Argento Vs. Fulci: Who do you Choose?

Suspiria_89

It goes without saying that I’m a huge fan of Italian horror. Ever since I first saw the amazing masterpiece that is “ Suspiria”, I’ve been watching as many Spaghetti horror flicks as I possibly could. As most of you already know, there is no shortage of talented Italian directors. But none have impressed me more than Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. Argento and Fulci in a way have very similar styles, and both have managed to make some truly incredible horror films. Both directors usually focus on atmosphere and style more than story. This is especially true with some of Fulci’s films. I’m not saying that Argento’s and Fulci’s movies don’t have stories(because they do) but usually the plots are thin and sometimes murky. But what they lack in story they both make up for with tons of atmosphere and sometimes gory violence. So……… this is where I present the question. Which do you prefer? Whose films do you enjoy better? Do you like the more artistic Argento films or do you enjoy the more violent Lucio Fulci films? This is a question that I frequently ask myself and time after time I can‘t decide. So I’m going to list three of what I consider to be Argento’s best films and three top notch Fulci films and then I’m going to compare them.

First up on the list is one of my all time favorites and is considered by many to be Argento’s best film.

Suspiria: A newcomer to a fancy ballet academy gradually comes to realize that the staff of the school are actually a coven of witches bent on chaos and destruction.

Suspiria is the proof that Dario Argento isn’t just a director, but an artist. The camera is his brush and he uses it to paint beautiful yet haunting pieces of art. Although the plot is fairly thin, Suspiria is overflowing with style. Everything from the vibrant set pieces to the pulsing score give Suspiria one of the best horror movie atmosphere’s of all time. Not to mention the bright multi-colored lighting that at times makes Suspiria look like a twisted Disney film. Throw in couple of gory graphic murders into the equation and you end up with one of the most talked about Italian horror movies of all time. Like the tagline says “The Only Thing More Terrifying Than The Last 12 Minutes Of This Film Are The First 92”.

Tenebre : Anthony Franciosa stars as Peter Neal, a bestselling horror novelist whose promotional tour in Italy takes a terrible turn when a mysterious killer re-creates the brutal murders from his book with real-life victims.

Tenebre is probably my favorite Argento Giallo. Tenebre is usually referred to as being a slasher film for grownups, and I would agree. Unlike most slasher movies, Tenebre actually has a well thought out story with plenty of mystery involved instead of being just a mindless slash fest. Like most of Argento’s work, Tenebre is full of style. Ominous almost voyeuristic camera shots accompanied by a fantastic synthesizer score and a couple of gory murders make Tenebre an intense thriller. A must see for all horror fans.

Phenomena : Jennifer Connelly stars as an outcast student at a Swiss boarding school who discovers both her telepathic power to control insects and the blood-soaked trail of a razor-wielding killer.

Phenomena is one of the most unique and original horror films I’ve ever seen. I can’t think of another horror movie that involves both a serial killer and a girl who can telepathically control insects. The story is very interesting but like some of Argento’s other films it’s also muddled. But in a movie that has as much style and originality as Phenomena, it doesn’t matter. Much like Suspiria, Phenomena has a almost fairytale like vibe going for it. Beautiful cinematography, stunning dream sequences, one of the most amazing soundtracks ever put into a horror film and a bizarre ending are just a few things that Phenomena has going for it. If you haven’t seen Phenomena yet, you’re missing out.

Now we’ll move onto the fulci films and first up on the list is none other than the amazing “The Beyond”.

The Beyond: A remote and cursed hotel, built over one of the seven gateways, becomes a yawning malevolent abyss that begins devouring both the bodies and the souls of all who enter in a graphic frenzy of gory crucifixions, chunkblowing chain-whippings, eyeball impalements, sulphuric acid meltdowns, flesh-eating tarantulas, throat-shredding demon dogs and ravenous bloodthirsty zombies.

The plot in The Beyond is all over the place and for the most part incoherent. But I’ve learned over the years to never question a Fulci film. Just enjoy the incredible violence that’s taking place, and that’s one thing that The Beyond is full of. Like a lot of Fulci’s films, we get to see some truly awesome eye gouging scenes. No matter how many eye gouging scenes I see, I never get tired of them. But The Beyond doesn’t stop at the gouging scenes. We also get to see a awesome throat ripping scene, crucifixions and a fake but still cool tarantula face eating scene. The highlight of The Beyond is the gore and violence, but there a other reasons to watch. Such as the eerie cinematography, dreamlike atmosphere and a amazing ending.

The House by the Cemetery: A young family moves from their cramped New York City apartment to a spacious new home in New England. But this is no ordinary house in the country: the previous owner was the deranged Dr. Freudstein, whose monstrous human experiments have left a legacy of bloody mayhem. Now, someone - or something - is alive in the basement, and home sweet home is about to become a horrific hell on earth.

The House By the Cemetery introduces us to some of the dumbest horror movie characters of all time. Including none other than the infamous “Bob”. Who just might be the most annoying kid ever. But due to the amazing violence we quickly forget about the dumbness of the characters. We see skull stabbing, gory neck stabbings, neck sawing, a bizarre bat attack scene that ends in a blood bath and of course we get some throat ripping. There is also another scene that shows us Dr. Freudstein’s work area and the floor is literally covered with organs and severed limbs. Definitely a scene that stays with you for a while. Like a lot of Fulci’s films, the plot makes little to no sense and when the film ends we are left with a lot of unanswered questions. But that doesn’t stop The House By the Cemetery from being a fun but crazy Fulci film.

The New York Ripper: A blade-wielding psychopath is on the loose, turning The Big Apple bright red with the blood of beautiful young women. As NYPD detectives follow the trail of butchery from the decks of the Staten Island Ferry to the sex shows of Times Square, each brutal murder becomes a sadistic taunt. In the city that never sleeps, he's the killer that can't be stopped!

Not only is The New York Ripper my favorite Fulci film, but it is also one of my favorite slasher films period. It has been called misogynistic and sexist, but I just call it a masterpiece. The New York Ripper is with out a doubt one of the strangest most unique and violent slasher films of all time. Unlike some of Fulci’s other films, The New York Ripper is well written and the story makes sense. And there actually is reasoning behind the brutal killing and it’s rather sad once we find out about it. But what makes The New York Ripper so memorable is the violence. This might be Fulci’s most violent film besides “The Cat in the Brain”. Like Fulci once said "L'omicidio e arte Italiana", which translates to Murder is Italian Art; and you can tell  he believed that by watching The New York Ripper. The New York Ripper features gutting, vagina mutilation, eye ball cutting, stabbings and head shots. And yes, the killer does quack like a duck. It might sound silly but it’s actually quite unsettling. If you’re a gorehound like myself, I suggest you watch The New York Ripper if you haven’t already.

If we look back and compare the Argento films with the Fulci films, we notice some similarities. All have a great atmosphere, interesting but muddled stories and dollops of gore. So in the end I guess it depends on which mood I’m in on any particular day. If I want to see a more artistic horror film I’ll go with a Argento movie, if I want a more over the top violent film I’ll pop in a Fulci film and enjoy the mutilation that unfolds before my eyes. So which director you prefer and what is your favorite film by that director?

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