Dario Argento gets a retrospective at Metrograph NYC
Updated: Jul 24
In honor of Metrograph's Argento retrospective in New York City, I am featuring now-and-then location photos from some of his most iconic films.
Horror maestro Dario Argento had been set to appear at Metrograph's retrospective, but the retrospective had to be postponed from June to the end of September due to Argento's health issues. In September the director was still unable to travel, but he sent a heartfelt video message to all of his fans, and of course we still have the privilege of seeing his films at one of the best venues in the city.
While I've never met the director, I've been lucky to know people he's worked with and visit locations from some of his most iconic films in Torino and Rome. I spent seven summers in Torino, so today let's start with Profondo Rosso/Deep Red.
There may be some practical reasons for the use of Torino as a backdrop for his films —
The director sites Torino, Italy, as one of his favorite cities, and has said he considers Torino to be good luck because his first internationally successful film, Profondo Rosso/Deep Red, was made in Torino. However, Deep Red was not the first film he made in Torino. Cat O' Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet — both made in the very early 1970s before Deep Red in 1975 — heavily featured the city of Torino. There may be some practical reasons for the use of Torino as a backdrop for his films:
Although Torino is a fairly large city, it isn't heavily trafficked by tourists making it easier to shoot a film.
After World War II, modern buildings were erected between older ones allowing for some sleek, sophisticated settings.
Across the Po River, a wealthy area known as the "collina" or hills is known for its stunning villas. This area provides settings that look more like modern neighborhoods to an international audience. In truth, most Italians live in apartment buildings and the very wealthy live in townhouses or villas — like Villa Scott featured in Deep Red.
Teatro Carignano, located in Piazza Carignano, is where Helga Ulmann performs a demonstration of her psychic abilities and senses a killer in the audience.
(Above) The entrance to Teatro Carignano, one of the oldest opera houses in Italy, is pictured on the left between the two awnings
The first time I went to Torino I was very surprised to see how small
Deep Red Square really is. Argento photographs spaces and architecture
as though he were letting them speak to us. When we see Marcus (David Hemmings) in the square conversing with Carlo moments before Helga Ulmann's murder, it looks and feels larger and more ominous than it is in real life.
Side bar - Deep Red Square is actually called CLN Square. It's a little square directly behind Piazza San Carlo. At the foot of Piazza San Carlo are two churches. The backs of these two churches are part of CLN square. There is a walkway between them. On the left there is a statue of a man who represents the River Po, and on the right a statue of a woman representing the river Dora — both vital to the city of Turin. The acronym CLN is derived from the National Liberation Committee, which was formed at the end of Italy's fascist dictatorship. During the German occupation in World War II, the square was known for hosting the headquarters of the German Gestapo.
The first time I went to Torino I was very surprised to see how small Deep Red Square really is. Argento photographs spaces and architecture as though he were letting them speak to us.
During the German occupation in World War II, the square was known for hosting the headquarters of the German Gestapo.
David Hemmings, as Marcus, left of the statue, and Carlo on the right.
The twin churches at the foot of Piazza San Carlo. CLN square, or Deep Red Square, is directly behind them. Walk between the two churches, and facing the back of each church are the statues of Po and Dora.
The square in 2009
Note in both images how the length of each statue feels much shorter, even with these pictures shot at an angle, compared to the length in the shot above from the film.
Right The statue of Dora in 2009
Left of the statue of Po is a small street. The first apartment window is where Marcus witnesses Helga's murder.
Photo from Argento Tour Locations Torino.
Tour director Davide Della Nina stands at the window where Helga is murdered in Deep Red. Davide runs a very special tour once a year in Torino, Italy, taking fans to locations from Argento's films. For more information click on the link.
The urbanization of the Turin hill dates back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, characterized by noble and upper-middle-class villas. The villa was built by Turin-born Pietro Fenoglio in 1902 and commissioned by Alfonso Scott who was the CEO of an automotive company. After his death, the villa was run by Sisters of the Redemption, who used it as a college for women. The villa was under the Sisters' ownership at the time Deep Red was filmed. Apparently Argento paid for the Sisters' vacation while he used Villa Scott as the location for "The House of the Screaming Child" in Deep Red. In 2000 Villa Scott became a private residence. You can rent a room facing Villa Scott through Air BnB for $144 per night. Check the link here
Correction - the Air BnB listing is for a room with a view of Villa Scott and not for rent at Villa Scott as previously reported.
Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I is the bridge that runs across the Po River and directly into the "collina" district — the location of Villa Scott and several other Argento locations.
The villa was run by Sisters of the Redemption, who used it as a college for women. It was under the Sisters' ownership at the time Deep Red was filmed. Argento paid for the Sisters' vacation while he used Villa Scott as the location for "The House of the Screaming Child" in Deep Red.
Villa Scott — The House of the Screaming Child in the film Deep Red.
Enjoy the trailer for Deep Red. Metrograph's retrospective on Dario Argento runs through October 10.