Alfred Hitchcock's Humor Influenced Dario Argento Just As Much As His Horror

Alfred Hitchcock will forever be remembered for his horror, but every good Hitch fan knows that the world-famous director also had a wicked sense of humor. The Italian filmmaker Dario Argento was inspired by Hitch's talent for hilarity as well as suspense. Because of Hitchcock, Argento understood that every good horror film has a healthy dose of humor in it as well. The director adopted Hitchcock's style so well that he even earned the nickname "the Italian Hitchcock" from the New York Times.

Just like Hitchcock, Argento's comedic sensibility is very twisted and singular. They both found comedy in the macabre, and their work strikes a very particular tone. Both filmmakers handled incredibly dark subjects, like murder, with levity. Take for example Hitchcock's "Rope," which centers around a murderous duo often in the throes of comedic bickering. Argento, too, sprinkles lots of unsettling yet hilarious moments in his 1975 film "Deep Red." One such scene is found towards the end of the film when one of the murder suspects is found dangling from an inattentive garbageman's truck, impaled by its hook.

The similarities between Argento and Hitchcock are no accident. The Italian filmmaker took direct inspiration from Hitch in making his own work. When shooting "Dracula 3D," Argento used Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder," also shot in 3D, as inspiration to give the shots more dimension (per Argento was also influenced by Hitchcock's comedic sensibility. "In terms of humor, I'm inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, who has a lot of humor in his films," he revealed to Vulture.

Argento liked refined British comedy

Hitchcock's hilarity gave Argento a tonal framework for his films. "I like that kind of British humor; it's a very refined sort of humor," he explained. "I want the humor in my movies to be like that, kind of classy. Not the kind of humor that is about a funny line or quip here and there." A more understated and less punctuated sense of humor is notably British, in contrast to the very punchy style found in Hollywood comedies.

Argento has a celebrated sense of humor not only in his films but in person, too. "He's as funny as a young boy trying to make twisted jokes. I always loved his energy," the French filmmaker Gaspar Noé told Roger "When he introduces his films in film festivals or at different cinemas, he does monologues that can last one hour without getting any questions and people laugh and applaud. He seemed to me like a natural-born comedian."

The Italian director might take inspiration from Hitchcock, but he takes a very different approach to his actors. When Vulture asked how he would direct his actors before a more particularly funny scene, Argento replied, "You know, I didn't give them many instructions. Those scenes came out as they were written." This is a far cry from Hitchcock's approach. The master of suspense had a reputation for giving very little creative freedom to actors. He once said that "the majority of actors ... are stupid children" and, unlike Argento, he put very little trust in them (via Hitchcock/Truffaut).

They may not be alike in every way, but Argento and Hitchcock definitely share a dark sense of humor. Hitch's signature charm and suspense have influenced the entire horror genre, but Argento's work truly does justice to the OG.