Back in April, when Metrograph announced its forthcoming Dario Argento retrospective, it was said the Italian horror master would be appearing in person. A lot has happened since then. For one thing, the opening date of the series was moved from June to September 21. For another, Argento’s daughter, fellow filmmaker Asia Argento, has become involved in a #MeToo imbroglio that has, to some degree, sucked in her father as well.
Back in May, when Metrograph announced its postponement of the 12-film retrospective, it explained that “Mr. Argento wants to appear in-person, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we’ll need to shift the series until a soon-to-be-announced date in September.” When the new date was announced, we were once again assured that the 78-year-old giallo pioneer would be in attendance.
Days later, news broke that Asia Argento, who became a vocal proponent of the #MeToo movement after accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, had paid off an actor in one of her films who accused her of sexually assaulting him when he was 17. Some might have been hoping to ask Dario about his daughter’s denials, her seemingly contradictory text messages, and Dario’s own statements that the allegations against her had an “air of conspiracy.” But they won’t get the chance to do so, because Metrograph’s event page now says that “due to unforeseen circumstances, Dario Argento will not be attending as previously announced.”
Asked whether the latest change had to do with the Asia Argento controversy, a Metrograph spokesperson explained that “‘Due to unforeseen circumstances’ was the exact line we received from Mr. Argento when [he] had to cancel appearances in June and September. So, the appearances were decided by Mr. Argento. We postponed the series from June to September, but decided to not cancel a second time.”
As it happens, the new timing is fitting, since Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 cult classic, Suspiria, is set to open here Oct. 26. The already-acclaimed redo stars Tilda Swinton as the Markos Dance Academy’s Head Witch in Charge, and its release is sparking a flurry of Dario-related activity. From Sept. 21 to 27, IFC Center will screen a 4K restoration of the original Suspiria. And on Nov. 24, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin, led by the soundtrack’s keyboardist, will be performing the film score live during a sold-out screening at Murmrr Theatre.
If you’re like, “Who’s this Dario Argento??”, you might want to check out the beginner’s guide recently posted by Vulture. Here’s the gist:
Argento codified, refined, and arguably perfected the signature tropes of the form: a haywire plotting structure, jags of psychedelia rendered in eye-popping color, the black leather glove as an all-encompassing symbol of danger and desire. If his movies can be said to be “about” anything in a thematic sense, it would be sex and death, and he never strayed far from his pet obsessions.
Metrograph’s retrospective runs from Sept. 21 to 28, and includes screenings of the recently discovered uncut 35mm print of Suspiria as well as new restorations of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O’ Nine Tails, and Deep Red.
If you were turned off by Argento’s recent comments about there being “something shady, false or at least very strange” about the accusations against his daughter, you may want to get your campy scares elsewhere. There’ll be plenty of fresh blood at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, running Oct. 11 to 18 at Williamsburg theaters Nitehawk, Syndicated, Videology, and Wythe Hotel Cinema.