Cinema of Italy: Horror and thriller

When speaking of the "genre" cinema we must give also attention to "horror" and "thriller". During the 1960s and especially in the following decade a new wave of directors was born and has re-invented several forms of "horror" movies for years to come, influencing many international film makers such as Quentin Tarantino, Brian De Palma and Tim Burton.

One of the fundamental directors of this genre was first and foremost Mario Bava, a cinematographer turned into director. Not only had he created a real starting point for the quality of horror movies in Italy but it was mostly because of his great narrative, both cultured and sophisticated. Essential titles of his filmography are jewels like “La maschera del demonio” (1960), “La frusta e il corpo” (1962), “Operazione paura” (1966), “I tre volti della paura” (1965), the posthumous “Cani arrabbiati” or the precurson of modern horror movies: “Reazione a catena” (1971).

Dario Argento, ideal follower of certain Bava’s athmospheres, has definitely made the horror Italian style a more popular cinema, swinging from the pure thriller to the fantasy horror, with movies that still today are used as model from an esthetic and story-telling point of view. Although Argento was deeply inspired by Bava’s “La ragazza che sapeva troppo” and “Sei donne per l’assassino”, he was able to evolve by using unique editing techniques and combining very effective soundtracks, insinuating and virtuous (during this golden period a fundamental collaboration with the group Goblin). Some of the titles to be mentioned are: “L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo” (1970), “Profondo Rosso” (1975), “Phenomena” (1985) and the masterpiece “Suspiria” (1977).

In this genre many diverse directors have left their mark: Antonio Margheriti (“Danza macabra”, “Contronatura”), Riccardo Freda (“L’orribile segreto del Dr. Hichcock”, “Lo spettro”), Lucio Fulci (“Non si sevizia un paperino”, “Sette note in nero”), Pupi Avati (“La casa dale finestre che ridono”, “Zeder”), Ubaldo Ragona (“L’ultimo uomo della Terra”), Francesco Barilli (“Il profumo della signora in nero”), Pasquale Festa Campanile (“Autostop rosso sangue”), Massimo Dallamano (“Il medaglione insanguinato”, “Cosa avete fatto a Solange?”), and even Federico Fellini, who deviated into the horror side in the episode “Toby Dammit” in the movie “Tre passi nel delirio”.

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