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10 Best Dario Argento Films

Mamma Mia! Or maybe that should be … THREE Mammas Mia!
Best Dario Argento Films
By  · Published on October 21st, 2022

5. Opera (1987)

Opera Argento Horror Movies

It’s only fitting that the opera, whose origins began in Italy, would serve as the backdrop for Dario Argento’s grand masterpiece. This is a movie that opens with a raven mocking the opera’s star as she practices and then ends with the film’s heroine frolicking in the meadows of the Swiss Alps before the thought-to-be-dead villain reappears and attacks her once more. And if you’re mad that I spoiled the ending, that’s dumb because the movie is thirty-five years old, and also, the ending of Argento films don’t matter. It’s about the twists and turns and general weird happenings that get you there. It’s also about the accompanying music. In this case: the wonderful Claudio Simonetti. There’s also a really cool scene with some creepy eye stuff. In short, Opera rules. (Chris Coffel)

4. Tenebrae (1982)

Tenebre Argento Horror Movies

Get out your Dario Argento bingo cards because, holy smokes does Tenebrae play the hits. Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) is an American horror novelist who has traveled to Italy to promote his latest book: Tenebrae. Along for the ride are his agent (John Saxon) and assistant Anne (Daria Nicolodi)… and, unbeknownst to him, his bitter ex-wife (Veronica Lario). The gang’s all here. Sure enough, a spree killer taking inspiration from Neal’s books is on the loose.

Repressed memories, murderous leather gloves, and garish red gore aplenty follow in what is easily one of Argento’s greatest and most autobiographical flicks. Featuring a predictably toe-tapping score from prog-rock legends Goblin, Tenebrae is pretty much as good as it gets as far as twisty, ultra-violent thrillers are concerned. No ranked list of Argento’s horror works would be complete without it. (Meg Shields)

3. Suspiria (1977)

Suspria Argento Horror Movies

It’s hard to believe that Argento made Suspiria during the early days of his career because the witchy classic is a true case of a great artist firing on all cylinders. Rarely has a horror film ever looked or sounded more stylish than this blood-soaked, Goblin-scored opus. The film follows Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), a wide-eyed American ballet student whose arrival at a prestigious German dance academy coincides with the beginning of a series of dark, intriguing occurrences.

While other Argento films are most memorable for their liberal use of bright red giallo splatter, Suspiria purposefully obscures as much as it reveals for most of its runtime, cultivating an air of tension and mystique around the clearly bedeviled academy. A creative endeavor so visually and tonally inspired that it calls to mind works as far-ranging as Rosemary’s Baby and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Suspiria is also one of Argento’s most accessible works. The film plays with the tropes and obsessions that would reoccur in the filmmaker’s works for years to come, from feminine power to proto-slasher structure, and the result is one of the best horror films of the ‘70s. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

2. Phenomena (1985)

Phenomena Horror Argento

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Deep Red may be Argento’s best film, but my favorite remains the one with Jennifer Connelly controlling bugs. The film takes giallo traditions – an unseen gloved killer, stylish murder set-pieces, an adrenalized score – and pairs them with some bonkers beats. A wheelchair-bound Donald Pleasance with a razor-wielding chimpanzee? Sure. A murderous and deformed child whose weapon of choice is a metal spear? Why not. The aforementioned protagonist, who’s always had a very close relationship with insects and can call to them for help at any time? Absolutely. This movie rocks. And I’m not just referring to the metal soundtrack. (Rob Hunter)

1. Deep Red (1975)

Deep Red Argento Horror Movies

With Deep Red, Argento pulls off a genuine magic trick: he shows you the truth, but you never see it. When musician Marcus (Blowup’s David Hemmings — clearly not a stranger to murder mystery masterpieces) witnesses the brutal slaying of a psychic, the central question is how much did he actually see… and will he piece together the details before the killer gets him too. Twisted and intricately plotted, Deep Red is notable for how it pulls off all of its moving parts and manages to conceal what, in retrospect, was in plain sight all along. It’s a testament to Argento’s masterful command of craft that he has such control over every piece of this glorious giallo puzzle. (Anna Swanson)

That’s it for Dario Argento’s top ten horror films, ranked! Now that you’ve been inundated with leather gloves, red herrings, and the genius of Daria Nicolodi, press on and keep browsing the rest of our 31 Days of Horror Lists!

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.