Saturday, 11 October 2014

Dario Argento and Iggy Pop seek funding for The Sandman

Italian horror maestro Dario Argento and punk-rock icon Iggy Pop are using the crowd-funding site Indiegogo in an attempt to fund new horror film, The Sandman. Based on the terrifying 1816 short story Der Sandmann by German romantic writer ETA Hoffmann, and adapted by writer David Tully especially for Argento, The Sandman looks set to revisit some familiar Argento troupes. The story tells of Nathan, a college student who suffered a terrifying childhood experience when he witnessed the death of his mother at the hands of a masked serial killer nicknamed The Sandman (Iggy Pop), due to his tendency to remove his victims’ eyes as trophies. Years later, when Nathan witnesses the gruesome death of a beautiful young woman in the apartment opposite his, he believes The Sandman has returned from the grave to instigate another brutal killing spree...

Iggy Pop has stated: "Dario and I want to make the film that we want to make, our way, and that means going direct to the people who have responded to our work for all these years. With your help, Mr Argento can make this movie his way, the way that you and I appreciate and respect; and what the world needs so much right now: a good, artistic, Gothic, terrifying scare." Freudian serial killers, voyeurism and eye violation feature heavily throughout Argento’s films, and serve as a neat encapsulation not only of his film work, but the shocking experience of watching it. Argento has confirmed the script is "a kind of tribute to my movies and my whole career."

According to Germanic folklore, The Sandman brings dreams to children by sprinkling magical sand into their eyes while they sleep. This depiction of the character was subverted to terrifying effect by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann in his short story Der Sandmann, a richly textured and harrowing tale which abounds with psychoanalytical readings and the Jungian notion that sleep equals a denial of life; therefore the state of unconsciousness is an invitation to death. According to the protagonist's nurse, The Sandman steals the eyes of children who won’t go to sleep, and feeds them to his monstrous offspring in an iron nest upon the moon. The young protagonist soon begins to associate this creature of nightmares with a highly sinister nightly visitor of his father’s, the possibly murderous Coppelius…

Children screaming bloody murder (Deep Red, 1975)

Eye violation (Opera, 1987)

The Wicked Witch is dead (the fairytale-like Suspiria, 1977) 

David Tully wrote the script to pay homage to Argento’s classic gialli of yesterday. Penned while he was in Dubai writing Djinn for Tobe Hooper, Tully "sat down, at 130 Fahrenheit outside, to dream of a snowy village during a cold snap" (the original title of the script) in which a serial killer wreaks bloody havoc and steals the eyes of his victims. Amalgamating his love of ETA Hoffmann’s short story, which has given him nightmares since childhood, and Dario Argento’s fiendishly violent giallo films of the Seventies, Tully has fashioned a script that could really help Argento return to his roots, and former glory, as a director of stylish and provocative horror cinema.

Hoping as they are to secure $250,000 (£155,000) for the project, you may well be thinking why on earth Iggy Pop and Dario Argento, who are probably not short of a few quid, are utilising crowd-funding. This is perhaps indicative of the sad state of Italian cinema and how funding for the arts there continues to suffer tremendously. While Argento is perhaps the only horror director still working in Italy today who is able to somehow gain funding and distribution for his work, he still really struggles to do so. Late last year, a group of renowned Italian horror directors struggling to get cinematic projects off the ground, including Sergio Martino, Lamberto Bava, Luigi Cozzi, Ruggero Deodato and Aldo Lado – directors whose work, like Argento's, has inspired countless contemporary genre filmmakers - grouped together to seek crowd-funding for a new project; horror anthology The Book. Another important thing that has no doubt encouraged Argento and Pop to seek crowd-funding is that it should, as Iggy Pop mentioned, guarantee they’ll be able to make the film they want to make, without any sort of interference. This sort of artistic freedom is vital, when too many filmmakers are nowadays forced to crumble beneath the pressure of studio execs who insist their work must be commercially viable. Argento hopes to shoot on location in Ontario, Canada, in 2015 – which would make this one of only a few of his films shot outside his native Italy.


As with all crowd-funding projects, a range of incentives have been offered to encourage people to donate. These perks range from a month’s membership of the cult film streaming site Fandor (for donating $5), to the opportunity of being directed by Argento himself in a key scene opposite Iggy Pop ($25,000). Just imagine; the chance to be killed by Dario Argento - something that probably doesn’t happen every day...

For further information, and to keep up to date with how the project is advancing, head over to Indiegogo.

4 comments:

Ralf said...

Perhaps this could turn out to be Argento's great comeback? I would hope so.

Ralf said...

What concerns me about the crowdfunding thing is all those perks that must be provided to whomever throws in a dime. Old Dario will end up suffering an aneurysm for having to distribute all that stuff around to each supporter.

Ralf said...

By the way, has Argento often not been able to make the kind of movie he wanted? I can understand that kind of frustration when it comes to American filmmakers who are often harrassed by censors and producers, but seeing that Argento is an Italian filmmaker, and looking at his body of work, I find it hard to believe it has been a big issue for him throughout his career... of course, I don't know much about the inner-workings of Italian cinema or the backgrounds of each specific film of Argento's...

James Gracey said...

With every new Argento film, I always hope that there will be some sort of return to form. That said, I do believe Sleepless is highly underrated, and Giallo, while not great, wasn't entirely deserving of the slating it received.
I think more often than not, Argento has made the kind of films he has wanted to make - certainly early on in his career. Sadly though, as is the case with most genre filmmakers in Italy, due to cuts in arts funding, it has become more of a struggle to produce films and get them distributed outside Italy.