Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dario Argento (Mediane 2008)

Compiled by Mediane Libri

Despite the relatively small size of the horror genre and the obscurity of many of its beloved films, there are a surprising number of books devoted to Dario Argento. So you would think, rationally speaking, that anyone seeking to put out a new book would come up with a more imaginative title than Dario Argento. Apparently, you would be incorrect, because the brand new Argento book published by Mediane srl is called just that. Strangely, it also doesn’t seem to have any authors, though Maurizio Baroni and Marco D’Ubaldo are credited (in tiny print) for doing “research.” I don’t understand how a book can not have an author or at least an editor. Surprise again. To get off on a snarky foot right away, I can tell you another thing the book doesn’t have -- an editor.

With all the Argento books already out there and already on my oversized books shelf, I'm not sure why the world needs another. There isn’t really any textual content to this book. It has a short introduction, featured both in Italian and English, a filmography that is over 100 pages long and crammed with stills and poster reproductions, an interview with Dario Argento about Ennio Morricone’s score work, an interview with Claudio Simonetti of Goblin, and a compilation CD. I’m not sure if the pictures, which make up 95% of the book, are worth it. Some of them are great, but a lot of the poster reproductions can already be found in other Argento books, most of which are over-sized and thus more impressive. However, the on-set stills really are great and necessary for any obsessive collector. There are even a few rare shots of Argento and Daria Nicolodi looking happy together.

The CD is also a bonus. It features sixteen of what I guess are some of the best or at least most popular tracks from Argento’s films. Unfortunately, most of these can be found on other compilations like the new, amazing two-disc Ennio Morricone set, Crime and Dissonance, or are widely available on soundtracks. It is a good introduction to the music of Argento’s films for beginners. It also presents a fairly diverse range of music from spooky to terrifying to jazzy all in a period of twenty minutes. It also pretty lengthy with 16 tracks from a wide variety of Argento's films.

The track listing is as follows:
1. Ennio Morricone - Piume di Cristallo - Bird with the Crystal Plumage
2. Ennio Morricone - Placcaggio - Cat O'Nine Tails
3. Ennio Morricone - Ninna Nanna in Blu - Cat O'Nine Tails
4. Ennio Morrcine - Quattro Mosche Di Velluto Grigio - Four Flies on Grey Velvet
5. Goblin - Profondo Rosso - Deep Red
6. Goblin - Mad Puppet - Deep Red
7. Goblin - Suspiria - Suspiria
8. Keith Emerson - Inferno - Inferno
9. Simonetti, Morante, Pignatelli - Tenebre - Tenebre
10. Goblin - Phenomena - Phenomena
11. Claudio Simonetti - Opera - Opera
12. Steel Grave - Steel Grave - Opera
13. Pino Donaggio - Trauma - Trauma
14. Goblin - Non Ho Sonno - Sleepless
15. Claudio Simonetti - II Cartaio - The Cardplayer
16. Signor Wolf - Dark Dreams - Tribute bonus track

While I'm pleased to hear some early songs on there, particularly the jazzy tracks from Cat O'Nine Tails, I have mixed feelings about this compilation. As I said, there are some nice, infrequently heard tracks, but there are also typical things like the themes from Tenebre, Deep Red, and Suspiria, great songs though they all are. It also seems odd to include two tracks from Deep Red and Opera when other films are completely unrepresented. And I felt it was a bit brazen to include tracks from some of his newer efforts that are barely worth calling attention to, such as The Cardplayer.

The real bummer, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, is that the introduction and interviews are dual language. OK, it isn’t specifically the fact that they are dual language, but more the fact that they neglected to pay a competent English speaker to translate from the Italian. There are typos, poor grammar, and occasional mis-translations. If you read enough Italian to go back and forth, the translation is incredibly uneven, with a lot of words added or changed in the English addition, sometimes dumbing down the text. I really hate to dislike a book on this principle, but it is just a mark of un-professionalism to not have an editor do basic things like add commas and end parentheses, particularly when it happens so repeatedly with such little text.

I don’t know whether or not you should follow my example, but I can tell you exactly why I bought this book -- because I kept hearing that it was limited edition and would be out of print soon. And I would buy it again, if only to hold a pretty spot on my over-crowded bookshelf. Is it essential? Of course not. Is it a cool collector’s item? Hell yes. Make up your own mind about whether or not you need to own it before they go out of print. I initially bought it from my friends at Diabolik DVD, but Amazon also carries it.

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