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Dario Argento's the Italian maestro of horror, period. His cult status grew because he eschews conventional narratives in favor of stories that feel like personal nightmares, a perspective that has made him a force in horror films for more than three decades. His films are unabashedly artistic, filtered through candy-colored lighting and elaborate death sequences. He's directed two episodes of the Masters of Horror series for cable and the final entry in his "witches" trilogy The Mother of Tears just saw release on DVD. (Read the MT review below.) What's more, Argento's name stays visible thanks to his daughter Asia: Her FHM and Maxim magazine spreads put maximum wood in teenage trou the world over.
Papa Argento took time from editing a new film to speak (in a very, very thick Italian accent) about his new film, what it's like to film his naked daughter, and to squelch those rumors that he's remaking his own Suspiria.
METRO TIMES: Mother of Tears didn't come out until 2007. Was there a reason it took so long to complete the trilogy?
DARIO ARGENTO: No. I shoot the first film Suspiria. I spent about three years on the script. And then I do Inferno. That took more than two years. I spent five years all around this project. After the second, I was so tired of these stories. And then I say, "No ... I don't want to finish the trilogy." I'll finish it when I'll be ready. And then many years pass and in the end the ideas come and I do the film. [laughs]
MT: What films made you want to be a director?
ARGENTO: I'm a fan of film really. I was [a film] critic and I was so enthusiastic to see the great old films. The German expressionists influenced me a lot ... the films of Ingmar Bergman. I like fantasy. I like something not so clear like real life. The stories are more related to the dreams and nightmares or the theories of Freud. This is the source of my films.
MT: You've directed you daughter in a few of your films. Is it hard to balance the father-daughter relationship with the director-actor relationship?
ARGENTO: No, in my case it was very easy. She listens to me, of course. And she saw so many of my films. And then when we start to work together it was so natural, so easy. It was great. Also I saw my daughter grow up in front of my camera. When she start she was 15, then she was 18 and now she's 25. It's a great moment for my life, also I think in her life.
MT: Has anyone said anything positive or negative about Asia's shower scene in Mother of Tears?
ARGENTO: What shower scene?
MT: Where Asia is naked in the shower. In particular filming her nude? No problems with that?
MT: OK. Maybe it's an American idea that it might have been strange.
ARGENTO: No, it's not strange. It's a film. I'm a director in that moment. She was also naked in another film of mine [The Stendhal Syndrome]. She was much more naked in that film. Sometimes it embarrasses her. ... Sometimes it's a little bit embarrassing. We speak before. I say, "OK, Asia, tomorrow we do a scene where you are naked. There's nudity. We must do it because the scene is in the screenplay." And she says, "OK. We'll do that" [laughs] Yes, it's easy.
MT: What interested you about doing your forthcoming film Giallo with Adrien Brody?
ARGENTO: It has lots of things that are close to my work and inspiration. It's like (when) something happens to the family when you are a child — something important, something strange, something terrible. And these are the things I like a lot about Giallo.
MT: Is it true you're remaking Suspiria?
ARGENTO: No, no I'm not. Somebody remake Suspiria but not me.
MT: So that's not true?
ARGENTO: No, no, no. I don't do the remake of Suspiria. Another director, another production. All the other things are different.
MT: I'm happy to hear that!
MT: Do you think you'll do something other than a horror film?
ARGENTO: [more laughter] No, not for the moment. But maybe. Don't say never. Never say never. I like the landscape of this kind of film. It's so big, so enormous. This is why I like this kind of film.
Paul Knoll writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.