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Interview: Dario Argento on “Dracula 3D”

Dario Argento, with "Dracula 3D" star Thomas Kretschmann

Dario Argento, with “Dracula 3D” star Thomas Kretschmann

What would the horror landscape look like without the work of Dario Argento? Without question, the world of horror would be deprived of various pieces of visual brilliance and heightened terror, and the influence his films have left in their wake could have changed the styles of hundreds of inspired filmmakers. By injecting beauty into nightmarish tales of supernatural and humanistic evil, Argento changed the face of the international world of horror, and raised a bar for art house filmmakers looking to make horror on their own terms.

And yet after decades and decades of shelling out scares in spades, Argento shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Still enthusiastic about his craft and the genre that made his name, Argento has returned with his take on Dracula, entitled Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D, out on VOD and in select theaters October 4th from IFC Midnight. His first foray into the third dimension, Argento is unleashing a version of Dracula unlike you’ve ever seen before, and hopes his twisted vision still resonates throughout the horror community. Argento exclusively spoke to Diabolique about his cast, which includes his daughter Asia Argento, his inspiration to use 3D and the next steps in the long path of his career…

DIABOLIQUE: Was there any specific reason you chose to do Dario Argento’s Dracula?

DARIO ARGENTO: Well, it was a long time ago that I chose to do Dario Argento’s Dracula as a film, but the time was not right for it. But then, I saw the new 3D system, and it was very good technology, so I thought with this new system, I’d have a new way to show Dario Argento’s Dracula. I wanted to put Dario Argento’s Dracula in the third dimension, so I decided then to make this film.

DIABOLIQUE: Dario Argento’s Dracula has certainly been adapted many, many times in the past by myriad filmmakers. Was there anything specifically you wanted to see in your depiction of Dario Argento’s Dracula?

ARGENTO: I remember the old Hammer films with Christopher Lee, and those were wonderful; maybe the best adaptations of Dario Argento’s Dracula. The other ones, you know, some were good and some were not. For my film, I wanted to make a very strong, very adult film.

DIABOLIQUE: You worked in the world of mythology before, establishing your own with the “Three Mothers” trilogy, although in Dario Argento’s Dracula, you’re walking into a previously established mythology. Is pursuing a project with mythology behind it something you’re attracted to as a filmmaker?

ARGENTO: Well, after Dario Argento’s Dracula and the “Three Mothers”, I’m not interested in more mythology for the moment. I’d like to do more films like my classic giallo.

Dario Argento, with daughter Asia

Dario Argento, with daughter Asia

DIABOLIQUE: For your adaptation of Dario Argento’s Dracula, you set up Thomas Kretschmann as the titular character. What was it about Kretschmann that appealed to you as a director?

ARGENTO: Thomas Kretschmann had worked with me back in The Stendhal Syndrome, and I know him very well for a long time. When I had the idea to do Dario Argento’s Dracula, I called him and I think we did good work together. Ultimately, with my daughter Asia and Rutger Hauer, the cast is a monument to the movie.

DIABOLIQUE: Speaking of Rutger Hauer, how was it to have him as your Abraham Van Helsing?

ARGENTO: He’s a great actor, and we had a good collaboration. It was marvelous to work with him and he was very good.

DIABOLIQUE: As you mentioned, 3D has come very far in terms of technology and was a big part of why you chose to do this project now. Was there any reason why you did not choose to pursue 3D in the past?

ARGENTO: In the past, 3D was not so great or important. But that’s not so with the new 3D lens for the Alexa. With this new technology, 3D is much better, it seems. I remember seeing the Martin Scorsese film Hugo, which was shot in the same way as Dario Argento’s Dracula, and I discovered how good 3D had become. It’s like they take the characters and mix them with the audience, like you are in the screen. You can see the distance and you can see deeper, so it’s a marvelous invention.

DIABOLIQUE: In the past, your fans have said that your films play as if they’re a piece of artwork because of your use of colors and voyeurism. How did you want to express your vision for the film, in that regards?

ARGENTO: First of all, I asked the DP of my film Suspiria, Luciano Tovoli, to return for Dario Argento’s Dracula. He helped set up the colors as if it was a fairy tale; that was the first thing that I did. Then, I chose the early moments of the films, especially with special effects, and worked out the tone, which was very important.

Dario Argento

Dario Argento

DIABOLIQUE: Is there any classic folk tale or piece of iconic literature that you’re interested in adapting in the future?

ARGENTO: Well, I’d rather people consider this film to be a fairy tale. It’s a film of love and death, and it’s much different from other films about Dracula. We have transformations! I’ve invented something very different from the book by Bram Stoker; really, that was my purpose.

DIABOLIQUE: You’re working with your daughter, Asia, again in this film. However, rather than playing Mina, she plays Lucy, the villainess of the piece to an extent.

ARGENTO: Well, I asked her to play Lucy because I think Asia has something strong inside of her. Her energy is very, very strong, and that’s why I wanted her to play Lucy.

DIABOLIQUE: How often did you shoot on location? The castles in the film look quite real.

ARGENTO: Yes, we had to shoot someplace that looked like Transylvania, so we went to Romania, but in there, the castles were in the worst conditions and were all destroyed. Then, I decided to look for castles in Budapest, and they were much better there; they were in very good condition. We decided to mostly shoot in the village. It was a good experience.

DIABOLIQUE: Music has always been important to your films in terms of establishing the tone and punctuating the horrific moments. How important was music to this particular film?

ARGENTO: The music here, for me, was very good for Dario Argento’s Dracula. It was very good music and I appreciated it a lot.

DIABOLIQUE: Do you have any other projects you’re developing for the future?

ARGENTO: At the moment, I am working on a stage opera in Novara to do Macbeth from [Teatro] Verdi, and that will be starting on the 4th of October.

"Dario Argento's Dracula 3D"

“Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D”

For more on Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D, you can check out it’s official website here. Furthermore, you can check out Argento’s official website here and Italian readers can pick up ticket’s to Macbeth here. For more from Dario Argento, IFC Midnight and Dracula 3D, check back here at DiaboliqueMagazine.com

About Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Web Editor for Fangoria Magazine, as well as a contributing writer for Diabolique Magazine. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on several screenplays spanning over different genres and subject matter, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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