Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Fucking Christmas, Dario Argento.


Work-In-Progress Teaser for Dario Argento's DRACULA 3D


Yes, I really should be packing. No, I don't have time for this. But Jesus Fucking Christ, just look at this shit and tell me this didn't DEMAND 5 minutes of my busy schedule to address.

I want anyone who's ever had even the slightest shred of respect for il maestro del terrore, for Dario goddamn Argento, to look at this two and a half minutes of distilled cinematic pain and tell me there's anything left in him. Yeah yeah, it's not technically "finished" yet, but not even WETA's best is going to make this look any less shockingly retarded and sloppy. This is the sort of gateway to cinematic purgatory reserved for films like Highlander: The Source (Russian Director's Cut) and the live action Devilman - movies so appalling that the Surgeon General suggests they might actually give you cancer.

You remember when ol' Blue Eyes was singing in clubs for the last couple years of his life, forgetting the lyrics mid-song like some drunk asshole with a broken karaoke machine? You remember how sad you felt for him, and how you wish he'd just get a little place in Boca and live his last few years in quiet dignity as Frank Sinatra: The Legend, not the reality that he was an old man living borrowed time, acting out his classic shtick like some weird singing marionette? This new teaser is exactly the same thing for Dario Argento. What's worse is this is the teaser that producers are trying to use to sell the film to publishers; if this is what they're showing people to make them want to pay money for it, I shudder to think what the other two hours or so must be like.

As someone who doesn't hate Trauma, sat through The Card Player and left with a shrug and barely made it through Giallo in no less than three sittings with clenched fists and tears in my eyes... this is just pure shit. I actually want to give Rutger Hauer a big sympathy hug for having gone from something as amazing as Hobo with a Shotgun to... well, to this.

Dario Argento, as an asshole who's loved your films even when you only half deserved it, and was willing to look the other way when you slummed it up with crappy TV movies and actually sat through The Mother of Tears dubbed in Italian, wincing every three minutes, but stayed to the end because you were a God in your day... just stop. Please, for everyone, just stop making movies. The only thing you can do to your legacy now is stop tarnishing it any further. When Phantom of the Opera is no longer your worst film, we can no longer pretend than anything you made after Opera is even remotely good. Your work from 1990 onward has been middling, even at its best, but this teaser was just... God, I couldn't even watch it in one sitting. It's so bad I can't watch the fucking trailer without stopping to laugh and weep.

It's a Dracula movie and - I'm not making a word of this up - I JUST SAW A DUDE GET KILLED BY A GIANT PRAYING MANTIS. What. The. Fuck.

Anyway, it's time for me to pack more stuff. Just uh... yeah, Merry Fucking Christmas.

8 comments:

Greg M said...

I dunno what to think. It doesn't look achingly god-awful to me from someone other than Argento... but it is Argento and I'm disappointed, although not surprised.

I do actually love his Trauma, Phantom and Mother of Tears. Card Player was decent but Giallo was only tolerable though.

Oh and your Sinatra analogy doesn't fly with me... he was godawful at every stage as far as I'm concerned. And we all know how much my opinion means to you ;)

Kentai 拳態 said...

I certainly wouldn't call myself a fan of Sinatra, but I have a level respect for what the man did as an entertainer. Even if you hated the guy's old school crooning, he was (like Argento) sort of the go-to guy in his field, and to see him continue to go back to the same well and literally stumble all over himself was just... sad.

I'm afraid I literally have no time to discuss why Giallo, The Third Mother and Phantom of the Opera are like watching your own testicles dropped into a high speed blender, so I'll politely agree to disagree for the time being and we can pick this up at a later date. :)

For what it's worth, I half-like TRAUMA. There's a lot of things I'm not fond of - the bloodless murders and generic soundtrack especially - but it's got enough interesting elements kicking around that I think I enjoy it more than I'm frustrated by it. (I can't even say that about INFERNO!) But Trauma does signify a shift in gears for me; it was the first film he made without the full support of the Italian film industry (a period I jokingly refer to as "After the Fall of Rome"), and I'm not convinced he's ever recovered. His films began to feel more and more like ridiculously stilted TV movies, until that's what they literally became... I know the film industry has moved on from the era in which Argento was most relevant, but he still tries, and sometimes it's literally painful to watch.

THE MOTHER OF TEARS is by far the best film that Lucio Fulci's managed to direct from beyond the grave... it ain't good, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to give it a second watch just to wallow in the OMGWTF melange of not-scary goth witches, evil monkeys and rivers of human(?) filth. It's absolutely a failure as the final Third Mothers film, but at least it was something of an Epic Fail, right?

Balun's Ghost said...

Argento is the new Uwe Boll.

Greg M said...

Ah, see... I love Fulci just as much as I love Argento. I especially love Fulci for the fact that he can make all other Euro-cult directors' work look like public service advertisements thanks to his everything but the kitchen sink attitude.

Michael Mackenzie said...

Call me an idiotic optimist, but part of me is still holding out in the vain hope that Argento has another great movie in him. Not a SUSPIRIA/DEEP RED style masterpiece, but just something solid and decent. For what it's worth, I think THE STENDHAL SYNDROME is very close to masterpiece level, and while I don't think anyone would dispute that his post-OPERA output is very different from what came before it, it does suggest to me that he didn't suddenly become completely incompetent between 1987 and 1990. GIALLO was mediocre, MOTHER OF TEARS was a disappointment and the less said about his MASTERS OF HORROR episodes the better, but I think THE CARD PLAYER gets way too much flak and, while SLEEPLESS is basically just a greatest hits package elevated by the presence of Max Von Sydow, I can understand why it has its advocates.

I don't think I ever had high hopes of DRACULA, so this footage doesn't disappoint me as such. It certainly doesn't look good, though, and the cries of "this was never meant to be released"/"it's unfinished so of course it looks like ass" are starting to wear a bit thin now when you consider that this has been the defence for every single snippet of footage we've seen of the film so far, all of which is similarly bland and cheap-looking.

Kentai 拳態 said...

What's that, Michael? Do you take a firm "No Comment" stance on PHANTOM OF THE OPERA? ^_~

I'm 50/50 on THE STENDHAL SYNDROME to be honest. The first half is brilliant (shoddy CG aside!) and some of the dream sequences are pretty great, but the second half goes off the rails in a big way for me. It just got kind of boring, I think. It's not terrible or anything, but I don't think it's a masterpiece either.

As for THE CARD PLAYER, it's certainly not terrible. I'd compare it to a particularly good two-parter of a decent cable TV drama series - it's pretty smart and adequate on every level, but it's just not especially memorable or exciting either.

I hope nobody reading thinks I dis-like Lucio Fulci. His horror films often didn't make a lick of sense, but they always made up for it by being incredibly stylish and over the top. HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY and CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD might not be great films, but I'm perfectly mesmerized by their grotesque imagery and bizarre lack of sanity none the less.

I just have very different expectations from him than I do (or did?) of Dario Argento. THE MOTHER OF TEARS feels very much like a goofy, scattershot picture that Fulci might have made in the late 1980s, and that had actually been a Fulci released at the tail end of his career - you know, after ZOMBI 3 when he really lost his shit - I'd shrug it off as an ailing madman's fever dream. Sadly, this is the film we're going to have to accept as the final chapter in a trilogy that started with SUPRIA. And that's a bitter pill to choke down for me.

And that's all I've got time to say for in 2011. Greg, Michael, I'd love to continue this discussion next year.

Nicholous said...

I'm late on this one, but-

I think it is interesting that Drac 3D is produced by Gianni Paolucci, the man behind Bruno Mattei's last few awesomely wonderful cinematic turds.

I've argued now and again that, though I grew up a massive Argento devotee, around 2002 the promise of a new Bruno Mattei movie was far more exciting than anything on the horizon from Dario. Regardless of shifts in budget or the industry, or moving from film to video, Mattei's films always felt the same.

While consistency doesn't equal a great filmmaker, I like to think that now that we see Argento working with the same folks (albeit a higher budget presumably), we can finally put it to a test: who was better- Mattei or Argento?
:P

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