VHS Review: Dario Argento’s World of Horror

It took a great deal of searching to find a copy of this on VHS. I saw parts of it years ago on television and I knew I had to have it. This is probably one of my favorite horror documentaries next to Never Sleep Again and it discusses one of the greatest horror directors of all time, Dario Argento. Argento’s World of Horror takes us into a journey deep inside his phenomenal work from 1969 to 1985. The documentary is directed by another favorite of mine, Michele Soavi. Soavi is known for The Church and Cemetery Man. Dario Argento’s World of Horror was Soavi’s first feature where he directed a film alone. However, he had a little practice as assistant director for the films Tenebre, A Blade in the Dark, Phenomena, and Demons. There really isn’t another that could have presented a documentary on Dario Argento, as Michele Soavi had so much experience with the man.

There have been some negative reviews for this look into Argento’s work and I don’t know why. It’s a little dated, okay, but it was made in 1985! I quite enjoyed Argento talking about how he felt murder was beautiful and he dared to ask if it was wrong for thinking death was beautiful? There’s something very erotic about his death scenes, that I will have to agree on. That point of view may be very unpopular but at least he’s blunt. He even expressed that he would probably be a good murderer and around this time, people were beginning to cheer for the murderer in films. This is true! I even root for the bad guys on several occasions. We don’t want to see anymore characters killed but we also don’t want to see the bad guy/girl punished or killed. I found all of his views to be insightful. Some might find his outlook on murder to be bizarre but interesting. You also have to remember that in 1985, most of Argento’s work was heavily edited, especially Phenomena. So fans went crazy over trying to get their hands on this tape to see the footage that had been removed in his films.

I enjoyed all the technical aspects of his work including the crane shots, lighting, and colors. There’s a lot of behind the scenes footage with the insects in Phenomena. With the cameras and the cranes, he is a little insecure and worried he cannot pull off these scenes but I rather admire his work and I do believe he pulled off some incredible shots. Below is a screen shot of the crane and the shot of the house in Phenomena. Please excuse the graininess. It IS VHS!

He explained that his first three films; “The Bird With the Crystal Plummage,” “Cat O Nine Tails,” and “Four Flies On Grey Velvet” were all psychological. His reasoning is that the animal is in all of us. “The beast. The instinct which prevails in human reasoning which can be even more irresponsible than a creature’s instinct.

All of my favorite music in his films was present. This includes; “Sleepwalking,” “Suspiria,” and “Deep Red” – All performed by Goblin. Other favorites; “Phenomena” by Claudio Simonetti, “Tenebre” by Simonetti-Morante-Pigatelli, and my personal favorite “Valley” by Bill Wyman and Terry Taylor.

The subtitles are poorly written. I cannot tell you how many grammatical errors I found. There are no titles over the films they show clips from so unless you are educated in Argento’s films, you wont know which film they are talking about. This isn’t the best documentary on Dario Argento but it’s very insightful. Additional thought – I wish he completed the ‘Three Mothers trilogy in the 80s. I found Mother of Tears to be pretty unspectacular and I wonder if maybe it would have been better if he completed it years ago. I will leave you now with a couple of poor screenshots where Argento is working on Suspiria.