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ARGENTO’S SUSPIRIA + OPERA TO SCREEN AT THE TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX

on May 18, 2011 | 2 Comments

Mark July 2nd as booked if you live in the Toronto area and have been pining to see one or two vintage Dario Argento films on the big screen for a while now.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox [TBL] is screening Suspiria (1977) and Opera (1987) that day, although each film is part of two separate series.

Damn you, Toby! Damn you to Hell!

Billed under “James Schamus: Federico Fellini’s Toby Dammit and Dario Argento’s Suspiria.” Argento’s greatest aural and visual assault is slated for a 5:30pm screening, preceded by Frederico Fellini’s “Toby Dammit” segment from the French/Italian horror anthology Spirits of the Dead (1968).

Spirits was recently released in the U.K. on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Films, and it’s apparently Region Free (which means I’ll have to buy one to view, own, and hug). The one time I can recall the complete film was screened in print form in Toronto was maybe 15-20 years ago, after which the Image DVD emerged, followed by the HVE edition – none of which had Terence Stamp saying his English lines with his own voice.

The UK BR fixes that head-scratcher (the result of soundtrack rights issues), but in terms of a film print, it’s always been easier to show Fellini’s segment; not sure if it’s rights, or a collective loathing of Louis Malle gloomy and Roger Vadim’s bonkers segments.

True, but the movie's only 98 minutes long...

In any event, Fellini will lead into Argento, though the question on everyone’s mind is WILL IT BE UNCUT, or rather WILL IT BE THE RESTORED PRINT screened four years ago at Cannes, bought for U.S. distribution by the Weinsteins, and locked up in their film vault because the Brothers W suffer from Pack-Rat Syndrome.

The film is available in Europe on BR, but most reviewers aren’t happy: most are disappointed with the transfer, and this reviewer offers some shocking A / B comparisons between the Anchor Bay / CDE transfers. This leaves it up to the Brothers W to stop hoarding and release a good Argento film; Mother of Tears (2007) was such rabbit rubbish, they relinquished (smartly, I add) any involvement with Giallo (2009) and let that mess get lost in legal wrangling after serious money issues, and a terrible script.

Suspiria has had screenings in T.O. rep theatres, but I understand from post-screening comments it’s often been an older Fox print, with poor sound and all the juicy bits snipped out. It would be a wonder if the TBL people can wrangle the restored print from the Weinsteins’ basement and give it a premiere in their splendid theatre 1, 2 or 3.

If you’ve seen even mono films at the TBL, you’ll know Suspiria should sound fine, but if it’s a full 5.1 mix, earplugs may be necessary (or… not). The best-sounding audio mix still remains the old Image laserdisc, which was plain Dolby Surround Sound 2.0, but had oomph; the deeper into Argento’s narrative you travelled, the more you were smothered by Goblin’s music, and it felt good.

Har-vee... HAR-VEEE... Release me from your closet!

The TBL’s website (now better organized, but still in need of modification to organize the mass of text and stills) offers no details on print source, but I suspect it’s because they’re working on hiring Big Mo and his Doberman named ‘Tiny’ to convince the Weinsteins a Canadian premiere is necessary to maintain Peace on Earth.

A torture most foul: Betty must watch Mother of Tears and Giallo three times before freedom is granted. Will she succumb, or transcend the pedestrian horror?

Argento’s Opera is actually part of Colin Geddes’ “The Best of Midnight Madness” series, and screens at 11pm. Again, no details on whether it’s uncut, but given it’s the last time Argento had a substantive budget and made beautiful use of it, that one’s also worth attending. Think of the crow sequence, the pokey-through-the-chin surprise, and the ‘necklace tracheotomy’ on the big screen.

I’ll have a score tally shortly, plus some interesting links to assorted reviews as I’ve been rather busy covering an eclectic mix of stuff. I just wish there weren’t so many 3 hour movies this week.

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- – – Mark R. Hasan (Mondomark.com)

Tags: Best of Midnight Madness, Colin Geddes, Dario Argento, Frederico Fellini, Giallo (2009), goblin, Mother of Tears (2007), Opera (1987), Spirits of the Dead (1968), suspiria

Responses to ARGENTO’S SUSPIRIA + OPERA TO SCREEN AT THE TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX

  1. Pingback: Argento at the TBL and Anthony Gilbert’s “The Woman in Red” | mondomark.com

  2. James Bialkowski says:

    Can’t comment on the UK Blu Ray but the Japanese NTSC issue is jaw dropping.

    Only real downer about the disc is that the US trailer is the only extra

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