Although, to the uninitiated, the frequently used analogy "the Italian Hitchcock" may offer a quick and tidy summation of director Dario Argento's enduring career, this overused comparison ultimately fails to give Argento due credit for his undeniable originality and natural talent as a filmmaker. His often disturbing and horrific films possess a transcendent visual beauty that, in addition to carrying the flame for such Italian cinematic legends as Mario Bava, combines with his talent for weaving supremely menacing mysteries to create waking celluloid nightmares that burn themselves into the audience's psyche.
Born in Rome to prolific Italian film producer Salvatore Argento and fashion model Elda Luxardo, it was obvious from the beginning that young Dario was meant for a career in the film industry. Though, by all accounts, he led a relatively normal childhood, it was his early years that found the future director developing a marked fascination with dark fantasy. Inspired by the works of the Brothers Grimm and Edgar Allan Poe, it wasn't long before young Argento's vivid imagination began to run wild. Argento became a critic for Rome's Paese Sera while still a Catholic high school student, and, feeling restricted by having to critique the films of others, he decided to put his knowledge to good use by writing a screenplay. After gaining his initial writing credits with a handful of Westerns and crime dramas in the mid- to late '60s, a collaboration with Bernardo Bertolucci and Sergio Leone resulted in the classic Once Upon a Time in the West and began to open many doors for the ambitious young screenwriter.