I have a real soft spot for this film but as always, have been avoiding a revisit. Could it live up to my rose tinted memories?
This is a beautiful film and works on so many levels. I could controversially suggest that this is Argento’s finest moment, but of cause, to compare with Suspiria, Inferno and Deep Red, could be a tricky feat, but in my opinion, it stands on its own, a masterpiece of not only the horror genre, but cinema as a whole.
The story, set in a theatre. A horror film director (Ian Charleson) turns his attention to a grande Opera version of Verdi’s Macbeth. When his leading lady storms from the set, the understudy Betty (Cristina Marsillach) gets her chance to make a name for herself, but haunted by a strange nightmares from her past and the curse of Macbeth. Following the first night, she is confronted by a masked man, who ties her up, and tapes pins to her eyelids, forcing her to witness a murder. Through a number of flashbacks, we gather a shocking insight of the past, Betty’s mother, the killer and a dangerous taboo game.
Once again, Argento takes us through a tale of crime and murder leaving the audience guessing at who the killer is and what are the motives. The flashback scenes are brilliant, launched by a close up shot of the killers brain, flexing away. Ron Taylor as DP, here with his most inventive camerawork. Swooping shots of the theatre, corridors, through crowds and over the audience. One scene has a track and point of view of a Crow as it flies around the theatre. Magnificent.
Other groundbreaking moments here, a close up of a bullet as it ignites in the barrel of the gun, fires along and out, through a key hole and through the eye of the unlucky viewer, the bullet also taking out the phone at the end of the corridor. One of the most amazing scenes I’ve ever witnessed which still lives up to my memory.
Performances by Daria Nicolodi, Barbara Cupisti and the amazing Urbano Barberini. Cristina Marsillach is outstanding here, a brilliant performance from a talented young actress. A great supporting role also by Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni. A fine film which captures the pure style and elegance of Argento in all it’s shocking gory glory, but balanced with the beauty and calm which give the film a somewhat dream like state at times. As always, some subtle green, red and blue gels to attribute the past, but overall, a sleek, stylish modern representation of the master.