Review

Review

Alan Jones Explores 'Dario Argento: The Man, the Myths & the Magic'

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FAB Press has triumphantly cornered a niche market when it comes to books on genre filmmaking, but their Italian horror library is truly outstanding. Stephen Thrower's Beyond Terror is the definitive title on godfather of gore Lucio Fulci, and Troy Howarth's The Haunted World of Mario Bava is really only second (albeit a distant second) to the famed Tim Lucas title, All the Colors of the Dark. And then there's Dario Argento. The company's Art of Darkness by Chris Gallant joins Maitland McDonagh's Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds (newly republished by Univ Of Minnesota Press) as two of the authoritative Argento bibles, delivering an in-depth academic analysis of the Italian Hitchcock.

Alan Jones'
Profondo Argento completes the trinity, focusing on a historical, behind-the-scenes look at the celebrated director's unique methodology. The company has reissued Jones' book with a brand new title to match. Dario Argento: The Man, the Myths & the Magic will become available in October — fully updated and with new chapters, never-before-seen photos, rare artwork, stills, and a wealth of specially produced material and interviews exclusively compiled for the lengthy, hardcover book.

A look at Dario Argento also proves that Fab Press has cornered a collector's market. Their cult tomes are attractively illustrated and rich with fascinating material — beautiful editions that eventually become worth three, four, and five times the price fans paid for them upon first imprint. Jones' updated title follows suit, and his well-documented relationship with Argento works in our favor. We are treated to a number of images from Jones' personal collection that provides an alternative and intimate timeline of the maestro's works.

Most people will know Jones' name as one of the co-creators of Film4 FrightFest in the UK — a premier genre festival that recently hosted Total Film's Icon Interview with Argento (the filmmaker's first UK interview in 15 years). Jones has written and reported for a number of international websites and magazines, and began his journalistic career fueled by a love — and admitted obsession — for Argento's films, sparked by a viewing of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage in 1971. Since then he's been embraced by the Italian horror legend and his family, granted firsthand access to the director's innermost practices and elaborate film sets. An enthusiasm and passion shines through Dario Argento, but we are still aware that Jones' focus is the behind-the-scenes documentation of each films' inception and foray onto the big screen.

Each chapter features insightful interviews from Argento collaborators like Suspiria's Jessica Harper — who describes how key scenes in the Technicolor nightmare were artfully executed — and Cat o' Nine Tails screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti, whose contentious relationship with Argento was burdened by uncredited projects (Inferno and The Church amongst them), and his vocal criticisms of Argento's writing process. Profondo Argento ended with a chapter on 1996's The Stendhal Syndrome, but Dario Argento takes us straight through the director's newest, Dracula 3D, and ends with thoughts on the Suspiria remake. "It remains to be seen if today's horror audience will respond to a new Suspiria in the same way they did to the original groundbreaker… " Jones concludes.

If David Gordon Green's retelling of Argento's classic is to find any success, audiences should approach the film with the same perspective that Jones has comprehended Argento's oeuvre: deserving of its own analysis and not a mere offshoot — or "inspirational adjunct" in the case of Argento's works, when compared to Hollywood fright films. Jones continues to treat the filmmaker's canon with the seriousness, context, and passion it deserves — something that, perhaps, doesn't come without risk during the director's least lauded stage in his career, but Jones remains as honest about Argento's failings as he does about his successes. With Dario Argento, Fab Press has reintroduced one of the most penetrative titles about one of horror cinema's greatest artists.

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