I don't think anyone in the history of horror movies has done it better than Dario Argento. Look at his greatest films: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Susperia, Inferno, Tenebrae, Opera, and yes, The Stendhal Syndrome. These are works of genius. Explosions of sight and sound, Argento films assault the senses and stimulate the brain. His use of color, the jarring soundtracks, the disorienting plots are not for everyone. The explicit use of violence can be off-putting to many. But those who love Dario Argento movies consider him to be the maestro.

Like many geniuses, Dario Argento can be difficult. The movies are often hard to follow. They lack logic. His world is dreamlike and surreal, with blood and horror just out of eyeshot at every turn.

Argento is a fascinating artist. Most fans would like to know more about his inner thought processes. At long last he has given us an autobiography, a lovely volume from Fab Press, which reveals a lot about his motivations and obsessions.

Fear: The Autobiography is a good book, and one I think is essential to any serious fan. It isn't perfect, and the writing is sometimes choppy. I think a lot was lost in translation. Still the book offers an intimate peek into Argento's complex mind. This book makes a fine companion volume to Maitland McDonagh's excellent Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento.

Sadly, it's almost certain that Dario Argento's best films are in the past. His movies for the last twenty years have done little but sully the man's reputation. I don't hate them all as much as others. I like aspects of Sleepless, The Card Player, Giallo, and even Do You Like Hitchcock. I have not had the heart to watch Dracula 3D. It looks atrocious. Still, nothing will ever negate the brilliance of his classic productions.

Reading Fear: The Autobiography makes me want to go back and experience Deep Red and Susperia again. This time with new eyes and greater knowledge of the strange mind behind the unsane spectacle of it all.

Written by Mark Sieber

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