suspiria

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Dario Argento

Dario Argento was born on 7 September, 1940 in Rome, Italy. The son of acclaimed film producer Salvatore Argento, Dario began his career in the movie industry as a film critic for various magazines. His love of movies led to him finding work as a screenwriter, after which he wrote several screenplays for a number of films. His most notable was Once Upon a Time in the West, directed by the legendary Sergio Leone. However, once Argento began directing his own films, his popularity soared.

His directorial debut came in the form of giallo flick The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. After achieving critical acclaim, Argento went on to direct The Cat o’ Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet; often referred to as his ‘Animal Trilogy’. After a break from the thriller/horror scene, Argento returned in 1975 with his masterpiece Deep Red. Frequently cited as the ‘best giallo ever made’, the movie is often credited as the inspiration behind many iconic horror flicks. John Carpenter has stated on many occasions that Argento’s early work is what inspired fan-favourite Halloween (1978).

Further success

Dario Argento

Following the birth of his daughter, Asia Argento, Dario continued his critical success with the spellbinding hit Suspiria (1977). He originally intended this to be the first of a trio of movies surrounding “The Three Mothers“. However, the trilogy was not complete until after the turn of the century. Inferno (1980) came first, eventually followed by Mother of Tears (2007).

The 1980’s brought us Tenebrae (1982) and Phenomena (1985), after which, Argento took a break from directing. He wrote the screenplays for Lamberto Bava‘s Demons (Demoni) and its sequel before getting back into the director’s chair for his next movie Opera. The ill-fated flick was ravaged by real-life misfortunes, which Argento suspected were caused by the supposed “curse” of the Shakespearean play. The initial lead in the movie, Vanessa Redgrave, quit the project, Argento’s long-time girlfriend and collaborator ended their relationship, and his father, Salvatore, passed away. There were also a number of minor accidents involving the cast and crew throughout the filming of the movie.

90’s – Present day

Dario Argento and George A. Romero

In the beginning of the 90’s, Argento teamed up with Romero once again on the two-part horror-thriller Two Evil Eyes (1990). He then went on to direct Trauma (1993), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996) and The Phantom of the Opera (1998). Following this he returned to the giallo flicks, giving us Sleepless (2001), The Card Player (2004) and Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005), as well as two gory, supernatural-themed episodes of the USA TV cable anthology series Masters of Horror (2005).

Did you know?

In 1978, Argento collaborated with George A. Romero on Dawn of the Dead, earning a producer credit and also providing soundtrack work for the zombie hit.

He is involved in a horror memorabilia store in Rome named Profondo Rosso, after his classic film Deep Red. In the cellar is a collection of his movies. The store is managed by his long-time collaborator and friend Luigi Cozzi.

He has contributed in the development of the survival horror video game Dead Space, and also in the dubbing of the Dr. Kyne character in the Italian version of the game.

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Coven Review

I think it’s safe to say that witches have undergone the biggest transformation within the horror genre. Once depicted as ugly, wart-encrusted hags, witches now tend to be portrayed as young, sultry sorceresses. Gone are the pointy hats and broomsticks, with most portrayals focusing primarily on spells, casting and divination. Margaret Malandruccolo‘s Coven is no exception.

Synopsis

Five undergrad witches come together in order to perform a ritual to invoke the ancient powers of the witch Ashura. The leader of the coven gets carried away and accidentally kills one of the witches during the ritual. She needs the strength of a complete coven to invoke Ashura’s powers and sends them out to find a final witch. As she absorbs power, the surviving girls plot to take her down. But the possessed witch unleashes hell on campus with only one young witch left to stop her.

Cited as ‘The Craft meets Suspiria’, Coven certainly shows its influences throughout the movie. However, whilst there are a number of similarities, Malandruccolo adds her own unique take on the genre with spellbinding results. Writer Lizze Gordon also plays the lead role of Sophie, a novice witch trying to contact her deceased mother. Her first encounter with the coven isn’t a pleasant one (involving a magical altercation with an apparition of a snake for good measure) However, feeling that the witches are her only chance of bringing her mother back, she reluctantly agrees to help them invoke Ashura’s power.

With a great supporting cast consisting of Margot Major, Sofya Skya, Jocelyn Saenz, Jennifer Cipolla, Miranda O’Hare and Adam Horner, Coven is a really good movie. With such a low budget there’s some GREAT special effects and, unlike some indie flicks, it isn’t confined to just a few locations. My only issue was the blatant continuity error that occurs just short of the half hour mark. That, coupled with the odd audio blip here and there, is the only reminder that you’re watching an indie movie. Everything else was fantastic.

Summary

If you’re a fan of The Craft, Suspiria and other witchy movies then Coven is definitely one to check out. It’s due to be released on digital and DVD on July 14. Until then, here’s the trailer to enchant you.

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