I first saw Asia in her father's 2012, "DRACULA 3-D", aka: "Argento's Dracula 3-D", which I have a copy, and her father's 1998, "PHANTOM OF THE OPERA". More recently, I saw Asia Argento on American television, in 2002's, "XXX", as "Yelena". Where she steals the picture from Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson.
I admit to being a fan of her father, but "Yelena" got this film buff looking into her story and this small blog article was my result.
This is an overview of Asia Argento's motion picture and television acting, writing and directing. IF my reader is looking for the sensationalism of the actresses sex scandals. You've come to the wrong article.
Above "Yelena" from 2002's, "XXX".
JUST A TOUCH OF ASIA'S EARLY LIFE
Aria Maria Vittoria Rossa Argento was born in Roma, Italia, on September 20, 1975. Apparently, the City Registry in Rome has a power over names. Aria's original first name was "Asia", pronounced "AH-zee-ah", but they considered it inappropriate and it was changed to "Aria".
Asia's father, as I've already mentioned, is Italian film maker, Dario Argento. Who during the 1970's and 1980's, became Internationally known for his films in the Italian "Giallo" genre of "Thriller-Horror" movies. Two of his classics are, 1970's, "L'ucello dalle piume di cristallo ( The Bird with the Crystal Plumage)" and 1977's "Suspiria".
For those interested in Asia's father's work. My article, "Dario Argento and Mario Bava: Two Italian Masters", can be read at:
Asia's mother was Italian actress and screenplay writer, Daria Nicolodi.
ON-SCREEN BEGINNINGS 1985 to 1993
At the age of nine, Asia, portrayed the role of "Gloria", in part two entitled, "Il ritorno di Guerriero (The Return of the Warrior)", in the Italian television mini-series, "Sogni e bisogni (Dreams and Needs)". Which was first shown, after her 10th birthday, on October 13, 1985. I mention this, because some sites list the next feature as Asia Argento's first on-screen appearance and technically, if they are referring too motion pictures only, they would be correct.
On October 9, 1986, Director Lamberto Bava, the son of Mario Bava, released in Italy, "Demoni 2...l'incubo ritorna (Demons 2, The Nightmare Returns)". Asia Argento had 5th billing as "Ingrid Haller". The screenplay, co-written by her father, the film's producer, takes off at the point the first film ended. As a group of teenagers enter a deserted city and find the corpse of one of the original "Demons". When one of the group gets cut on his hand, the dripping blood will bring the Demon back to life and start the cycle all over.
Above, the young Asia Argento and below, a Demon coming out of the television screen one of the teenage girls is watching. Of course, she becomes the next Demon.
The feature was followed by an appearance on another mini-series and then starring in the family film, "Zoo". Which is about a girl living in a zoo with her father, the zoo's permanent caretaker, and her adventure with a runaway boy.
Another of Dario Argento's produced Horror entries, that he co-wrote, followed. What can be more comforting than---
LA CHIESA (THE CHURCH) released in Italy on March 10, 1989
The film was Directed by Michael Soavi. Who had served as Second Assistant Director to Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava was the First Assistant Director. Soavi, also worked as Assistant Director to Terry Gilliam on 1988's, "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen". Michael Soavi was also the Director of Special Effects for both Gilliam and Argento.
"The Church" was Soavi's first solo Directed feature film, and it was originally planned as the third entry in the "Demoni" series, but Soavi's rewrote the screenplay, and it became an International Box Office hit.
Asia Argento had 7th billing as "Lotte", the daughter of the man charged with the care of the church and its contents. "
In medieval Germany, a band of Teutonic Knights massacre an entire village of devil worshipers. They bury the bodies and over the graves a Gothic Cathedral is built. In present day the new church librarian, "Evan" arrives, meets "Lisa", who is supervising the restoration of the church's frescoes, the kindly "Father Gus" and the surly "Bishop".
"Lisa" discovers a hidden compartment with an ancient parchment in it. She shows it to "Evan", that night the two go to her apartment and "Evan" produces the parchment he took with him. On the parchment, "Evan" has discovered ancient Latin text referring to a "Stone with Seven Eyes". Also on the parchment, is what appears to be a strange schematic of the church. The following day, "Evan" follows the schematic. He finds a seal on the floor of the cellar over a giant cross. Prying open the seal, "Evan" looks into a black void as a "Blue Light" spreads over the cross. Noticing something within the light, he pulls a sack out, opening it, hands grab "Evan" and he blacks out.
In their apartment, "Lotte", saw her father reflected as an Ape-like Demon in the mirror. Frightened, she runs out of the apartment to the church and the safety of "Father Gus". There her mind is being flooded by memories from centuries before. After seeing herself in a ancient painting on the church's wall.
Later, a group of school children will arrive at "The Church", now a thinking entity, that will trap everyone inside. As the spirits from the massacre attempt to return to life and bring back an ancient demon.
At the climax, the church and its evil are destroyed by "Father Gus", using an ancient detonation device within the body of the original architect. The church's walls and ceiling come down upon everyone, but "Lotte" is able to escape.
The film ends with "Lotte" bringing flowers to the Church ruins for the dead. A truck passes and breaks the seal once more. A "Blue Light", like "Evan" had seen, comes out of the hole in the ground, Next, "Lotte" hears the sound of ancient horses running and the movie fades out as a mysterious all-knowing smile crosses her face.
A Sports Comedy Drama, "Palombella rossa (Red Wood Pigeon)" followed in 1989.
LE AMICHE DEL CUORE (THE FRIEND OF THE HEART ) aka: "CLOSE FRIENDS" released May 14, 1992
This was an Italian Teen Drama that starred Asia Argento.
Asia portrayed "Simona", and in the above still, the film's Director, Michele Placido, portrays her father in a story about incest.
TRAUMA released in Italy on March 12, 1993
The motion picture was Produced and Directed by Dario Argento. Who also co-wrote the story and screenplay. The picture was shot in the United States in English.
Asia Argento portrayed "Aura Petrescu".
Piper Laurie portrayed "Adriana Petrescu". Laurie started out her on-screen career in 1951. Among those first films was, 1951's, "The Prince Who Was A Thief", opposite another newcomer, Tony Curtis. Ten years later, she played opposite Pau Newman and Jackie Gleason in "The Hustler" and after another fifteen years had passed. Piper Laurie was Sissy Spacek's mother in Brian DePalma's, 1976, version of Stephen King's "Carrie".
Above, Asia Argento and Piper Laurie.
"Aura Petrescu" has been committed to a psychiatric hospital supposedly suffering from severe anorexia. She is able to sneak out and the staff begin a frantic search for her. "Aura" meets a young man named "David Parsons", played by Christopher Rydell, who offers her a place to stay. However, she is soon discovered and returned to the hospital.
Now, the murders of current and past hospital staff begin. All of them having their heads cut off by a homemade garrote.
"Aura's" father "Stefan", played by Dominque Serrand, is murdered and is followed by her mother, "Adriana". "David" teams up with "Aura" to find the murderer, or is it her?
At the films conclusion the murderer turns out to be "Aura's" mother. Who had faked her murder and was taking revenge on those people she considered involved with the accidental beheading of "Aura's" brother at birth!
A Comedy Fantasy followed with the young actress with 13th billing and a music video to end 1993.
ACTING, WRITING AND DIRECTING 1994 to 2002
Asia Argento started 1994 co-starring in the Comedy "Periamoci di vista (Let's Lose Sight of It)", aka: "Let's Not Keep in Touch". Which was released in Italy on January 27, 1994. For this role, Asia, received the "Best Actress David di Donatello Award" from the "Accademia del Cinema Italiano (The Academy of Italian Cinema)".
Another music video followed and next, Asia Argento had to learn French. She appeared in the French Historical Period film, "La Reine Margot (Queen Margot)", based upon the Alexander Dumas novel of that name. In the film starring French actress Isabell Adjani in the title role. Asia portrayed "Charlotte de Sauve", who was both the mistress of "Henry of Navarre", the future "Henry IV" of France, and a spy for the French Queen Mother.
Above, Asia Argento, as "Charlotte de Sauve," passing on information to Virna Lisi, as the "Queen Mother".
DE GENERAZIONE (DE GENERATION) released in Italy during 1994
"De Generazione" is what is called a "Collective Film". In this case, made up of ten short Horror films, by ten Directors, including Asia Argento, for the segment, "Prospettive (Perspectives)". In which she also acted and wrote. Asia would appear in two other segments of the feature.
LA SINDROME DI STENDAL (THE STENDHAL SYNDROME) released in Italy on January 26, 1996
To crush those thoughts, I turn, for just a moment, to a quote by Asia. That has been repeated in one form or another in many of her interviews. This one comes from an on-line article in "Filmmaker Magazine", at:
I never acted out of ambition; I acted to gain my father's attention. It took a long time for him to notice me – I started when I was nine, and he only cast me when I was 16. And he only became my father when he was my director. I always thought it was sick to choose looking at yourself on a big screen as your job. There has to be something crooked in your mind to want to be loved by everybody. It's like being a prostitute, to share that intimacy with all those people.
Asia Argento portrays "Detective Anna Manni".
Thomas Krestschmann portrays "Alfredo Grossi". Krestschmann was born in what, at the time, was East Germany and among his motion picture roles are as,"Dasmaskinos", in 2002's, "Blade II", "Major Cain". in 2004's, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse", and "Captain Englehorn", in 2005's, "King Kong".
"Detective Manni" travels to Florence, on the trail of serial rapist and murderer, "Alfredo Grossi". While visiting a museum, "Anna Manni" is overcome by the title, "Stendhal Syndrome". The actual syndrome is caused by a person being exposed to great works of art, or objects of great beauty. Which causes a rapid heart beat, fainting and even hallucinations.
In the story, "Grossi" discovers that the detective has the syndrome and uses it against her. Kidnapping, "Anna", and subjecting her to brutal sexual attacks. She manages to escape, but now is traumatized and before "Anna" gains some sort of normalcy, "Grossi" kidnaps her a second time and repeats the torture.
However, she turns the tables on him, is able to shoot "Alfredo Grossi" and knock him into the river during a struggle. The police consider "Grossi" dead, but drag the river for his body without results.
"Anna" is now getting treatment with a psychologist, "Dr. Cavanna", played by Paolo Bonacelli, and she meets a young French man, "Marie Beyle", played by Julien Lambroschini,, and the two fall in love.
Everything seems normal again in "Anna's" life, but then the phone rings in her apartment and the supposedly dead "Grossi" is calling. Next, her boyfriend, "Marie", is found murdered.
Still oncerned about "Anna's" state of mind, "Dr. Cavanna" visits her at home. While there, the phone rings and it is a collogue of the Detective, "Marco Longhi", played by Marco Leonardi, to say that the body of "Alfredo Grossi" has finally been located and he did drown after she shot him. The phone rings again and its "Grossi".
The film ends with "Cavanna" and "Anna" coming to two conclusions. The first is that she murdered "Marie" and the second, psychologically, she has become "Alfredo Grossi" and will continue his murders.
From a technical point, "The Stendhal Syndrome", was the first Italian motion picture to use CGI technology.
A Comedy Drama entitled "Il cielo e sempre piu blu (The sky is getting bluer)" aka: "Bits and Pieces". Which was a grouping of short stories, a favorite technique of Italian cinema, about a single day in Rome, followed. Next, was a drama, entitled "Compagne de voyage (Traveling Companion)", about a young woman hired to follow a retired philosophy professor with a touch of dementia, but I couldn't find any more details about the story.
VIOLA BACIA TUTTI (VIOLA KISSES EVERYONE) released in Italy on January 23, 1998
Had this picture been made in the United States during the 1930's, it might have been called a "Screwball Comedy". Asia Argento is "Viola", who robs a bank, comes across three friends, and turns their vacation plans upside down. As they end up helping her get rid of the stolen coins with some comic results.
In the story, "Hiroshi", a super genius Japanese scientist, works for a company called "Maas". That was responsible for "Fox" becoming crippled on a mission. Now, he's out for revenge by convincing "Hiroshi" to leave "Maas".
Next, "X" retreats to the only safe place he knows, the "New Rose Hotel", and starts having delusional memories of "Sandi". Who might have been an agent of "Maas" all along, but that again is left to the viewer to decide.
To say the movie is confusing is an understatement, but to say the movie catches you, works!
Above, Willem Defoe and Asia Argento.
Michael Caton-Jones was replaced by Michael Radford. Sophie Okonedo, would be replaced by Asia Argento.
Asia Argento portrayed "Betrice/B-Monkey".
I felt I had to, because I had the movie coming out and I didn't want to anger him.
IL FANTASMA DELL'OPERA (THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) released in Italy on November 20, 1998
However, for those of my readers interested in learning about the real inspiration for Leroux and the actual phantom of the Paris Opera House. My look at the back story and every variation on-screen of the novel through 2018 is part of my article:
"THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA: Gaston Leroux On the Motion Picture and Television Screens" can be read at:
Asia Argento portrayed "Christine Daae".
Meanwhile, "Baron De Cagny" has also fallen in love with "Christine". "Christine" believes she actually loves both men.
This chandelier incident was based upon an actual event I look at in my above article.
The next night, "Christine" sings the lead role and the "Phantom" sweeps down and carries her away. When she wakes after fainting, he tells her she is his, and will remain with him until death. "Christine" now picks up a rock and hits the "Phantom" in the face, but immediately regrets her action.
"Raul" appears and shoots the "Phantom" in the stomach with a rifle, but is surprised by "Christine's" response. As she screams out a defense of the "Phantom" as all three hear the police approaching. "The "Phantom" becomes concerned that the police might harm "Christine", because they now know she's with him. He tells her and "Raul" to get into the boat beside his lake and pushes it off. While, "Christine" screams her objections, because she wants to be with him. The police arrive and immediately shoot "The Phantom of the Opera", multiple times, but he still stands defiant as "Christine Daae" cries out: "My Love".
The "Phantom" is stabbed in the back and falls into his lake to die. The rats seem to sadly watch his body sink into the lake. As "Christine" watches and quietly sobs.
Between 1994 and 1999, Asia Argento wrote and Directed three short films and then came---
THE SCARLET DIVA released in Italy on May 26, 2000
The film was Written, and Directed by its star, Asia Argento. It was co-produced by her father Dario Argento.
Asia portrayed "Anna Battisa", a semi-autographical Asia.
"Anna" is an Italian actress who hasn't found her confidence and falls into a world of sex and drugs.
"Anna" decides to become a Film Director and at one point finds herself in Los Angeles. Where, a somewhat recognizable character, played by actor Joe Coleman, kept bringing the question to Asia Argento:
Is that Harvey Weinstein?
Especially after the producer in the movie, "Mr. Paar", attempts to rape "Anna".
The picture didn't do well upon its original release, but has become a cult film.
Next, Asia Argento was cast as "Eponine Thenardier", in the French television production of Victor Hugo's classic novel, "Les Miserables". French leading man, Gerard Depardieu was cast as "Jean Valjean". While, American actor, John Malkovitch portrayed "Inspector Javert"
"Xander Gage" is an extreme sports self made, on video, star. NSA agent "Gibbons" is now thinking of dumping the normal agents and find somebody completely off the grid. To just get information on a Russian Terrorist Group called "Anarchy 99" operating in Prague, in the Czech Republic. However, things get a little more complicated and action packed.
"Xander" goes to Prague, meets "Yorgi", the leader of "Anarchy 99", and "Yelena". Whom he takes as a sexy hanger-on, but will turn out to be a Russian Agent that infiltrated "Yorgi's" group using her sexual ways.
In the French film, "Ginostra", shot in English, and starring Harvey Keitel and Andie MacDowell. Asia Argento had 13th billing as "The Nun". The actress is seen in a dream sequence in a red and purple as a volcano erupts. This is a very "Arty" Crime drama and it is extremely easy to become lost, because the small amount of dialogue is the audiences only clue to what's going on.
THE HEART IS DEEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS released May 15, 2004 at the Cannes Film Festival
The screenplay was co-written by Asia Argento who played "Sarah" and Directed the motion picture.
THE KEEPER released in the U.K. in 2004 and the United States on Video in 2006
A 2004, French made for television movie, "Milady" aka: "Milady and the Three Musketeers", told the back story of the "Lady DeWinter", from the Alexander Dumas novel. Asia Argento portrayed "Sally La Chevre". Another video appearance and a dramatic motion picture and then, Asia Argento met George Romero,
LAND OF THE DEAD released June 18, 2005
"Land of the Dead" was Written and Directed by George Romero. Prior to this feature was Romero's "Bruiser", that he also wrote and directed in 2000.
Simon Baker portrayed "Riley Denbo". Australian actor Baker was finishing his 67th episode of the television series "The Guardian" during filming.
John Leguizamo portrayed "Cholo DeMora". Leguizamo had just been seen in the 2005 remake of John Carpenter's, 1976, "Assault on Precinct 13".
Dennis Hopper portrayed "Kaufman". Hopper had just been seen in 2005's, "The Crow: Wicked Prayer".
This was an animated film by Writer and Director John Roecker and loosely based upon the murders committed by Charles Manson and his followers. The story starts out in the year 3069, when a nomad uncovers the book "Heller Skelter", by lead Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, and mistakes it for the bible.
He reads it as if the Charlie Manson character, name changed to "Charles Hanson", is the messiah and the story unfolds in flashback.
The animated movie was actually a musical with 21 songs.
For my reader interested in the real facts of the murders. My article, "The Spahn Movie Ranch, Sharon Tate, the LaBianca's and Helter Skelter" can be read at:
Voicing Abigail Folger was followed by an American, French and Japanese historical motion picture from Director and Writer Sophia Coppola.
Next, was the 2006 French drama, "Transylvania", nothing to do with "Dracula" or Vampires, followed by two videos to finish out 2006. Then another Drama and an Old Fashion Screwball Comedy, to start 2007, from Italy and the United States
GO GO TALES released May 23, 2007 shown at the Cannes, France, Film Festival
William Defoe portrayed "Ray Ruby". He had just been seen as "Norman Osborn", in 2007's. "Spider-Man 3".
Matthew Modine portrayed "Johnie Ruby". Modine had been in the forgotten, 2006, television mini-series, "The Bedford Diaries" and would follow this picture with the 2007, television series, "Weeds".
Another French drama followed and then a feature film made by Asia father.
LA TERZA MADRE (THE THIRD MOTHER) aka: "THE MOTHER OF TEARS" shown at the Toronto, Canada, International Film Festival, on September 6, 2007
Directed, co-produced and co-written by Dario Argento. Also, co-produced by Dario's young brother Claudio Argento.
This is an Italian-American Supernatural Horror Story. Which is actually the third and final installment of Dario Argento's Horror Trilogy, "The Three Mothers (Maters)". That had started with 1977's, "Suspiria", and Lela Svasta portraying "Mater Suspiriorum aka: Helena Markos". Followed by the second part, 1980's, "Inferno", with Veronica Lazar portraying "Mater Tenebrarum aka: The Nurse".
Asia Argento portrayed "Sarah Mandy".
Cristian Solimeno portrayed "Detective Enzo Marchi". He had just been seen in the 2007 television movie, "Highlander: The Source".
"Sarah" flees, but is pursued by "Mater Lachrymarum's" familiar, a baboon. Suddenly, a disembodied voice speaks, and a series of doors appear to help "Sarah" escape. While, the same doors lock "Mater Lachrymarum" and her followers inside the church. "Sarah" tells the police what happened and spends the night with "Michael Pierce" and his son.
Next, "Michael" seeks the Cardinal that sent him the box-shaped-urn and finds him in a hosptial. "Pierce" is told that the Cardinal had a stroke right after mailing the urn, cannot speak, but was able to write on a piece of paper two words, "Mater Lachrymarum". Witches from all over the World are converging upon Rome and "Michael" is observed, by two witches, as he leaves the hospital.
Suicides and murder reign in Rome and the police are confounded by them.
So begins a very typically bloody film from Italian Horror Master Dario Argento and it is up to "Sarah" to stop "Mater Lachrymarum", if she can? What is revealed, as the story progresses, is that "Sarah's" mother was a "White Witch" and so is she. The climax will be a battle of God vs Evil Witches.
DRACULA 3-D aka: ARGENTO'S DRACULA 3-D first shown at the Cannes Film Festival, in France, on May 19, 2012
The story opens with two young lovers, "Tania", played by Miriam Giovanelli, and "Milos", played by Christian Burruano, in the woods, on Walpurgis Night, near their village of Passo Borgo. The two have an argument and a mad at "Milos", "Tania", throws away the crucifix he gave her. She runs further into the woods, being chased by a supernatural Owl.
At the castle, the now vampire, "Tania", attempts to seduce "Jonathan", but "Dracula" appears. The following night, after burning his photo of "Mina", she attempts her seduction again. As "Tania" starts to go for "Harker's" neck, once again, "Dracula" arrives, throws her across the room and bites "Jonathan Harker" just enough to weaken him.
As the story continues, "Van Helsing" arrives and will kill "Tania", "Lucy", the now undead "Jonathan Harker", and "Dracula's" insane human helper, "Renfield", played by Giovanni Franzoni.
At the film's climax, "Van Helsing" goes to confront the Count, with a loaded gun containing a silver bullet covered with garlic, to save "Mina".
RODOLFO VALENTINO--LA LEGGEMDA a two part Italian television mini-series first shown on April 17th and 24th, 2014
This was a highly fictionalized biography of silent film star Rudolph Valentino.
Asia Argento had 26th billing and portrayed "Natacha Rambova" in only the first part. The real Rambova, was a dancer, set designer, costume designer, screenplay writer and spiritualist. She was Valentino's second wife.
SHONGRAM released in the U.K. on April 18, 2019
The story is pure Gothic Horror set in modern Italy. "Isodora" lives in New York and has been having visions, while sleeping, of people wearing masks at some sort of ceremony, but the last vision happened in broad daylight. Things become weirder, when she receives news that her mother has just passed away in Italy. The problem, her father told "Isodora", her mother died 30 years ago. Added to her shock from this strange information, is the fact that "Isodora" is now a "Marquesa" with a huge estate in Tuscany.
Once in Tuscany, "Isodora" finds that the estate's house is a castle, there's a family curse, she sees a spectral "Lady in Red", and of course, the local townspeople won't tell her the truth of what's going on.
Is "Isodora" just going mad?
This is Asia Argento at her best as she controls the film. There is a question about its running time. Some reviewers list the picture at either 83 minutes, or 93 minutes, others at 115 minutes. Whatever, SEE IT!
Written by Ichiei Ishibumi and illustrated by Miyama-Zero, the first story started in the September 2008, issue of "Fujimi Shobo's Dragon Magazine". The first anime version premiered January 6, 2012.
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