Dario Argento has made many celebrated films within the Giallo subgenre and his supernatural Three Mothers Trilogy. His supernatural classic Suspiria is often mistakenly classified as a Giallo. His run of films from 1970 to roughly 1987 are his most potent and most well-known works. Elaborate murder set-pieces, beautiful and distinctive actors, incredible soundtrack music, usually provided by the band Goblin, and surprising twists in the narrative as his hallmarks.

  • The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

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    The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was Dario Argento's first film as a director, and he made a great impression with this puzzling Giallo film. The sequence at the art gallery is still inventive and thrilling. You can see some of Argento's obsessions in this film. The perception of eyewitnesses, mental health and trauma, art, bizarre red herrings, and the feminine capacity for violence. It is the first film in Argento's Animal Trilogy.

  • The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971)

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    The Cat o' Nine Tails is the second film in the Animal Trilogy, and while there is no connection other than the titles, it is an exciting follow-up to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Karl Malden plays a blind former reporter, Franco "Cookie" Arnò, who is drawn into the mystery and attempts to find the killer with the help of his guide and niece, Lori. The film departs from the story of the "Bird," which leans into the detective aspect of the Giallo style. Argento will use the blind protagonist again in his filmmaking with the 2022 film Dark Glasses.

  • Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

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    In the third Animal Trilogy film, released the same year as "The Cat o' Nine Tails," a drummer is being stalked, turns the tables on the would-be killer, and kills them. The film is more similar in tone and action to The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. While Roberto Tobias, the drummer, is being taunted with the knowledge that he killed someone, he hires a detective to find the masked killer. Mimsy Farmer's performance as Roberto's wife, Nina, is excellent, and you can again see some of Argento's stylistic obsessions, red curtains, eerie childlike masks, mental illness, and surprising deaths.

  • Deep Red (1975)

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    Arguably, Dario Argento's masterpiece, Deep Red, combines many of the writer's and director's obsessions and puts them in a wonderfully sinister package. Again, the perceptions of witnesses under pressure, those red tones and curtains, child's toys with mask-like faces, mental illness, misdirection, red herrings, and excellent actors giving noteworthy and charismatic performances. David Hemmings's work as Marcus Daly, a pianist who takes on the role of detective, is marvelous, but the whole cast is memorable. There's even more of Argento's humor in Deep Red, and the film takes flight and still delivers some of the most brutal kills in his work. Goblin's soundtrack is instantly memorable and fits the film so well.

  • Tenebrae (1982)

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    Tenebrae is the film that many Dario Argento fans might alternately name as his masterpiece. Inspired by real-life threats from a fan and a fascination with the idea of someone wanting to kill for no reason, this film has more than one bravura murder set piece and another inspired bit of misdirection. There are many magnificent shots like the killer putting out a lightbulb with a straight razor and the murders of two roommates shot with a crane on two different floors of their apartment set to the pulsing central theme of the film by Goblin never fails to make an audience go wild.

  • Phenomena (1985)

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    Phenomena stretches out into different territory with the tale of Jennifer Corvino, played by Jennifer Connelly, who goes to a girl's school, and the terror begins. Jennifer does have a natural talent to help her with a killer on the loose. She is psychic and can communicate with insects. Donald Pleasance plays John McGregor, who has a chimpanzee and is an entomologist who advises Jennifer on how to find the killer. If that sounds like a bizarre setup, you have to see the rest of the film to understand how intricate and strange the entirety of the film is and how it succeeds in telling a story that isn't quite like any other.

  • Opera (1987)

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    Opera takes Dario Argento's Giallo films on another tangent. This time the film is set in Avant Garde theater, specifically an opera of Macbeth. Argento explores his foray into directing opera but with more murder. Cristina Marsillach ably plays the heroine, Betty, who is tough and unwilling to be defeated by the killer who is fascinated with her. Betty is one of Argento's best heroines. Despite coming from a dark past, she is much stronger than she appears emotionally. The film uses ravens and their memories as a delightful plot point and has the incredibly memorable imagery of the killer's use of pins to hold Betty's eyes open as she is forced to watch the murders. Supposedly, that idea came from Argento's joke about audience members who looked away during the most violent parts of his films.

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