Archive for the Deep Red Category

Smokes and Red Bull and Cherry Coke and Cronuts

Posted in Creepers, Deep Red, douchebag, movie marathon, Phenomena, Profondo Rosso, ramblings of a loser, Suspiria, Tenebrae, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O' Nine Tails, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2017 by efcontentment

It was a Friday night, not my preferred night for a movie all-nighter because, you know, work and all that that entails: a long night preceded by a long day, making it harder to get through both. But hey, that’s when they scheduled it and if I really had a problem with it I wouldn’t have bought the ticket — which is why I didn’t buy a ticket. But then I was given one by a friendly party who had to cancel at the next-to-last minute. Hooray for girlfriends who cancel on friends!

Ticket to what, you ask? The Dario Argento All Nighter at the New Beverly Cinema: six of the Italian horror maestro’s films, the titles remaining secret to the audience until they are projected onto the screen.

It was a packed house, and because we got there later than my preferred arrival time, I ended up sitting between two individuals — in front and behind me — who were Down With The Sickness based on their all-night non-stop wet phlegm-hacking coughs (one would later use his empty cup to dispense of his inner slime wads). It made for an even more tense night than expected because I didn’t have Emergen-C or a face mask with me. I was unarmed and afraid, having already gone through The Sickness a couple weeks earlier. And now I was stuck between these two jokers. Would I be Down again?

I don’t know what the refund policy is with the New Bev and/or Brown Paper Tickets (who sold the online-only tickets to this event), but assuming it’s Too Late Jack, I would still think that when it comes to being sick on Show Day, perhaps it’s better to go Needs Of The Many over Needs Of The Few — in this case, the few who felt it was more important to share The HIV with the rest of the audience, rather than just stay home. Throughout the night, my mind would suddenly make unwelcome detours into the scene from Outbreak where one of the infected coughs up Death Germs in a movie theater.

There were foreign posters on the wall and lobby cards in the, uh, lobby for Argento’s films throughout the night and the selection would circulate; where a poster for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was placed early in the evening, there would be lobby cards for Tenebrae later. These were supplied by a gentleman I only heard referred to as “Rich” during the introduction. There was also a laserdisc jacket for the Dario Argento’s World of Horror documentary placed near the door to the ticket booth, but I don’t know who that belonged to.

Speaking of which, around 7:30pm, Phil Blankenship came up front with a lady whose name I don’t know, but she was wearing a cap and had been working the concession stand earlier. Because I was sitting between Dolby Stereo Cough-Cough, the best I could make out was that the films and trailers were selected by both Phil and New Bev owner Quentin Tarantino, and the lady then said something about Phil being “humble” in what I assume was him downplaying his contribution to the evening.

Phil then told us that anything we liked were his choices, to which we laughed and perhaps some of us (one of us) wondered how much of that was a joke and how much of that was how he really felt about Mr. T’s choices; later he mentioned the $4 coffee cups being sold that were good for all-night refills, adding that “you’re going to want to stay caffeinated for some of these”. He then asked us not to be inconsiderate with the chatting and phone-using; he felt that those actions were “lame” and not something the “cool” audience would/should do.

The lady then told us that the prints were mostly 35mm but at least one was a 16mm print, then quoted/paraphrased Quentin by saying that some of these prints had been “enjoyed immensely a lot of times by a lot of audiences” which I believe was her way of saying that these weren’t exactly going to be sparkling DCPs — which is fine by me, that’s part of the fun of watching old prints.

The night’s entertainment began with trailers for two Westerns co-written by Argento; The Five Man Army (starring Peter Graves) and Once Upon a Time in the West (not starring Peter Graves). Then the first movie of the evening: 1970’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (or as it was called in this print, The Phantom of Terror).

Uncle Pete from The Pope of Greenwich Village plays an American in Rome who witnesses a woman inside an art gallery getting a little of the ol’ in-out knife-style, and tries to save her by getting stuck between two glass doors because that’s gonna help, I’m sure. He finds an old man staring at the two of them impassively, which is either Argento’s way of heightening the horror by adding helplessness via neutral observation, or it’s just the first of many examples throughout the night that Mr. Argento isn’t really that interested in acting as much as he is interested in camera and editing.

But c’mon, honey, I say to myself — nobody watches a Dario Argento flick for the great acting. They go to get creeped out and see black-gloved mystery peeps stalking and killing women, as in the case of this film. And also to see everyone else give non-reactions to otherwise crazy stuff. I mean, maybe in the Argento-verse, your reaction to having a hatchet miss you by thismuch in the middle of morning fog would be to just shrug it off and casually mention it to your hot girlfriend later on before going in on some Netflix And Chill Minus The Netflix, but not in my ‘verse; for one, I don’t even have a girlfriend, let alone a hot one — and yet I’ve had people try to chop my head off many times.

So yeah, there’s a serial killer taking pictures of potential victims, followed by fulfilling their potential with a little stabby slash slash. Uncle Pete, like most early Argento film protagonists, becomes obsessed with solving this case despite there being qualified individuals known as Detectives who do this sort of thing for a living. Along the way, Uncle Pete runs into fruity antique dealers and stuttering pimps, the latter of which made me wonder if R. Kelly had seen this film before; his last run of “Trapped in the Closet” featured a stuttering pimp named Lucius played by Mr. Kelly in an attempt to become like the Eddie Murphy of R&B singers who like to pee on underage girls.

This seems to be considered one of Argento’s best, which is interesting because this is also one of his tamest; it’s not a particularly gory film, at least not this print, but I don’t remember this movie ever having much in the blood department to begin with. And while the movie has plenty of well-composed shots (by Vittorio Storaro), save for one trick, Dario hadn’t started dosing his cameras yet. But it is very Argento in that it’s a good movie.

Before the second film, we saw an old Pepsi Challenge ad, followed by trailers for Last Stop on the Night Train (aka Night Train Murders and like 20 other titles) and Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (aka Blazing Magnum and like 30 other titles), then it was 1971’s The Cat O’ Nine Tails, starring Karl Malden and James Franciscus.

The reddish print looked like it might’ve been the 16mm one mentioned earlier, and when Ennio Morricone’s score played, it sounded like the Maestro was trying something new by having his music performed by the Royal Underwater Orchestra. But then the movie stopped playing and everything went dark, and suddenly we were all sitting in a black void filled with the sounds of OHHHH! and AHHHH! and WHAAAA?

Then a voice entered the void, telling us that they were going to fix the problem with the sound. A minute later, the film came back on and everything now sounded non-gargley. The film appeared to have a narrower aspect ratio than 2.35:1, like on some Hateful Eight shit, or maybe it was just my eyes. Hell, at least I can see, unlike Malden’s character who lost his sight years ago. Now he has to do the sunglasses and cane combo, his only companion a little girl because I guess it’s cheaper than a seeing eye dog.

I guess Argento wasn’t having the American-in-Italy thing with this one; instead, our Yank protagonists are named Carlo Giordani and Franco Arno, giving us something not unlike an Arnold Schwarzenegger character, who despite his heavy Austrian accent was playing guys named John Kimble and Ben Richards. Anyway, Franco overhears some dude talking in his car about blackmail, and a couple days later his seeing eye girl reads to him from the newspaper that the same dude did a header onto a oncoming train — which is pretty awesome, I have to admit; there’s a slow-mo close-up as the front of the train straight-on BOOOOOOSHs this poor man’s head, followed by a wide shot of his dummy body going all spinny spin down the platform while his Italian loafers go flying off his feet. In real life, that would horrify me, but in a movie that shit is comedy, bro.

Franco goes to the reporter covering this, Carlo, and soon they are both doing the detective thing and it involves shady shadiness at some medical institute. In between them looking at photos and breaking into crypts, you get a couple strangulations and a slashing. Again, like the previous film, this one doesn’t really get too bloody, but there’s quite a bit of drool during one killing, if that’s what you’re looking for to cover the bodily fluid angle.

Another thing I noticed appears to be Dario’s fascination with alternative lifestyles, namely trans and gays or both. In Crystal Plumage, there’s a scene where a police lineup is made up of “perverts” but among them is a transvestite named Ursula Andress. The lead detective then yells out something like “I told you, Ursula belongs with the transvestites, not the perverts” which I’d like to think was kind of a progressive judgment call from Argento, kinda like he’s saying “Just because this dude identifies as a woman doesn’t mean she’s a pervert” but who knows, he could be all Italian macho about them, like “Eyyyy it’s-a just-a another category of-a sick-a people!”

And in this film, one of the characters turns out to be gay, and considering this was made in 1971, his representation could’ve been a lot worse. Even the gay bar he hangs out in isn’t some kind of Cruising-style fist-tacular, it’s just a bunch of dudes hanging out listening to sad trumpet music with slightly happier piano accompaniment. The worst you get is some dude with a few too many buttons left unbuttoned on his shirt, exposing his hairy chest. Nothing against that, I mean, I’d wear my shirts like that too were it not for the obvious farmer’s tan I’d expose, making me look like a White dude who got a head transplant from some Mexican that nobody will ever miss BECAUSE HERE IN TRUMP COUNTRY WE GRAB FRESH BEANERS BY THE PUSSY, FAGGOT

This one is less of a thriller and more of a straight-up mystery and it’s well made and all, but I gotta be honest with you, lady and gentleman, this was my first time watching Cat O’ Nine Tails and it got a little tiring for me. It’s nearly two hours long and for extended stretches — like 90 percent of the film — I forgot I was watching a Dario Argento film. You could’ve replaced his director credit with Massimo Dallamano or maybe even Alberto De Martino and you could’ve convinced me it was one of their movies. It’s my understanding that this is Argento’s least favorite film of his, and I’m not going to argue that with him — but I haven’t seen Dracula 3D either, so maybe I would?

It has its moments (especially in the last half hour or so — also there’s an insert of a pocket watch that looks damn near like the insert of the pocket watch in Pulp Fiction, just wanted to point that out), but occasionally I was tempted to rest my eyes and let my ears pick up the slack (I did naaaaht, though). Was it the movie’s fault? Or maybe it was the effects of a long day getting to me at that point? I don’t know but what I do know is that the third film of the night felt like getting a bump of some of Bolivian’s finest following the warm glass of milk that was this film.

And what was, in fact, the third film, the one that played after the trailers for Twisted Nerve and Blow-Up? Why, it was the 1975 joint Deep Red (better Italian title: Profondo Rosso), which upon the title being revealed had the audience applauding up a storm, the loudest yet. Maybe they were just happy that we didn’t get another early work like Four Flies on Grey Velvet or worse, his non-horror non-giallo joint, The Five Days of Milan — because let’s be real, I can totally see Quentin doing something like that, regardless of what time it was or how tired we were.

The film stars David Hemmings as a pianist who witnesses his psychic neighbor getting terminated with extreme psychic-hating prejudice by a hatchet-loving killer, so obviously he becomes obsessed with figuring out Who and Why because that’s how Argento protagonists do in these joints. He’s joined by a reporter played by Daria Nicolodi, and the only thing more awesome than her character is the interactions between her character and Hemmings’sesesss.

There’s a scene that had quite a few women in the audience cheering, as well as men who would love the touch of a female (like me), where Nicolodi responds to Hemmings’ skepticism over women’s strength with an arm wrestling challenge. I loved that scene, and I remember there being a few more like that in the full uncut version that runs over two hours, but what we watched that night was the “export version” which is about 20 minutes shorter.

As much as I like those extra scenes between them in the longer version and as much as I’d love to imagine that in an alternate universe there exists a series of films with their characters solving mysteries, I actually prefer this shorter version and I’m glad that’s the one we watched that night. It moves like a freight train carrying boxcars of plot, whereas the longer cut has more of a hangout vibe to it — and we certainly had enough hanging out with the previous two films.

So I guess around this time began the real life couple-ship of Nicolodi and Argento, because from here on, she would show up in his films or co-write them, but whatever the case I’m thinking that it can’t be a coincidence that once Daria came on the scene, Dario upped his freak-out game in his movies. It shows, man, it shows, not just in the storytelling getting more and more out there but his filmmaking was also going up some notches. Deep Red is when he really started going “You know what? I’m not dollying and crane-ing this camera enough, I mean, they have wheels and levers and shit for these things, I might as well start using them!” It could also be a budget thing, but I also think something about this lady brought something out of this man.

He also dropped Ennio Morricone for Goblin or The Goblins or whatever the fuck name they go by, and the music scores in this film and his following ones became less traditional and more Fucking Awesome. The coughing gentleman in front of me and his uninfected friend started rocking out to some of the tunes at this point, bobbing their heads to the point that I almost expected home-cough to raise his hands and go “YASSS DIS MY JAAAM!”

By the way, I’m not dissing Morricone here. Don’t get it twisted, friend, he’s my favorite composer and he did good work in the previous films. But Goblin and Argento go together like transgenders and fucked-up characters in Dario Argento flicks.

Yeah, he continues the trans tradition here, with a minor character popping up wearing makeup and a girly bathrobe and an Adams Apple, and had the Internet existed back then they would probably be breaking Dario’s balls about this stuff the way we break Tarantino’s balls about his thing for bare feet — or we’d give Argento shit for his thing for drooling victims because I think there are two cases of that in this movie. Maybe it was his way of making stuff more violent without boring us on the red stuff. Maybe this was Argento’s drool period or something.

The kill game gets upped here as well, because the blood really starts to flow and now the killer is doling out death with a hatchet, hot water, and corners of tables and shelves. There are also other creative kills involving otherwise innocent everyday things that are only an unfortunate schmuck away from getting caught up in it and dying the hard way. There’s also a freaky doll that pops up at one point, and I felt bad for the few people sitting near the front who got temporary vision impairment when a guy decided to pick that moment to return to his seat, meaning they were treated to a far more frightening sight — his big ass in their faces.

This was the halfway point, and those who stuck around (nearly everybody) after this third film got a sweet treat courtesy of some sweet treats from a bakery or donut shop or something, I can’t remember the place. Doughnuts, ham & cheese croissants, and cronuts were brought to the stage and anybody who wanted one got one. In the end, there were still croissants available for anyone who wanted them. I usually stay away from them during all-nighters to keep from sugar-crashing, but I was in What The Hell mode and grabbed a cronut.

Trailers for the Argento-edited European print of Dawn of the Dead (known to these universal health care-having motherfuckers as Zombie: Dawn of the Dead) and the U.S. edit of The Beyond (titled 7 Doors of Death) came up next. The trailer for the latter gives away nearly every character’s fate and included praise blurbs from Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel that were made humorous by the announcer replacing some of the on-screen quotes with different words and mispronouncing the names. After that we had the fourth film, Suspiria — which drew even louder applause than the previous film.

At this point, Argento was well into dipping his quills into the crazy ink, and I bet you it was co-writer Nicolodi who was hooking him up with said ink. There’s a lot of Just Because in this movie, starting with the narration that begins over the opening credits pretty much telling you everything about the main character’s trip to Germany except what they served on the flight, and then it just trails off, fading away and never returning for the rest of them film just because. I mean most of this film is going to leave you begging for that narrator to return to help you understand Why anything happens, but Dario Argento has no time for your needs — unless your need is to get fully owned by Pure Goddamn Cinema.

So you have the lovely Jessica Harper — all wide-eyed innocence — headed for a ballet school, and the poor girl already has to deal with assholes as early as the arrival gate at the airport. Taxi cabs are just whizzing past her in the hard rain, and when she finally gets a driver he pulls that shit Euros do to filthy Muricans by pretending they have a comprehension problem with your simplest request. But my girl Harper, she’s smart — she has the name of the school written down on a piece of paper which she plasters onto the glass divider all like HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES? and now he has no choice but to take her there.

See, this is why Uber is fucking your shit up, cabbies.

I have to give credit to Harper’s character for immediately feeling uneasy upon unpacking once she’s at the school. Everybody is acting strange or doing that really asshole move of what I call “passive-aggressive friendly antagonism”, but I think she kinda shrugs it off at first because she figures “Hey, this is Germany” and that’s how the Deutschlanders get down. At least she doesn’t try to tell a joke, like I did there once — ONCE — because there leads the path to heartbreak and embarrassment. Humor? No. Beer? Hell yes.

But things are even weirder than she should accept, because she hasn’t even spent one full day there and she’s already getting the vapors during practice and passing out. That was either because some lady flashed her a glowing triangle blade thingy five minutes earlier (that scene looks beautiful, by the way) and that put her whole system on tilt, or because she’s wearing borrowed ballet shoes and they’re probably two sizes too small for her. Cuts off the blood circulation, I think. Or maybe she’s like me and finds the idea of wearing someone else’s worn dancing shoes kinda gross. Fuck that shit, you give me that as my only choice and I’m hittin’ the floor sans footwear like my man John McClane.

Immediately, the town doctor is telling her she has to eat bland and down red wine every meal because red wine is good for the blood. Red wine is good for everything, bro. I feel I’m letting myself down by not having a glass or two everyday.

I’m not going to go too much into plot because there isn’t that much plot, to be real with you. Also, what there is is best discovered on your own. Then again, the soundtrack is literally telling you with voices going WITCH WITCH WITCH, so there’s your road map, honey. I’ll just bring up a couple things that stood out that aren’t intense violent kill scenes (honestly, I think Argento literally and figuratively shot his wad with the murders during the first 15 minutes).

Some poor servant at the school has some big white chompers on him; turns out they’re fakes he got after gingivitis had their way with his former gum partners. He’s so proud of them and I would be too, if I were Gary Busey. You know what? That wasn’t nice, and I shouldn’t judge. Considering that my own sugar-to-brushing ratio is wrongly one-sided, and the upcoming dental work I’m having done, I’m sure I will eventually eat those words with teeth bigger than either of those guys.

Also, Udo Kier shows up looking young (which he was) and sounding American (which he’s not) and that was cool to see.

What was kind of not cool was that the print of Suspiria we watched was the edited R-rated cut. It didn’t really hurt the film though, it’s missing a couple shots here and there and that kind of threw me off to not see what I had seen before. And sometimes the sound/music would suddenly skip as a result of the trims, which kinda added to the off-feeling of this nightmarish film. So that’s kind of the unintentional bonus of such edits — or I just know how to make some bomb-ass lemonade out of these lemons.

And besides — the print was beautiful! I’m sure you already know the story of how this was one of the last films printed (not shot) using the three-strip Technicolor process, really making the colors pop on this movie — which combined with the already color-saturated lighting and production design makes for the tastiest kind of candy overkill. But if you didn’t know, I just told you. It also sounded as intense as it looked, with the volume turned all the way up to wake up even the sleepiest in the audience — or at least drown out the sounds of the snoring (which if there was, I didn’t hear at all. At least not where I was, sitting in the eye of the germ storm.)

Following the break, they showed us trailers for Dressed to Kill and Inferno (the Argento film, not the Forrest Gump & Jyn Erso buddy film). I had only seen Inferno once, and I had forgotten there was a scene involving someone getting attacked by cats and it made the audience laugh. It reminded me of a similar scene in an SCTV sketch that involved John Candy getting cat-tacked, and I wonder if the SCTV guys saw this movie or if it was just a coincidence (given the film and SCTV were around at the same time).

The fifth film immediately had the audience do the boisterous applause cheer thing because the first thing we saw was the title printed on a book: Tenebrae (or Tenebre, depending on which of the Berenstein/Berenstain alternate universes you live in). This was the second time I watched Tenebrae on the big screen; the first time was right here at the New Beverly Cinema during the third All Night Horror Show, back in 2010. I’m going to take the easy way out and kill myself post an excerpt from that blog post (which you can read in its entirety here, if you want):


In a rare departure for Argento, this film features scenes of people dying harsh deaths at the hands of a killer wearing black leather gloves; someone is killing people in Italy and sending letters to mystery writer Peter Neal (who’s there promoting his new book), informing him that he will be the last to go, because they’re all filthy slimy perverts and he’s the corruptor or some shit like that. But never mind that, let’s talk about the best character in the entire movie — let’s talk about that awesome fuckin’ Doberman.


There’s a scene where this cute jailbait chick (I can say that because I’m sure the actress was above legal age — I hope, otherwise Chris Hansen’s gonna walk in and ask me to take a seat over there) is walking home and she gets a little too close to a fence. RAWR RAWR RAWR goes the guard dog Doberman, and rather than keep walking, Cute Jailbait Girl picks up a stick and starts banging it against the fence. What the fuck, Lolita? That dog is just telling you to stay away, fool (’cause love rules, at the do-oo-og shack) and you gotta get all indignant on homedog? He’s just doing the job he was hired to do; he’s a blue collar dog trying to put Alpo on his litter’s table. Oh, you sure showed him.


Well, this dog, he’s not having it, he jumps the fence and runs after her — what’s up now, bitch? At one point, she climbs over a tall fence and you figure that’s the end of the line for the Doberman. Nah man, this dog, he walks up to the fence, looks it over, does the calculations in his dog brain, backs up a couple yards, runs and fuckin’ parkours that goddamn fence. This dog rules. Even when she hides inside the killer’s Underground Room of Murder Planning, that dog still manages to find a way to get to a window(!) to show her that he hasn’t given up. The Doberman can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, remorse, or fear and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are bitten numerous times. That’s what he does, that’s all he does!


The actor who plays Peter Neal had this slightly George Takei-esque way of pronunciation that I’m going to probably mimic for the next few days in everyday life. What else, oh yeah, pretty much all the women in this film are attractive in a They Probably Don’t Shave kinda way, even this flashback sequence chick who’s pretty hot for having a dick and balls in real life. The title more or less translates as Darkness, so naturally Argento had his cinematographer blast everything with bright light, thinking he was trying out some daring shit but ultimately giving the proceedings a look reminiscent of low-budget Mexican genre films.


The camerawork is still aces, though, especially that There’s-No-Reason-To-Do-It-This-Way-Except-That-It’s-So-Fucking-Cool shot where the camera starts at one end of a house, goes over the roof, then ends up on the other side; Johnny La Rue would’ve killed for that kind of crane shot. This is one of my favorite Argento flicks, the print looked great (it came from Australia) and I’m pretty sure nothing was missing since this wasn’t the U.S. “Unsane” edit of the movie.

I’m going to add a couple new things here. I’m still going on with my Argento-fascinated-by-alternative-lifestyles deal, so here we go; at one point in the film, an interviewer brings up how Neal’s latest book displays a point-of-view on how “deviant behavior” affects our lives, pointing out that one of the “deviants” is gay, which Neal immediately responds with something to the effect of “the character is gay, but he’s portrayed as being perfectly happy” and that it doesn’t make him a deviant.

It’s like Argento is saying that sometimes how we perceive art doesn’t mean that’s how the artist intended it to be perceived. We bring our own beliefs and baggage to it, and yet we’ll condemn the artist for something he or she never thought. So, one can see an Argento film and the women being killed in them as being the product of a misogynistic mind, or one sees the appearance of a gay character in his films as being some kind of judgment call on that particular lifestyle. Doesn’t necessarily mean that, though.

Kinda like how I’m seeing all these trans and gay people pop up in his films and I’m thinking more like, maybe he’s just intrigued by it. Or maybe he’s disgusted by it. Or maybe he’s turned on by it. Who knows but the man himself (and maybe his loved ones)? I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore, I’ve been writing this all night, I have to get ready for work in an hour, and I’m so goddamn tired. I just want to post this today before the 20th, otherwise if I finish then, that means by the time I get to the bar it’s going to be packed with decent human beings getting fucked up and burying their faith in their fellow man or woman, sitting on my favorite seat and drinking up all the Maker’s Mark. Then where am I supposed to sit? What am I supposed to drink? Which girl am I going to drunkenly wink at before the inevitable drink-in-face? FUCK THAT SHIT ESE. I’ll finish today.

After one final break, the lights came down and we saw trailers for Demons (co-written and produced by Argento) and Two Evil Eyes (directed by Argento and George A. Romero), then I decided to make a run for the restroom because the Red Bull I drank during Tenebrae was fuckin’ done with me, but as I left, I recognized the Swiss countryside and 1.66:1 aspect ratio as belonging to Phenomena — except the title card said Creepers, meaning this was the shorter U.S. cut. When I returned, the lights were back on and the screen was blank, so I’m guessing there was a technical issue. A few seconds later, the light went down and the movie came up and everything was A-OK again.

Like Tenebrae, I had seen this at the New Beverly before at the very first All Night Horror Show back in 2008. Unfortunately for lazy me, I didn’t have a blog yet back then, so I didn’t ramble about this movie or that evening. I’ll just have to ramble about the flick here.

Some girl is killed in the first five minutes, and she’s played by Dario Argento’s daughter Fiore, because Dario is on some Stuart Gordon shit by killing off loved ones in his films, I guess. Then Jennifer Connelly steps in, she’s the star, and wow, man, wow. I’m not gonna get all pervy because she was underage at the time, so I’ll just imagine that if a girl who looked like her went to my junior high school, I would definitely ask her out in my imagination while saying nothing to her in reality because being rejected sucks.

Jennifer Connelly plays Jennifer Corvino, a movie star’s daughter who is a new student at a Swiss boarding school, and the knives and claws are out for our girl because these other girls are some low self-esteem-having motherfuckers who are threatened by this beautiful newcomer. When it comes out that she’s a sleepwalker and a bug-lover (not in *that* way, you ass, she thinks of bugs the way I think of dogs and cats — they are more deserving of love than most humans), I was surprised Dario didn’t have the girls drool over this new tender spot in her soul to flick at.

By the way, that second thing of hers, the bug thing, it appears that the bugs love her back; they won’t sting or bite her and even a firefly will help her walk through a dark forest.

My most Corvino-esque moment in my youth was when I was in the first grade and during recess, some of my fellow students were gathered around the sandbox, where they had trapped a few ladybugs and were stabbing them with sticks. (Of course, they were all boys.) They were laughing and MWAHAHAHA-ing the way most of Argento’s villains laugh and MWAHA, and it really brought me down. But even back then I knew not to protest because they would then do to me what these fucking asshole Swiss boarding school students do to precious Jennifer (she’s so precious); incessantly mock her in the manner that only the heartless young (a redundancy, I know) can.

Thankfully, Precious Jennifer finds a friend in a wheelchair’d Donald Pleasence, and luckily he’s an entomologist, so they can both geek out about insects. There’s definitely a kind of grandfatherly vibe coming from him, and I liked watching their scenes together. I’ve only seen the longer Phenomena cut once back in ’99, so I can’t remember if there were more scenes between them, but the Creepers cut did leave me wanting more of that. Hell, I would’ve been fine with a movie that was just about their friendship.

But this is Dario Argento we’re talking here, baby! And if the way these films were programmed that night tells us anything, it’s that home-paisan has been getting nuttier and nuttier over the years with his stories. No way is he going to start dialing it down to something like a movie about two friends who bond over insects, no fucking way! No way Jose.

Instead, there’s someone or something out there, man, out there in the forest, and whatever it is, it sure loves getting head from schoolgirls — which is to say, he murders them and leaves behind their severed heads. Wait. Actually, my attempt at telling one of the hackiest R-rated jokes ever in the history of hacky R-rated jokes makes no sense at all. He takes the bodies, he ain’t getting head. He doesn’t want it.

Shit, maybe the Germans were right not to laugh.

I’ve heard that this is Argento’s favorite of his films; I’d have to watch the longer cut again to confirm, but what I remember from that one and what I do remember from the Creepers cut definitely makes it one of my favorites. My only quibble would be this: I like heavy metal and I like Dario Argento movies, but I was never a big fan of the both of them combined, which he does here and in Opera.

It’s a slow burner but by the end, Phenomena/Creepers goes completely off its rocker and if you’re not digging it, then you’re not digging vida, my friend. When this played at the first All Night Horror Show, it was the first film of the night and the audience loved it. They were particularly big on Inga The Chimpanzee With A Prolapsed Anus, for reasons I won’t give away, but yeah, her scenes were real crowd-pleasers. It played just as well with this audience too, who were a little more muted and slow to respond in comparison, probably because it was already around six in the morning and everybody was tired, but by the last ten minutes, everybody was up and jacked up by the cine-meth supplied by the film’s climax.

By 7:30 am, we had reached the end of the Dario Argento All Nighter.

Those of us who made it to the end (quite a few, actually) were rewarded with this coffee mug:

My girlfriend-less buddy and I then went to Little Dom’s in Los Feliz to try out their breakfast pizza, because I saw it on a rerun of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Cooking Channel. You know the Cooking Channel, right? If there’s an actor you haven’t seen in a while, he or she is probably hosting a show on that channel. Because suddenly everybody is a fucking chef now.

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