****/**** Image A Sound B+ Extras B
starring Anthony Franciosa, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D'Angelo, Daria Nicolodi
written and directed by Dario Argento
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. Dario Argento is a stylist and a fan who pays attention. His films are shrines to Hitchcock in the way that Tarantino's are shrines to grindhouse exploitation: imitations that transcend imitation by understanding what made the originals work. Argento's movies invite you to engage with them at a meta-level to appreciate them intellectually, yet are so engaging on a visceral level that it's hardly a requirement. At their best, they're phantasmagorias mashing up stuff like Cornell Woolrich, Mickey Spillane, and Edgar Wallace with Antonioni and, of course, Hitchcock. At their worst, Argento's films either perilously discard the gialli pillars that provide touchstones for him in favour of gothic horror (his truly abominable takes on Phantom of the Opera and Dracula), or desperately try to recapture old glory (The Card Player, Sleepless, and, alas, Mother of Tears).