Dario Argento was born in Rome, Italy, in 1940. He is the son of the Italian film producer and executive Salvatore Argento, and the Brazilian-born photographer Elda Luxardo. Before becoming a screenwriter and later a director, he was a film critic. In high school, he already wrote for various maagzines and instead of attending college, he took a job as a columnist. While he was a columnist at the newspaper Paese Sera, he started to become more involved with making films, namely by starting his carreer as a screenwriter. The highlight of his screenwriting carreer would be his collaboration with Bernardo Bertolucci, for Sergio Leone's spaghetti western, Once Upon a Time in the West. In 1969, after the release of the western, he started his carreer as director, by making his directorial debut, L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo, better known as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. It was a giallo film, and was released in 1970. It became a major hit in his native country and inspired to Argento to create two sequels for the film, with Il gatto a nove code/The Cat o' Nine Tails in 1971 and 4 mosche di velluto grigio/Four Flies on Grey Velvet in 1972. It would become known as Argento's "animal trilogy". After a short break from the genre, where he filmed two TV dramas and a period comedy, he continued his legacy with Deep Red, in 1975. Deep Red is often cited as the best giallo ever made. His work on the giallo genre made him world famous and would inspire other horror directors greatly.
Argento's most well-known work, Suspiria was released in 1977. It became the first part of his The Three Mothers trilogy, with Inferno in 1980 and The Mother of Tears in 2007. Between Suspiria and Inferno, he worked on Dawn of the Dead, with George A. Romero becoming one of its producers. He also provided the soundtrack for the film. He also oversaw its European release, which was renamed to Zombi. Between Inferno and The Mother of Tears, he made a whole slew of films, started with returning to Giallo genre, with Tenebrae in 1982. In 1985, he combined giallo and supernatural fantasy with Phenomena. It was the first time, the director would use steadicam. Both Tenebrae and Phenomena got lukewarm receptions on their initial release, but each has been reappraised in later years.
After Phenomena, Argento took a break from directing however, this in favor of writing screenplays for Lamberto Bava's: Dèmoni and Dèmoni, released respectively in 1985 and 1986. He returned to directing films in 1987, with Opera. The film had become notorious for the real-life misfortunes, constisting out minor accidents and mishaps, that plagued the production.
During the early 1990's, Argento and fellow Italian director Lucio Fulci were planning to make The Wax Mask. The project was postponed continually however, this was due to financial problems. Fulci died in march of 1996, just when Argento was able to gather funding. Sergio Stivaletti would later direct the film, with screenwriting credits given to both Argento and Fulci. In the same year, he made the first Italian film that made use of CGI effects, this with La Sindrome di Stendhal/The Stendhal Syndrome. He finished the 90's, with Il fantasma dell'opera/The Phantom of the Opera.
He started the 2000's with the film Non Ho Sonno/Sleepless in 2001 and continued with Il Cartaio/The Card Player in 2004. The latter was both praised and panned by critics. Although there was much praise for the Techno score, most critics found it too mainstream and complained it lacked Argento's usual flourish. In 2005, he directed the TV film, Do You Like Hitchcock!, a homage to famous director Alfred Hitchcock. Later that year, he would make his first episode of Masters of Horror, Jenifer, which was the fourth episode of the first season of the anthology series. The following year, he made his second episode, with Pelts. After Pelts, he finally finished his Three Mothers trilogy, with Mother of Tears, in 2007.
His last two films were Giallo, in 2009 and Dracula 3D, in 2012. His plans for a 3D remake of Profondo Rosso/Deep Red were shelved however, due to Giallo 's commercial failure in Italy.
List of Horror Films, directed by Dario Argento
- L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970)
- Il gatto a nove code (1971)
- 4 mosche di velluto grigio (1972)
- Profondo Rosso (1975)
- Suspiria (1977)
- Inferno (1980)
- Tenebrae (1982)
- Phenomena (1985)
- Opera (1987)
- Two Evil Eyes (1990)
- Trauma (1993)
- La Sindrome di Stendhal (1996)
- Il fantasma dell'opera (1998)
- Non ho sonno (2001)
- Il Cartaio (2004)
- Do You Like Hitchcock! (2005)
- Jenifer (2005)
- Pelts (2006)
- La Terza madre (2007)
- Giallo (2009)
- Dracula 3D (2012)