I've decided to make a list about the man who is the main reason behind my love for the giallo film: Dario Argento. And since this is a gore-a-thon, I thought it best to base the list on the top ten kill scenes from this film-making god who’s delighted in bringing us some of the very best and groundbreaking kill scenes of all time.
So get cozy and prepare yourself for At the Mansion of Madness’s very first list:
Top Ten Goriest Kill Scenes from Dario Argento. Enjoy!
10) Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005): Unsuspecting pestle bludgeoning from behind
Argento’s voyeuristic made-for-TV murder mystery only has one murder in it, which is oddly unusual for the director, but they sure did make it count. The murder happens late one night in an apartment across the street from lead character Julio’s apartment. The mother of the attractive girl Julio spies on with binoculars is violently killed with two lethal cracks to the skull by a killer wielding a bronze pestle, leaving a bloody crime scene and an unsolved murder for Julio to obsess over for the greater part of the film.
9) Pelts (2006): Losing a hand on an elevator and a homicidal Meat Loaf
I rather enjoy Argento’s two contributions to The Master of Horror TV series, as they were a nice return to gory form after the director had been shying away from extreme bloodletting for quite some time. The stories aren’t bad at all, but most notable is the buckets of gore the films deliver, particularly with Pelts. By the bloody elevator finale, echoing that of Deep Red, it became quite obvious that Dario had gotten his bloodlust back; something he definitely needed to finally film the third movie in his Three Mothers Trilogy.
8) Inferno (1980): Fed to the rats in Central Park
Cat lovers will find themselves cheering the man-eating rats on, in this gruesome little scene that Argento dreamt up while looking out on Central Park from his hotel room in New York. After drowning a bunch of cats in a burlap sack, late one night in the park, the crippled antique store owner, Kazanian, slips and falls into a shallow lake. Unable to get up, rats start to chew at his flesh, and the only other person around to hear his cries for help is a big, hefty looking cook, working a stand nearby, who eventually comes running around the lake, carrying a knife, and, let’s just say, things get a lot worse for Kazanian.
7) Deep Red (1975): Moving elevator decapitation
Argento seems to have a fascination with gruesome elevator finales, as seen in Pelts and The Cat o’ Nine Tails, but it was done best in his giallo masterpiece Deep red. After a slick and shocking twist, the movie goes out with a violent bang when someone loses their head in a moving elevator, leaving a reflected image in a pool of deep red blood of David Hemming's distressed facial expressions, making for one of the coolest ending credits ever.
6) Opera (1987): Slaughtered for Show
Opera takes a while to get going, but when lead character Betty is tied up with her eyes kept open with razor sharp needles and forced to watch the killer slaughter her boyfriend, things are in full swing from that moment on. Complete with multiple convincing stabs from the killer with a medieval looking blade, the scene is extremely bloody and actually a little unpleasant.
5) Phenomena (1984): Razor blade vengeance of the chimp
This face slashing scene involving a chimp with a personal vendetta and a razor blade she fished out of a trash bin doesn’t end up being as stupid as it sounds. It’s really the timing of this part that makes it work so well, and to say any more would spoil it.
4) Mother of Tears (2007): Orally Mutilated, disemboweled, and strangled with own intestines
The general consensus regarding Argento’s final film in his Three Mothers Trilogy, The Mother of Tears, is that it pales in comparison to its predecessors, Inferno and Suspiria, lacking their colorful palettes and surreal craftsmanship. But the film is brutal as Hell and extremely entertaining, and, seriously, there’s nothing else like it. It’s flawed, but so were Argento’s most celebrated films of the past. This lengthy, ridiculously bloody kill scene with Coralina Cataldi- Tassoni early in the movie is one Hell of a grabber, and, quite honestly, it was nice seeing Dario going overboard.
3) Sleepless (2001): English horn oral trauma
This is a brief but traumatizing visual that takes place during lead character Giacomo’s childhood flashback of when his mother was murdered by a killer with an English horn. Though you can tell it’s a dummy, it still feels incredibly brutal and unsettling, and it should rip an “Oh my God” from the throats of viewers seeing it for the first time.
2) Suspiria (1977): Slaughtered boarding school runaway by hairy arm thing
Argento goes all out with the first supernatural kill of his career at the beginning of Suspiria. This is Argento’s most famous and well known kill scene. It’s logic defying, it’s beautiful, it’s exciting, it’s lengthy, it’s excessively gory, and it establishes just what type of horror film viewers are in for early on: a type they’ve never seen before.
1) Tenebre (1982): Wall splatter masterpiece
The start of Tenebre’s hugely satisfying bloody climax begins with the murder of one of the more suspicious characters in the film. The visual of blood spraying over a white wall after the killer lops the victim's arm off with an axe is like that of a painter creating a work of art on a canvas. This has to be one of the most visually stunning murders in Argento’s career. It is extremely realistic and comes as quite a surprise and is still just as captivating today as it was in 1982.
Well there you have it: Dario Argento’s ten best gory kill scenes, according to me. Did you agree/disagree? Did your favorite scene not make the list? Step up to the plate and let everyone know; I’m sure this is a pretty controversial topic.
This article is part of Blood Sucking Geek’s Ultimate Gore-a-thon: A Splatterific Extravaganza, and all readers are encouraged to check out all of these other blogs/sites participating in the gore-a-thon.