View Full Version : My thoughts on THE STENDAHL SYNDROME (you’re not going to like them…)

04-23-2003, 04:26 PM
I haven’t seen Dario Argento’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA yet…I’ve basically avoided it after reading plenty of comments from you guys on this site that it is by far his worst movie. But until I do get a chance to see PHANTOM, I must nominate this misfired psychological thriller for 1st place on Argento’s Worst List. Even PHENOMENA was better than this…

The “Stendahl Syndrome” is supposedly an existing psychological condition whereby a person is so overwhelmed by a work of art that he (in this case, she) becomes completely disorientated, even amnesiac. Dario's daughter Asia (ASS-E-UH) is Anna Manni, a rookie detective in Rome who wanders into a museum, suffers the title condition, and becomes the obsession of serial rapist-murderer Alfredo Grossi (Thomas Kretschmann), who likes punching his victims in the face while fucking them, before shooting them in the head (more misogynistic thrills from the King of the Women Haters). Anna is kidnapped and raped not once but twice by Grossi, even “kissed” with a razor blade, but fights back the 2nd time and seemingly kills her assailant. Afterwards, Anna dons a bad blond wig, becomes obsessed herself with blood and rough sex, and alienates her detective boyfriend Marco by having an affair with a handsome French art student. Meanwhile, the murders begin anew…

Fans of Argento will find little to satisfy them here…other than a couple of interesting artistic sequences (one where Anna walks into and out of a painting in her hotel room; the other inside a car where she witnesses the brutal rape-murder of a woman who is shot through the mouth - we see the bullet enter/exit in slow-motion, the killer then looks at Anna through the holes in the woman’s cheeks), STENDAHL is mostly two hours of boredom and bad acting. What really is the “Stendahl Syndrome”? What causes it to occur in Anna? What really is going on inside her head? When she swallows a pill early on in the film, why does the camera follow it down her throat?! Those of us who are fans of Argento are used to casting aside logic and sense and story in favor of his style and color and sheer terrifying thrills but even those are in short supply here…

We’re introduced to this “restored Director’s cut” DVD of STENDAHL by Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Films strolling through a sleazy NYC neighborhood with mike and hand-held camera(man), who makes a point of telling us that our star is one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world. Immediately on the defensive after such a subjective statement, I found myself muttering out loud as the opening credits rolled “maybe so, but has she learned how to act yet?” The answer, sadly, is still NO…

04-23-2003, 09:57 PM
A good review Rock, but I have to say that I really liked Stendahl Syndrome.

Brutal violence, rape and murder, done with some of the visual flair that Argento is known for, but less than usual.

I have only seen the Japanese Laserdisc version of the movie, but I would certainly think that it would be the same as the American Uncut version.

Maybe I should give the DVD a watch and see if I still like the movie.

04-24-2003, 02:03 AM
Eh I really like this movie. A bunch of people are going to tell you that you "didn't get it", but I won't make that accusation. I'm sure Paff will come along like clockwork to save this flick though.

04-24-2003, 03:00 AM
I really enjoyed this movie and had no complaints except for maybe the cheap looking computer animation at the beginning.

hell ya!
04-24-2003, 04:56 AM
I also enjoyed this flick. The first time i saw it i was not all that impressed but the second time i really liked it.

04-24-2003, 08:04 AM
really boring and dark, worth a viewing only for the sadistic nature

04-24-2003, 05:12 PM
I am totally reserving judgement on this film. I have the Troma disc, and the transfer SUCKS. It's muddy, soft, and lights have a haze around them. And then you have all the Troma shit that made me do nothing but hate them.

I also bought the piece of shit UK version. Full screen, and some cuts. But guess what - I actually PREFER to watch the UK version because the colors are far better - and prove beyond a doubt that the Troma transfer is crapola.

When someone releases a good version (And dragon in Gemrnay and planning to do just that) then I'll pay again for this film.

04-25-2003, 02:47 AM
I still don't think the Troma disc is that bad...

hell ya!
04-25-2003, 03:09 AM
Originally posted by AndrewBBD
I still don't think the Troma disc is that bad...

I agree. The picture quality is not fantastic but its still very watchable. The stupid intro is annoying but you can just fast foreward past it and all the other Troma crap you don't need to watch it if you don't want to ;)

04-25-2003, 03:26 AM
:) Having seen a different print and transfer, you'll have to trust me, the Troma disc is DIRT. Anyone know when the Dragon discs are coming?

04-25-2003, 03:41 AM
hell ya! I'm starting to think we have low standards. ZOMBIE, TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE, and now this.....:D

hell ya!
04-25-2003, 09:24 PM
LOL maybe we do :D :lol:

04-26-2003, 11:49 PM
is the Troma disc letterbox or full frame

hell ya!
04-27-2003, 12:27 AM
Its slightly letterboxed

04-27-2003, 08:29 AM
Stendahl Syndrome. This is a tough one for me. I can't say that I thought there was anything wrong with it (shitty CGI aside), but it just didn't grab me. But I come away from it feeling like I should've enjoyed it more than I did.

But a lot of Argento's work does this to me. On one hand, he's technically brilliant and audacious, but on the other I, more often than not, find the stories hollow and the characters uninvolving.

The Argento film that probably worked best for me was Phenomena. The lead actors (Donald Pleasance and Jennifer Connelly) helped pull me into the story, and it actually had a coherent plot. In many ways, it was a good melding of Argento's giallos and supernaturals.

04-27-2003, 01:49 PM
Phenomena, next to Phantom, is by far his worst movie, imho. So many people like Phenomena, I just don't get it. Still my theory that - "Everyone loves the FIRST Argento they see best" is right most of the time - and phenomena got wide distribution. It just does not do anything for me.

04-27-2003, 02:23 PM
It was my first Argento, but I didn't know that he did it when I saw it as Creepers. I'd seen stuff like Suspiria before I realized that Phenomena was Creepers. I think it's obvious that you didn't like it. You did like a three page review of all the stuff that was wrong with it. :eek2:

04-27-2003, 02:53 PM
True :p


:lol: :lol: :lol:

04-28-2003, 03:55 AM
Originally posted by dwatts
Phenomena, next to Phantom, is by far his worst movie, imho. So many people like Phenomena, I just don't get it. Still my theory that - "Everyone loves the FIRST Argento they see best" is right most of the time - and phenomena got wide distribution. It just does not do anything for me.

My first five Argento films:

1. Two Evil Eyes. Saw this on HBO about ten years ago. It was before I really knew who Argento was; I knew Romero from his Dead films, but only knew Argento as some weird European guy. This was before the 'net and before DVD, so I hadn't really been exposed to a lot of obscure movies and directors. The only selection of video rentals I had to choose from was Blockbuster and a couple of grocery stores with video departments. I can't really remember a lot about the movie, and didn't really have much of a reaction to it. The only thing I can remember was that one of the segments involved a cat.

2. Started hearing people rave about Argento, so I rented "Phantom of the Opera" -- the only Argento DVD available for rental in my area (which is, by the way, the ass-end of civilization). And I fucking hated that movie with a passion.

3/4. Deep Red and Inferno. Deep Red wasn't bad, but it's not my favorite movie by any stretch. I picked these two up because I got good pre-order deals on them and got them for about eight bucks a piece. My major gripes were that I didn't really like any of the characters, and an undercurrent of homophobia and misogyny that seemed to run through it (but I can sort of forgive that, since it was from the 70s). The plot seemed to function only to piece together a bunch of set-pieces.

Inferno. I really didn't like this at all. Pretty much incomprehensible. I liked the atmosphere, direction, and cinematography, but the story was pretty much shit, the characters were dull and the acting wooden.

5. Phenomena. Easily my favorite of the first five, despite it being the last one I saw. Better acting, better story, and in many ways, more of a traditional horror film than the rest. (Ordered this around the same time as Deep Red and Inferno, but received it a week later.)