nally but your b*utt was too ugly.

  • Missy

    Seen these movies. Yeah, they’re OK. Gotta go and teach violin.

  • Not a bad list. Nice job :)

  • roboroo

    Oh boy now heres list for some of us. Phemonena is great too and has a young Jennifer Connelly.

    • PedoBear

      Young Jenny Connelly? Pedobear approves. :D

  • Pippa

    I wouldn’t watch any even if the popcorn box had a hole in it!

  • Matteo

    That’s curious. I’m Italian, and in Italy we usually prefer his first works, from “L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo” to “Profondo rosso”, which we consider his masterpiece.

    • ParusMajor

      Yes, those first 3-4 gialli are brilliant. “Quattro mosche di velluto grigio” was very hard to get for a long time, though, I think I saw it for the first time on a VHS tape that an Italian friend of mine had recorded from an Italian TV broadcast. :) I prefer “Suspiria”, “Inferno”, “Phenomena”, “Opera” and the other later films, though, because they weren’t copycat Hitchcock films anymore, they were most definitely Dario Argento films.

      • ParusMajor

        Hitch c o c k :D :D :D

  • Allen

    Glad I am not the only one that has never heard of him or his movies.

    • ParusMajor

      You shouldn’t be glad about that, you should hide your head in shame.

  • New superstar

    I like thrillers, horrors but never heard of the movies mentioned let along that dude Dario or something…..though the only one thing familiar thats Asia Argento…

    • ParusMajor

      Asia Argento is Dario’s daughter.

  • skywatcher

    I am really surprised that more Listversers aren’t familiar with Argento’s work. Some of our regular posters are practically experts in the field of horror. How can they have missed Argento?

    Anyway, since we’ve featured one Master of Horror, we may as well have lists on some other not-so-well known practicioners of the form. There are lots to choose from.

    • ParusMajor

      Yes. What about Pupi Avati, Mario Bava, Coffin Joe, Lucio Fulci or Jean Rollin?

    • Canadianguy

      They might have heard of Demons and Demons 2, two zombie movies which he co-wrote and produced.

      • ParusMajor

        Those (Demons 1 and 2) were directed by the son of Mario Bava, Lamberto Bava. Actually, in Demons 2 the “demons” ( or zombies, whatever they are) start coming out of tv sets of people. Demons 2 was made in 1986. Ringu (aka The Ring) was made in 1998.

        If you don’t know who Mario Bava was (not you, Canadianguy, people in general); well, he was the guy from whose film Black Sabbath (the band) took their name and from whose 1971 film “Ecologia del Delitto” (aka Bay of Blood, Twitch of the Death Nerve, and several other names) Sean Cunningham and Steve Miner “borrowed” most of those “creative” murders for the first 2 or 3 Friday the 13th films.

  • Reblogged this on LetsGoWithG.

  • dime79

    Great list! I’ll have to check some of these out. I love Argento! I have only seen “Deep Red” and “Opera”, also a more recent Argento film “Do you like Hitchcock?” which was very good, even my girlfriend liked that one and she hates horror films!

  • chrissywissy

    Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso) is definitely his best film. I rank it up there with anything I’ve seen.

  • ParusMajor

    I love Dario Argento. When I saw “Suspiria” for the first time it just blew me away. All the visual eye candy as well as the incredible soundtrack by Goblin and the inventive murders… I became a fan right away, just because of this one film. Then I saw his other films like “Tenebrae”, “Inferno”, “Phenomena” (btw, don’t watch the US version called “Creepers”, 20+ minutes of footage is missing from that), “Profondo rosso” (aka Deep red), “Opera”, “L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo”, etc. This guy’s films are all either good, great, or absolutely awesome, with the possible exception of a nondescript version of “The Phantom of the Opera” in 1998. If you call yourself a horror film fan, but don’t know who Dario Argento is, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Oh, and thanks for the list, Astrid. There was nothing new to me on it, but it’s always good to know there are Argento fans out there somewhere. :D

  • ParusMajor

    That “Sleepless” trailer isn’t from Dario Argento’s “Sleepless” (aka “Non ho sonno”), it’s from some other film entirely, some Italian comedy. This is the real trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8V1m-uwBOM

    • fendabenda

      That trailer at #2 is from a comedy called “Sleepless” directed by Maddalena De Panfilis. I’ve seen it, it’s quite funny, but it’s definitely a different film than Dario Argento’s thriller “Non ho sonno”, also called “Sleepless” somewhere in the English speaking world. Jamie or some other mod, please change that trailer, that’s a wrong movie right there. Parus Major has the correct trailer but it’s in Italian, this one has subtitles in English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPFz-LV6l6U

  • Jack

    i fell asleep on the 4th one on the list, why the boring list!! ugh….

    • ParusMajor

      Well, go back to your “Bold and the Beautiful” and “Young and the Restless”. You obviously cannot stay awake when something better is on.

  • seanx40

    Suspiria seventh? Really?

    • ParusMajor

      Dude, please. Don’t complain about which of Dario Argento’s films is se7enth and which is third. They’re all good. Be glad that there actually IS a list of Argento films at Listverse. Finally. :D

      • Stevie

        Wrong. Useless list, that should never have been written. Suspiria at 7 proves whoever wrote this is an idiot and should never have bothered.
        If you don`t know who Dario is and have never seen his movies, then your a putz.

        • ParusMajor

          OK. You are too angry for no reason, Stevie. If I had made a Dario Argento list, I would have made it like this:

          1. Suspiria
          2. Profondo rosso
          3. Tenebre
          4. L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo
          5. Phenomena
          6. Opera
          7. Quattro mosche di velluto grigio
          8. Inferno
          9. Demons (not directed by him, only produced by him)
          10.Non ho sonno (aka Sleepless, this one has a great soundtrack by Goblin)

  • If there is one thing I dislike it’s horror movies…oh…and the 70’s. Dont think I will be heading to netflix anytime soon…

    • FlatEric

      You dislike horror movies AND the 70’s? So sad, you’re missing all the fun… :(

  • Meka

    Nobody ever hear of Demons? Wow, I’m appalled it’s not on this list. That movie is 80s Italian B movie horror at its finest! It features Billy Idol and Mötley Crüe and a demon that looks JUST like Rick James…. Delighted by the gore this movie never fails to entertain me or my guests! Forget all the other movies on this list and check out Argento’s Demons.

    • ParusMajor

      Possibly Demons isn’t on this list, because it wasn’t directected by Dario Argento, it was directed by Lamberto Bava. It was produced by Dario Argento, though. I agree that it’s a fun, gory 80’s B-horror with a great soundtrack. :)

      • ParusMajor

        …directectectectectectected… :D

  • R2K

    Gonna be a little critical here. To make a list about Dario Argento and have Suspiria as number 6 seems crazy to me. Dario Argento made films in an Italian sub-genre of horror called Giallo. As you could probably piece together from this article, giallo films are kind of a mixture between horror movies and detective procedurals. Argento’s movies are often surreal, violent, and often times extraordinarily cheesy.

    The one time Argento kind of rose above himself is with the film Suspiria. It is in my humble estimation, one of the top 10 horror films ever made. The colors, the pacing, cinematography, and oh that score by Goblin. A truly memorable score. If you see any movie on this list, see Suspiria.

    That being said, several of the other movies on this list are fun and worth watching. A few things of note. Argento directed a fim in 1985 called Phenomena starring a young Jennifer Connelly. In 2009 Argento shot a film entitled Giallo and it starred Adrien Brody. The star was promise roughly 400,000 dollars for his role. Upon completion of the film, Brody was never paid. He tried to sue Argento, but seeing as Argento lives in Italy and Brody is of course American, there was not much he could do. Argento pulled a fast one and got away with it. Kind of strange.

    One last criticism of the article is that it’s possible to write a synopsis of each movie without including spoilers and in many cases, relaying the entire plot. Just a thought.

    • Davie

      Such a big reply for someone who confuses 6 with 7.

  • CateTona

    Only watched Suspiria 2 years ago. Never heard nor watched his other films. Maybe it’s time to do that.

  • PietroLinnea

    #2 is a trailer from wrong film, that’s the trailer from the comedy directed by Maddalena De Panfilis called “Sleepless”, not the Dario Argento thriller, also called “Sleepless”. I think someone already mentioned this, but I’ll say it again.

  • fendabenda

    Spoiler Warning! If you haven’t seen these films yet, but would like to watch them in the future, please don’t read this list (apart from the titles of the films.) The author reveals the entire plot of every film.

  • leroy

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  • simonpetersen826

    Interesting post, mate – I love Argento’s work! Weird order, though – most people would rank Deep Red or Suspiria at number one, I’d have thought.