Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 30: Opera

Well, ladies and gentlemen.  It has arrived: Day 30 of the month of gialli.

It has been a long, arduous journey, filled with some great surprises and some nights that tested my butt-cheek fortitude.  But I did it.  30 gialli in 30 days.

So what did I choose to close out the month?

Opera.  By that great maestro of gialli: Dario Argento.

The plot revolves around Betty, a young understudy who gets her big break after an opera diva is hit by a car.  Betty's breakthrough role?  None other than the female lead in an Verdi's rendition of The Scottish Play.

I'm a thespian.  If I say the name of the play, I have to spit, cuss, and turn around three times.  And if I spit on the floor, I think my mom would have a shit conniption.

After Betty's triumphant debut, some sicko ties her up and kills her lover.  And here's the kicker: He taped needles under her eyes so she has to watch every single moment of it.  If she closes her eyes, the needles will tear her eyes apart.

The killer frees her, only to continue to toy with her and kill those around her.

It's been too long since I last saw this film.  I totally forgot how great it is.

I mean, I always held it in high regard, but this film packs more of a wallop than I remembered. Merely the taping of the needles under Betty's eyes would have made this film memorable.  But there's so much extra.  The sheer brutality of the murders, the psychosexual themes, the twitching brain (if ever there were a need for an interrobang, it would be here), the autobiographical character in the horror movie director turned opera director.

And the ravens.  Oh, man.  The ravens.

Interesting thing I thought about while revisiting this movie.  The use of the ravens in this film builds upon some ideas Dario touched on in his previous film, Phenomena.  The ravens ultimately uncover the identity of the killer, much like the fly leading Jennifer Connelly to the killer's lair.  Strange how I hadn't thought of that until recently.

There are a couple of stumbles, however.  First off, the soundtrack.  Claudio Simonetti did compose some lovely, lyrical themes for the film, but the murders are scored by heavy metal music.  The same thing happened with Phenomena.  Simonetti's compositions for both films rank among my favorite musical works associated with Dario's films, but the heavy metal just throws things off.  The thing that baffles me, however, is how some Argentophiles feel the metal music works better in Opera than in Phenomena.  I've always thought the opposite.  But more on that at a later time.

The second stumble lies in the final final ending, set in the Swiss mountains.  While there is nothing wrong with the ending itself, it belongs to a completely different film...a sequel to Phenomena, perhaps?

That said, Opera is still a fantastic film that every self respecting giallo fan...heck, even overall horror fan, needs to check out.

In upcoming posts, I will have more giallo reviews, a write up of my palette cleanser (Inglourious Basterds, voted for by you), and reflections on this past month.

As for right now, I'm spent.  It's been a great journey.  Thanks for taking it with me.



  1. its been great- and opera, yes, wow opera, so many great little moments and some outstanding cinematography! the crows swirling around that theatre or the demise of daria nicolodi, all truly incredible,a masterpiece and a milion miles from incompetent shit like The Bloodsucker Leads the dance and other bottom drawer gialli :)

  2. ooo and my review of Opera is here:

    and I also noted the Phenomena/Opera similarity - its definitely in there isn't it

  3. Opera has so many set pieces in it, yet it manages to stay consistent. Every time I watch it I appreciate it more.