Profondo Argento (Book)

Written by Alan Jones

Published by FAB Press

With such a long history of working in the cinema and such a strange plethora of subjects covered in his movies, you’d think there would be more books written about Italian frightmaster Dario Argento. Sure, his films are not for everyone, but then neither are Alfred Hitchcock’s, and look how many books there are about him. I guess it’s good though, since an over-saturation of information would eventually lead to scandalous rumors about the man, plus it leaves the playing field open for a book like Alan Jones’ Profondo Argento.

Taking interviews and set visits Jones has done over the years, plus truckloads of new information that goes all the way up to Argento’s latest foray into television, “Do You Like Hitchcock?” Jones has managed to put together not only one of the best book ever written to give fans a real idea of what Argento is like as an artist, but also one of FAB Press’s most readable books yet.

Usually when I think of FAB I think of BIG, and this book certainly succeeds in that category, featuring over 300 double-column, small-type pages and hundreds of stills and behind the scenes photos from all of Argento’s efforts. What I mean is looking at it is intimidating, like most of FAB’s releases tend to be, but this was honestly one of the easiest times I’ve had getting through one of their books. Alan Jones doesn’t utilize the book’s space to delve into the meaning behind Argento’s films or what may have happened to the man to cause him to take such pleasure in the cinematic suffering of others. Instead he does what a film journalist does best: he delivers facts and stories based on what he’s witnessed and how those around him view Dario Argento, the director. What this does is make the book essentially one long, Argento-filled issue of Fangoria, to put it most simply. And it’s really hard to put down.

From The Bird With Crystal Plumage to The Card Player, every single one of Argento’s films to date are covered through set visits, features, and interviews, which the book also features in spades. Everyone from Dario’s former wife and mother of Asia, Daria Nicolodi, protégé Michele Soavi, fellow director George Romero, effects man Sergio Stivaloetti…pretty much anyone that’s worked beside Argento for any extended period of time gets their space to discuss the man and his work. The overall impression you get of Dario Argento is that he’s a very difficult man to work with because of his boundless energy and imagination and his refusal to do anything that he feels might endanger the chances of his vision making its way to the screen intact. Some people have an obvious distaste for him as a person, but no one can refute his talent as a director, and that just goes to show the extent to which Dario is dedicated to his work.

Most of the films covered also feature a review immediately following them culled from various publications Jones has contributed to over the years, and no matter how loving the feature preceding it was, if the movie was terrible Jones is the first to say it. This goes a long way to show his credibility as a writer because even though he’s a personal friend with Dario and his entire family, he will rip a movie to pieces (Phenomena is the most glaring example) if he feels Argento cheapened himself to make the film. I always appreciate this in a critic, and especially so when said cricitic is so close with the films’ creator, which only helps make the book that much more enjoyable for me. It’s bullshit-free, and that always makes for good reading.

Ultimately, the best thing I can say about this book is that it truly is a must-have for all Argento-philes. The only issue with a statement like that is true Argento-philes will most likely have already purchased it. If, however, you’re on the fence and not sure if it’s worth you hard-earned money just trust me when I say you’re not going to find a better, more honest and well written book on the work of Dario Argento. Get it as soon as you can.

4 out of 5

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Johnny Butane