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Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds

The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento

Maitland McDonagh

Publication Year: 2010

Italian filmmaker Dario Argento’s horror films have been described as a blend of Alfred Hitchcock and George Romero—psychologically rich, colorful, and at times garish, excelling at taking the best elements of the splatter and exploitation genres and laying them over a dark undercurrent of human emotions and psyches. Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds, which dissects such Argento cult films as Two Evil Eyes, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Suspiria, and Deep Red, includes a new introduction discussing Argento’s most recent films, from The Stendahl Syndrome to Mother of Tears; an updated filmography; and an interview with Argento.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-7

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Introduction. Heart of Darkness: Twenty-first Century Nightmares

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pp. vii-xxvii

By 1976, I had seen plenty of Euro-thrillers, but I had never seen anything like Deep Red. It wasn't the story that stuck with me months, and then years, after I encountered it at the Victoria, a shabby, once-grand movie theater on Forty-sixth...

Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds

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pp. 1-31

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An Introduction to the Dark Dreams of Dario Argento

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pp. 3-34

A man named Flitcraft had left his real-estate office, in Tacoma, to go to luncheon one day and had never returned... here's what happened to him. Going to lunch he passed an office building that was being put up - just the skeleton. A beam or something fell eight or ten stories...

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The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

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pp. 35-57

"To reproach Hitchcock for specializing in suspense is to accuse him of being the least boring of filmmakers," wrote Francois Truffaut. His enthusiasm for the thriller in the hands of a skilful director, however, isn't universally shared. It may take a lot of nerve to deny Hitchcock's greatness, but the thriller is...

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The Cat O'Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet

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pp. 59-90

The worldwide success of The Bird With the Crystal Plumage simplified the financing of Argento's second film, whose title - The Cat O'Nine Tails - may well be the most irrelevant he ever concocted, though Four Flies on Grey Velvet provides stiff competition. The picture that was "nine times more suspenseful"...

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Le cinque giornate and Deep Red

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pp. 91-122

Argento's concern that the public may have been tiring of gialli was understandable. Film is a trendy medium, worshipping at the altar of the box office; one commercial hit inevitably spawns a slew of imitators. Italian cinema, lacking Hollywood's dense multi-studio structure and with a great deal of power...

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Suspiria and Inferno

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pp. 123-158

When a dream becomes a nightmare, the average dreamer just wants to wake up and shake off the cold grip of night terrors. But the history of horror literature is full of dreamers who carried over their nightmares to the waking hours, then committed them to paper. The three most famous examples...

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Tenebrae and Creepers

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pp. 159-196

"The mechanism of Tenebrae is like that of a mass, an ancient rite. You sacrifice yourself, and your dark aspect is crucified at the ceremony's conclusion," Argento told Starfix's Christophe Gans. "Tenebrae" means shadows, darkness; Tenebrae, a film of cold, clear light, is suffused by a darkness darker still than...

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Opera and Two Evil Eyes

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pp. 197-221

Opera - also called Terror at the Opera - is more than the subject of Argento's tenth film: it's also the key to its stylistic conceits. Beginning with Deep Red, Argento's films followed a clear arc of ever-increasing visual extravagance and stylization. Even Creepers, whose icy mise-en-scene lacked the lushness of the...

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Trauma and the Changing Face of Horror

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pp. 223-230

Argento repeatedly denied commercial motives when asked about Trauma's American cast and locations. "I make my pictures for myself, from what I see and imagine," he claimed. "I cannot make a picture for anyone but myself. That's why it seems to me so terrible when they try to censor my pictures,...

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pp. 231-234

In the final analysis films are films and dreams are dreams: noone can reasonably deny that they're the end results of different processes, with different life-spans, frames of reference, and spheres of influence. And yet there are respects in which they resemble one another, and horror films - more than any other...

An Interview with Dario Argento (circa 1985)

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pp. 235-249

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pp. 251-280

This book is adapted from my master's thesis, submitted to Columbia University in 1986. Many people helped in its preparation and without their contributions it could never have been completed. First and foremost, I extend my thanks to Gary Hertz, who provided invaluable help and encouragement...

The Films of Dario Argento

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pp. 252-280

Select Bibliography

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pp. 281-293

About the Author

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pp. 295-324

E-ISBN-13: 9780816673421
E-ISBN-10: 081667342X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816656073

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2010