Morning Chronicle - Italy's horror king seeks 'meaning' in schlock

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Italy's horror king seeks 'meaning' in schlock
Italy's horror king seeks 'meaning' in schlock

Italy's horror king seeks 'meaning' in schlock

Call girls in jeopardy, a serial killer on the loose, fountains of blood -- horror master Dario Argento has returned to filmmaking after a 10-year hiatus, saying Friday it's been his mission to bring "meaning" to schlock.

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The Italian director who inspired generations of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino premiered his latest thriller "Dark Glasses" co-starring his daughter Asia at the Berlin film festival.

Argento, 81, is known for dozens of gore-spattered flicks including 1977's legendary "Suspiria" about witches, dance and psychoanalysis in Cold War West Berlin.

The new movie, Argento's first since 2012's "Dracula 3D", tells the story of sex worker Diana who serves her sad sack clients in Rome with dignity and respect.

But when one arrives at her home stinking of the dogs he trains for a living, she sends him away to shower first -- a "humiliation" that enrages him.

Meanwhile a murderer is targeting prostitutes and Diana finds herself followed in her car by a speeding white van that runs her off the road.

The crash leaves her blind and a Chinese couple is fatally injured in the pile-up, while their young son Chin is in the back seat.

Diana is placed in the care of an advisor to the blind (Asia Argento) who provides her with a female seeing-eye dog, German shepherd Nerea, to guide and protect her.

Chin, now in a Catholic care home, runs away from the nuns and winds up on Diana's doorstep.

- 'The police do nothing' -

Diana, Chin and Nerea soon come under siege by the killer who wants to finish the job. They seek help from the ineffectual police but realise only they can save themselves.

Argento said many horror pictures by his imitators lacked "meaning" and that he was interested in a story of a woman who seeks her own justice when the authorities let her down.

Asked if he had been inspired by the #MeToo movement his daughter Asia helped spark, he said the film and her story were unrelated.

"This is nothing new," he told AFP.

"This has always happened -– women experience violence and go to the police and the police do nothing. It has nothing to do with #MeToo."

Asia Argento's revelations five years ago that she had been raped by the US producer Harvey Weinstein in 1997 at the age of 21 helped trigger the campaign by assault survivors.

An actress and director, Asia Argento's earliest screen appearances included roles in many of her father's productions.

Her autobiography last year depicted a wild but painful childhood in Rome, trapped with a neglectful father and violent mother.

The 46-year-old told reporters at the festival she was pleased to be back in front of her father's camera.

"Years have passed since our last movie so I could mature," she said.

"This is an Argento movie. Nobody can do an Argento movie like an Argento -- it is his fantasy world, his dream, his nightmares."

Although proud of his impact on global cinema, the director admitted he hadn't cared for the 2018 remake of "Suspiria" by Oscar-winning filmmaker Luca Guadagnino starring Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton.

"I didn't like 'Suspiria' at all, it was all wrong. The music was disgusting, there was no pathos," he said.

"There's no reason to remake the films -- they were made at that time and that's enough. The only reason would be for the money."