31 July 2007

Dario Argento Returns For "Midnight Madness"

Great news today for fans of one of the horror genre's true visionaries: Dario Argento, the Italian master of trippy, gore-soaked fantasias, will premiere his long-awaited"Mother Of Tears" (La Terza Madre) as part of the Midnight Madness program at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival.

This is the conclusion of his "Three Mothers" trilogy that began in 1977 with "Suspiria" and was left hanging after the botched release of 1980's thematic followup "Inferno". In "Mother", archaeology student Sarah (portrayed by Asia Argento--yes, his daughter) releases the demonic forces of a powerful witch which erupt into a wave of suicide and crime in advance of her resurrection.
The film also stars European genre vet Udo Kier (Andy Warhol's "Frankenstein", and recently, in Rob Zombie's faux "Grindhouse" trailer "Werewolf Women Of The S.S.") and Daria Nicolodi, Dario's ex-wife (and Asia's mother), who appeared in his earlier films and in Asia's directorial debut "Scarlett Diva".
In the early years of the Midnight Madness program Argento was a staple: his "Opera", "Trauma", and "The Stendhal Syndrome" screened at the original Bloor Cinema venue, and the thrillers he produced for Michel Soavi ("The Church", "The Sect") debuted there, too. For years, Argento's films were butchered by American distributors and spottily released under crappy titles and lousy ad campaigns.
In recent years, Argento has kept a low profile, but has worked steadily--last year's TV movie "Do You Like Hitchcock?" was a return to his giallo roots, as was the Michael Mann-esque police procedural "The Card Player". He also found time to venture to Canadian shores to shoot two episodes in Vancouver for Mick Garris' "Masters Of Horror" series: "Jenifer" and "Pelts".
Argento will also be a guest at Rue Morgue's "Festival Of Fear" this coming August.
It'll mark a reunion between Argento and fellow guest George A. Romero, who together produced the original "Dawn Of The Dead" and co-directed the underrated Edgar Allan Poe tribute "Two Evil Eyes". Romero has a film in the Midnight Madness program this year, too: "Diary Of The Dead", the official fourth installment in his zombie saga that began with 1968's "Night Of The Living Dead".
Argento's films aren't always perfect--narrative "logic" isn't a concern and he seems to delight in deliberately polarizing and frustrating the audience--but each is always gorgeously designed and a feast for the senses, and ala works of Hitchcock or DePalma, manage to feature at least one extended set piece that's a marvel of timing and intensity.
Here's a list of the entire "Midnight Madness" lineup. Argento, plus Romero, plus Stuart Gordon, plus Takashi Miike? September can't come quick enough...