Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi
Review by Brian M. Sammons
This isn’t my favorite Argento film. In fact, it’s not even my favorite “Three Mothers” film by Argento. But just like something else that’s wonderful and Italian, namely pizza, there is really no such thing as awful Argento because even when he’s not great he’s still pretty damn good. Such is the case here. But wait, could it be that you don’t know what Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy is? Well let’s get to that.
Back in 1977 Dario gave the world a true macabre, nightmarish masterpiece with his film, Suspira. It was giallo, black-glove fun mixed with images right out of a techno colored fever dream, with black magic aplenty and one hell of an evil witch called The Mother of Sorrow. What we all soon learned after watching that movie, other than Argento was a true maestro of horror, was that this was only the beginning of the haunting trilogy of three mothers of evil.
In 1980 Argento returned to give his evil mothers some love with Inferno. This time the story was set in New York and revolved around the youngest, but most wicked mother/sister/witch/whatever; the Mother of Darkness. However beyond that I can’t say much. I do so not only in an attempt to avoid spoilers, but also because the story was an odd combination of confusing and boring. I say boring because the story moves at a leisurely pace at best while there’s confusion mostly in the motivation of the various characters. People come to the large apartment building the evil mother is hiding in, either by accident or actively looking for the witch, and then one by one they get bumped off in creative, sometimes hilarious ways. My favorite is a woman who gets pelted with lots of real, live, angry cats, like a scene out of Hitchcock’s The Birds, except with felines. Here’s hoping they were at least declawed.
Yet as weird and slow moving as the story is, Argento’s style is in top form. The man’s use of colors, lighting, and other visual candy is simply beautiful and has to be seen to believe. In this day of directors all aping the hyper kinetic thirty-cuts-a-minuet MTV music video style of movie making, it’s nice to see a movie where the director has actual talent and tons of skill. The old phrase of “they just don’t make them like that any more” has never been clearer. That alone makes this movie mandatory viewing.
Luckily for new fright fans and old terror film lovers alike, the good people at Arrow Video in the UK have put out a truly amazing looking Blu-ray edition of this movie that really showcases Argento’s style. In addition to looking great, they add a bunch of neat-o extras to the disc. There’s a 20 minute interview with actress and screenwriter Daria Nicolodi who co-wrote Suspiria and acted in Inferno. There’s the basic 15 minute making of featurette, a 30 minute question and answer session about the movie, and the oddest, and most interesting bit; a 15 minute documentary on a movie called The Black Cat that was made in 1989 and was an “unofficial” end to the Three Mothers trilogy by another director, Luigi Cozzi. I had never heard of this film so it was nice to learn about it.
Like all Arrow Video BDs and DVDs I’ve ever seen, this one is great. Its top of the line quality with plenty of extras tossed in. There is simply nothing better out there. If you are an Argento fan then this is the Blu-ray of Inferno to get.