Dario Argento is a famous Italian director who began his career as a film critic. He has concentrated almost exclusively on the 'giallo' (Italian for 'yellow'), a genre named for the yellow coloured paperback novels, which followed the suspense tradition of hardboiled American detective fiction while incorporating baroque scenes of violence and excess. While Mario Bava is credited with inventing the 'giallo' film, Argento's obsession with developing the genre has earned him widespread recognition as an 'auteur' director.
His works always include a profusion of allusions (both obscure and obvious) to other films, literature ranging from the Greek classics to current popular novels, politics, film/literary theory, as well as his own films. Argento's dense network of allusions, combined with his notorious negligence of plot, his bizarrely detailed mise-en-scenes, his obsession with gore-filled death scenes, and his unpredictable and roaming camera angles, has proven particularly resistant to critical interpretation. Little 'serious' academic work on Argento has been published; the two most notable publications on Argento is Maitland McDonagh's auteur study, "Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento", and a collection of poster art and critical essays, edited by Chris Gallant and entitled "Art of Darkness". While critical work on Argento is unfortunately limited (and often out of print), he has acquired a cult fan base in Italy and the rest of the world; film reviews and interviews are regular subjects of interest in fanzines and internet discussion groups. One significant factor in Argento's lack of recognition in the United States is the generic boundaries which do not recognize the 'giallo' form -- his films are often marketed as "slasher trash" or simply "horror", only occasionally making the art house or college cinema circuits.