Screengrabs: The Sect (1991)

Friday, 17 February 2017

These screen grabs have been taken from the 2016 Blu-Ray release of The Sect from Shameless Films.

Trussardi Action X Dario Argento

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A little known fact about Dario Argento is that in-between directing 1985's Phenomena and 1987's Opera, the Italian horror maestro took a foray into the world of fashion, directing a catwalk show for Italian fashion house, Trussardi in 1986. Fans of Argento may be already familiar with the director's long standing relationship with the fashion world. In 1985 Argento worked with legendary Italian fashion designer, Giorgio Armani on his supernatural horror Phenomena which showcased many of the designer's famed mid eighties styles. As well as his work with Armani on Phenomena, Argento's films have featured costumes, jewellery and accessories from major players in the Italian fashion industry such as Bulgari and Fendi. As I've argued many times on this very blog, fashion is an intrinsic element of Argento's films, heightening the stylised nature of his cinema and underpinning key themes throughout his work. It's hard to think of Suspiria without recalling the gauzy ethereal fashions or the stark white colour palette used in the wardrobe of Tenebrae. Therefore it should be of no real surprise that Argento would extend his talents to directing a catwalk show for a contemporary Italian fashion house.


Initially established in 1911 by Dante Trussardi, Trussardi began life as a small company manufacturing leather gloves. When Dante Trussardi died in a tragic hunting accident in 1970, his nephew Nicola Trussardi took over the business and the fashion house soon began producing a range of leather goods from handbags to shoes and wallets. The company expanded once again in the 1980s launching ready to wear collections for both men and women in 1983 and 1984. After the success of his ready to wear lines, Trussardi launched a new line called Trussardi Action in the mid 1980s. The Trussardi Action line was to be a modern, ready to wear line featuring fashions for both men and women. As of the fashion at the time, many of the pieces could be worn by either men or women as evidenced in the abundance of oversized tailoring worn by the female models. This was an age in Italian fashion with a heavy emphasis on a utilitarian look that moved away from the prissy, overtly feminine styles of the previous decades. Arguably, this was a time where women's fashion heavily mirrored male fashion and vice versa. The Trussardi Action line's colour palette also reflected this change in style with dark colours such as blacks and greys being the prominent colours in the collection with the occasional pop of yellow and blue in the more sports like items of the line.

Trussardi had previous ties to the theatrical world collaborating on a performance of Macbeth with Giorgio Strehler and the Piccolo Theatre of Milan that took place in the Roman forum of Verona in the early 1980s. Nicola Trussardi's theatrical aesthetic and approach to fashion perfectly mirrored Argento's own vision which made them a natural fit for a creative collaboration. Nicola Trussardi approached Dario Argento to direct the Trussardi Autumn/Winter 1986-87 fashion show for Trussardi Action in 1985 and the two worked together in the coming months to create a contemporary show that showcased Argento's visceral style alongside Trussardi's new collection. The show was held at Castello Sforzesco in Piazza del Cannone, Milan and took place on the 9th of March 1986.


The show has a real theatrical feel embodying Argento's style and attention to detail. At times the fashion show plays out like a film with models acting out various scenarios. The show starts off with the stage dressed like a nightclub with models dancing across the runway under neon lights. In another segment a group of female models argue with a male model as they walk down the catwalk, forming a circular group at the bottom of the runway where they push each other and squabble before returning up the catwalk. In classic Dario Argento style, murder and mayhem were incorporated into the show with a pair of mysterious assailants murdering a model on the catwalk early on in the show. After the model is stabbed to death, a group of male models bundle her up into a polythene sheet and roll her off the catwalk. Even now, the show challenges your ideas of what a fashion show is supposed to look like - it has a narrative, inventive use of props and a real sense of a story. Nowadays we're used to the more outlandish shows of designers like Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton but back in the 1980s this was a very innovative fashion show - in particular the staging of a murder.


Black gloves are a major focus throughout the show and several models wear them as part of their ensembles. There are several times throughout the show that the camera lingers on a black gloved cladded model and at one point in the show, the models take off the gloves one by one with the camera focusing in on each hand. The use of black leather gloves feel like a fitting tribute to Argento's own body of work whilst also referencing Trussardi's humble beginnings manufacturing leather gloves. The inclusion and focus of Trussardi's leather gloves feels like the perfect marriage between the director and the fashion house as gloves are an intrinsic part of both of their brands.


Argento is well known as an animal lover and animals have featured throughout his back catalogue from the birds in The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Opera to Inga the monkey in Phenomena and the cats in Inferno. It feels fitting that Argento references his love of animals in the Trussardi fashion show by incorporating a dog and a cat into the show. A male model walks with a cat whereas earlier in the show a female model in a blue trench coat holds a small dog as she walks down the catwalk. Its touches like this that make the Trussardi show feel like an exercise in performance art, giving the show a strange surreal edge. Why are the models walking with animals? What is the purpose? The inclusion of animals plays very much into Argento's famed dream logic as seen in his forays into supernatural horror.


Weather and the elements are an important part of Argento's show and rain and wind effects are used throughout to heighten the cinematic feel of the production. What I found interesting about the show is that in Argento's subsequent film, 1987's Opera, he uses wind machines in his fictional take on Verdi's Macbeth. Perhaps he took this idea from the fashion show or perhaps he had intended to use wind machines in his failed take on the opera prior to his involvement with Trussardi. The use of the wind machines works well as a concept as it looks great in terms of staging and theatrics but it also showcases the movement of the fabrics, complimenting Trussardi's clothing line.

The last segment of the show draws parallels with Argento's Tenebrae as well as his 1977 supernatural horror, Suspiria. Before this segment starts, golden reddish lights that resemble cat eyes flicker behind the panelled doors in the darkness in a moment that feels reminiscent of the scene in Pat's apartment at the start of Suspiria. The eyes subside and a model appears from behind a series of screens that look similar to the panelled walls in Jane's apartment at the end of Tenebrae. The model walks down the runway as rain pours from above as other models begin to appear and walk the catwalk. The use of rain and thunderous sound effects in this segment heightens this connection between the film and the fashion show as drenched long haired models emerge from the screens and walk the runway rejoicing as they sweep their hair back from their drenched faces evoking memories of Suzy Banyon at the end of Suspiria.  This is arguably the most memorable part of the show, culminating in the models dancing in the rain as Trussardi and Argento join them to rapturous applause.


Arguably, Argento's collaboration with Trussardi was a creative outlet for the director's failed attempt at directing Verdi's Macbeth, allowing him to work in a different medium outside of film. Argento's experiences with the Trussardi fashion show and Macbeth were heavy influences on Opera and watching the film with prior knowledge of his work on these productions brings new light to the film and where Argento was at this stage in his career. The character of Marco and his staging of Macbeth take on added meaning when you consider the elements at work in the Trussardi show. Furthermore, it's worth looking at the fashions featured in Opera in comparison to those on display in the Trussardi Action show. The utilitarian, unisex style in muted colours of the Trussardi show is very much evident in the wardrobe of Opera. Argento went on to work with Trussardi once again in 1986 when Nicola Trussardi provided the costumes for the Argento produced Demons 2 which also happened to feature one of the models in the Trussardi show.

Although a fashion show will be of little interest to fans of Argento and Italian cinema in general, for the die hards or those who want to know a little bit more about this period in Argento's career and/or the inspiration behind Opera, this is definitely worth half an hour of your time. The show is currently available to watch on YouTube.

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Opera (1987) Koch Mediabook & Screengrabs

Tuesday, 27 December 2016


I was asked by my Twitter friend @tommyknocker16 to do a comparison post of Koch Media's release of Dario Argento's 1987 giallo Opera. I've not posted in a while so I was up for the challenge and spent an afternoon therapeutically capturing images from both the Arrow and Koch releases for comparison. I've decided to write a little bit about what the release contains in case anyone is interested but I won't be covering the film itself although I intend to in the future. I'd like to give a big thanks to @GiornataNera who introduced me to Koch Media and mediabooks in general and who always gives me great advice on what releases to buy from Germany as well as information on language options and content. If you ever need specific information about German Italian horror/giallo releases then he'll be more than happy to assist!

The Mediabook

Koch's release is well presented in a glossy hard case with the original artwork from the film. The content of the mediabook is spread out across 3 discs featuring the film on Blu-Ray and DVD as well as an impressive selection of special features. The release also contains a booklet that features new writings on the film by Oliver Nöde - this is in German but if like myself, you're eager to gleam new information and analysis on Argento's work, you can probably run a photo of each page through Google Translate and read between the lines. The booklet also contains various black and white images from the film - it would have been nice if these were in colour but I appreciate that printing costs may have prevented this. All in all, this release is beautifully presented and will look great on your shelf alongside your other Argento releases. 

Unfortunately the special features are all in Italian with German subtitles. This is a real shame as there's some great featurettes and interviews included in this release with prominent figures in the Italian film industry such as Franco Ferrini and Sergio Stivaletti. It would have been nice to see Koch include English subtitles but I appreciate that time and cost constraints might have made this difficult. It's also understandable that a German release wouldn't cater to English speakers. Here's hoping that the newly announced US Scorpion release will contain some of the special features on the Koch release but with English subtitles. Despite the lack of English special features, I still think the release is worth the price for the film alone due to the superior image quality.

Special Features


  • "Blood Red Curtain" Interview with Dario Argento (22 mins)
  • "Who Has Done This, and Who am I?" Interview with writer Franco Ferrini (36 mins)
  • "Notes and Nightmares" Interview with composer Claudio Simonetta (30 mins)
  • "Revenge of the Crows" Interview with animatronics specialist Sergio Stivaletti (15 mins)
  • "The Curse of Macbeth" Interview with publicist Enrico Lucherini (14 mins)
  • "With Open Eyes" Interview with film historian Fabrizio Spurio (36 mins)
  • "Terror in the Cinema" Q&A with Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini and Lamberto Bava
  • Audio commentary with Dr. Marcus Stiglegger and Kai Naumann (Opera - 95 min version)
  • Daemonia music video 

Fortunately the film itself has four language options including remastered Italian, German and English audio tracks. The subtitles for the film only come in German so if you want to watch Opera in Italian with English subtitles you won't be able to do so which is frustrating as it's always nice to have this option. I watched the film in English and found the sound quality to be of a good standard - I didn't find the music overpowering, the voices were clear and the sound effects were even more gruesome than I remembered - who could forget the noise of the scissors in Giulia's death scene?! 

Screengrabs

I've compiled some screen grabs from the Koch mediabook as well as the Arrow DVD (released under the title "Terror at the Opera") to show you the difference in quality between the two releases. I hope the images below give you an idea of how great Opera looks on Blu. I found that the scenes set inside the opera house looked particularly impressive and the details of Marco's version of Macbeth really came to life in HD. I look forward to using screen grabs from the Koch release in future posts and will probably do a further post of screen grabs in the near future. This is my first time doing a comparison post so if you'd like to see more in the future, please let me know. 

ARROW DVD

KOCH MEDIA BLU RAY

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    ARROW DVD

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    ARROW DVD

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    Final Thoughts

    I bought this release a week before the Scorpion release was announced and in hindsight this might have deterred me from buying the Koch release if I'm being perfectly honest. I don't believe there's official confirmation over whether the Scorpion release will be region locked although it looks like it will be. If like me, you can't play locked blus than I'd definitely urge you to buy the Koch release despite the lack of English options on the special features. As you can see from the screens above, the film really does look spectacular and the improved image quality does bring a whole new level of appreciation for Argento's last great giallo. I'd say buy this if you're interested in the film alone but hold off and wait for Scorpion's release if you're looking for a more complete edition of the film.

    My Trip to Rome & Profondo Rosso

    Tuesday, 1 November 2016

    So as some of you may already know, my blogging has fallen by the wayside over the past year because I've been planning a wedding which is pretty much the most stressful and time consuming thing you can do. Every time I wanted to write an entry on American giallo or erotic thrillers, I was plunged into another crisis. Sadly as well this year, my beloved Grandpa passed away which has been very difficult for me and the wedding only served to remind me of that fact so I've really been stepping away from film stuff for a good portion of the year. However, I'm happy to say that I should be getting back into it now. I've just finished an essay for a certain distributor which I'm really excited about. Unfortunately I can't divulge what it is but I promise you it's a good one! I intend to make a visual post to accompany the essay which I'll post alongside the release of the film like I did with The Killer Dames release. Stay tuned for that!

    I'm going to do a separate post about the wedding as it was heavily influenced by my love of giallo and Italian horror but I have to wait for the photos so till then, you'll have to settle for this post which is about my experiences on my honeymoon in Rome. I'm going to talk a little about some of the Italian film locations I visited as well as some of the ones I intended to. Hopefully this will be an informative post that will answer some questions about the film locations used for Tenebrae and Inferno. I'm also going to talk about my visit to Profondo Rosso which will be detailed underneath my segment on film locations.


    Leading Lotharios of the Italian Giallo

    Saturday, 9 July 2016

    Living in a time where a high percentage of men deem it acceptable to slouch around in public wearing grey joggers while still maintaining that all women should look like models 24/7 has made me weep into my film collection wishing we still lived in a time where men would wear clothes that didn't have elasticated waistbands and instant access to their ballsacks. Why can't we go back to those good old days when men were able to slap a woman about if she was being hysterical without fear of being done for domestic battery? Ok, so maybe times have changed for the better but the fashions... well that's debatable. Part of the appeal of the old Italian films I so dearly love is the suave leading men and seductive leading ladies who were the epitome of seventies European cool. While the women get a lot of love in gialli, the men are often forgotten so here's my Top 10 leading men in gialli in no particular order. The criteria? You have to have appeared in some sort of Italian giallo at some point in your career and be hot by my standards. Being able to rock a turtleneck is an added bonus. Enjoy!


    Fashion & Italian Horror: The Night Evelyn Came out the Grave & The Red Queen Kills Seven Times

    Friday, 1 April 2016

    When I first started writing entries for my blog I intended for the majority of my posts to be straight up reviews of various gialli with the odd top ten post thrown in for good measure alongside the occasional foray into style in these films as it was something that interested me personally. When I wrote my in-depth feature on the fashions in Tenebrae I had no idea that it would be so popular and I was delighted at all the wonderful feedback I received which spurred me on to write more in my Fashion & Italian Horror series. It's been fantastic to share some of my thoughts and to hopefully bring some new perspectives to these films by examining some of the ways in which fashion is used to reflect themes and ideas in gialli. Mostly its just a great way of sharing some of the wonderful looks and examples of seventies fashion throughout these films. 

    Amazingly, writing these posts has led to paid work with Arrow Video and I'm absolutely delighted to announce that I have completed a piece for Arrow on style in the films of Emilio P. Miraglia which details fashion and interior design in The Night Evelyn Came Out the Grave and The Red Queen Kills Seven Time. My piece will be published in the accompanying booklet for the film and this will be released as a limited edition set in May which you can preorder now from Amazon and Arrow. So if you want to read my detailed thoughts I would recommending getting your copy ordered!

    As fantastic as it has been writing a piece for Arrow, sadly I've not been able to provide visuals for each film. I've decided to make a post here on my blog showing you all of the looks on display throughout both films and to give you an overview of the fashions. So here are all the looks in The Night Evelyn Came Out the Grave and The Red Queen Kills Seven Times. Enjoy and as a warning some of these pictures contain spoilers.


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