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The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

(L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo)
Italy/West Germany 1970. Dir: Dario Argento. 98 min. DCP

“A smart, cosmopolitan, thoroughly modern whodunit.”
JAMIE GRAHAM, TOTAL FILM

4K RESTORATION! A box-office smash in Italy and abroad, the terrifically terrifying directorial debut of Dario Argento ignited a ’70s craze for giallo cinema — an Italian breed of high-style, high-body-count murder mysteries first attributed to splatter guru Mario Bava — while laying the groundwork for a new breed of horror films in America: the slasher! A loose (and uncredited) adaptation of Fredric Brown’s novel The Screaming Mimi, the Rome-set thriller tracks the investigation of a Yankee writer and would-be sleuth who becomes obsessed with — and yep, embroiled in — a spree of grisly murders after witnessing a hooded figure stab a woman in an art gallery. The dizzying POV camerawork (by legendary Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro) implicates the viewer as both killer and victim, taking a page from modern-horror textbooks Psycho and Peeping Tom. The black-gloved, knife-wielding assailant would become a mainstay of the subgenre. Ennio Morricone composed the haunting score.


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REVIEWS

“Arguably Argento’s most Hitchcockian venture . . . Thematic comparisons to Psycho are perhaps unavoidable though Argento’s visual stylings are most certainly his own.”

Slant Magazine | full review