Inferno (UK - BD)
The Wilson Bros examine second chapter of the Three Mothers trilogy...
Dario Argento's most celebrated film of a career that has spanned five decades is almost certainly 1976's Suspiria, a tale of modern-day witchcraft in Freiburg, Germany. It was a ground-breaking tale that seemed intent of giving the audience a sensory overload to bombard and ultimately terrify. The international success and acclaim that Suspiria was met with left cinemagoers expecting more of the same, but it was Argento's first foray into straight horror, as most of his cinematic output had consisted of giallo (thriller/detective) films, but Suspiria would ultimately take the former Italian journalist and film critic into that area that is somewhere between horror and fairytale—the fantastique.
With the success of Suspiria, Argento decided to capitalise upon the public's thirst for such material, and so engineered a piece of retro-continuity, making Suspiria the first chapter of a three-part story, which was given the name of the Three Mothers Trilogy. The premise was that there were three witches, Mater Suspiriorum (the Mother of Sighs), Mater Tenebrarum (the Mother of Darkness) and Mater Lacrimarum (the Mother of Tears); Suspiriorum was in Freiburg, Germany; Tenebrarum resided in New York, and Lacrimarum controlled Rome. Suspiria dealt with the Mother of Sighs; the Mother of Tears would not be tackled for around thirty years after Suspiria, but in between them came the film that would feature the Mother of Darkness— Inferno.
We are in a rather funny position with the final film, The Third Mother (aka The Mother of Tears, aka That Wretched Piece of Shit) where one of us has seen it, but the other refuses to have anything to do with it. OK, the one who hasn’t bought it as a present for the one who has, but there was probably a humorous notion about it. Whatever your own feelings about this ill-advised, long-overdue finale to the trilogy, just be glad that Inferno will always be there to slip into your Blu-ray player as the second half of the ultimate demonic double-bill and it is the mid-section of this series that we are focusing upon now. So let's take the plunge into darkness, as all hell breaks loose...
The story involves Rose Elliot (Irene Miracle) discovering an ancient book entitled ‘The Three Mothers’, which tells of three sisters who use witchcraft and control areas of the world with tears, sorrow and darkness. Curiosity gets the better of Rose and she begins to suspect the New York apartment building she is living in may be the residence of one of the three mothers and she begins to investigate, but not before telling her music student brother, Mark (Leigh McCloskey) in a letter. After doing too much digging, Rose meets a sticky end and Mark flies to New York from Rome to investigate just why he hasn't heard from his sister and he eventually discovers the sinister forces at work that are now seeking to silence him...
The ultimate essence of Inferno is that of the foulest of nightmares and most vivid of hallucinations thrown like paint-bombs at the film it was captured on. American Evangelist Billy Graham once said that The Exorcist had evil ‘in its’ very celluloid’, but here demonic forces bombard you with incredible images of horrific beauty, allowing them to forcibly enter the body through your eyes whilst your pupils are dilated and through your ears via an aural attack.
As though trying to broaden the scope of his demonic opus, Argento sets the story of Inferno on both sides of the Atlantic, impressively expanding the dominion of the Three Mothers to encompass a greater portion of the world. Part of the unsettling nature of Suspiria was being in the ballet shoes of Jessica Harper, who is thrown not only into a country she can barely understand, but having the trapdoor of reality drop out from under her courtesy of the Mother of Sighs. It would have been foolish for Dario to merely employ his patented ‘artist in exile’ number once again, so he finally has his protagonist an American who travels back to his homeland to solve the mystery so tantalisingly dangled in front of him. This creates an even more unsettling experience for him, as all he thinks he knows is increasingly buried in a fog of unreality and death. Even Central Park isn’t immune from satanic molestation, when barbaric hotdog vendors can seemingly run across water to commit bloody murder to keep the demonic secret residing below ground in New York.
This interesting mixture of New York and Italy manifests itself in other ways, the most cinematically curious one being that Argento roped in two prominent filmmakers from both sides of the Atlantic to help with the filming—legendary Italian auteur Mario Bava handled some of the special effects seen during the climax and up-and-coming American director William Lustig was brought on board to handle some of the location filming in the Big Apple. We met Mr Lustig at a film festival in the 90s, and a friend of ours got him to sign his pre-cert VHS copy of Inferno, and Lustig was very reluctant to do it, mainly because he didn't want to ruin such a beautiful cover through his minimal role in the production. Oh, and Dave—if you're reading this, drop us a line, huh...?
The use of classical music is utterly beguiling, and can almost be seen as a precursor to Argentos’ Opera later that decade. Whilst the latter sought to being Verdi's tragic tale of Macbeth into the modern age, Inferno uses Va Pensiero as the theme to his second voyage into witchcraft, and Verdis’ work has seldom been employed with such panache. Whilst not quite a recurring motif, the two occasions it is tied into the story, the Mother of Darkness exerts her power over the world, and the marriage of Dario Argento and Giuseppi Verdi makes the hair on the back of your neck rise up and crackle. Inferno is significant musically in that it marked the last time that Argento would use classical music to build up tension and suspense in his films before unwisely deciding to go the metal route during the eighties, something which may have garnered him a younger audience during that time, but did quite a bit of damage to him artistically, as he threw away tension for an intense aural overload.
Mirrored themes run throughout Inferno, which is no surprise when they exist to propagate the story of The Three Mothers. The use of vivid, primal colours in the cinematography aside, our personal choice for the coolest instance of a rhyming theme is that of Hellish Taxi rides. Previously, the naive Jessica Harper hails a cab and endures a ride through the black forests of Freiberg as fierce storms try to dissuade her from going any further, accompanied by the unsettling chimes of Goblin. Here we have Eleonora Giorgi flagging down a taxi to Romes’ Biblioteca Angelica to further her investigation into the mysterious forces she has stumbled upon. The rain comes down as multi-coloured beams of light shine through the windows, but she is determined to get to the bottom of matters, with Keith Emmerson’s furious keyboards acting as her forthcoming funeral march to a certain death. Argento seems to be proving that a little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing.
There are few cinematic instances where libraries are called upon to be anything other than staid, stuffy places where dumb people go to get information to further a plot through dusty old books, but we are proud to say that Inferno manages to draw together some captivating images and create a sequence which sticks long in the memory. Giorgi arrives at the Biblioteca Angelica to find a copy of the Three Mothers, and eventually discovers the very book she seeks. After only a brief glance at it, she is interrupted by the bellowing tones of a monstrous figure—one conducting alchemy—who tries to kill her. We are not kidding, but the shots of cauldron of liquid metal bubbling away almost makes you want to head off to the bathroom with a box of tissues to relieve yourself. It is the very definition of a ‘lusty’ image, one which makes the turning of base metals into gold an activity you want to take up on your own based solely on the picture painted on Argento’s demonic canvas. Utterly beautiful.
What is possibly the most memorable sequence in Inferno sees Rose Elliot (Irene Miracle) accidentally dropping a vital key and it disappears beneath a crack in the floor. If it were that simple to retrieve, then it would hardly be something that sticks so vividly in the memory—Rose realises that it has fallen through the floor and into a submerged ballroom. She realises that she has to get the key and that means diving into uncertain waters to retrieve it. The use of muted primary colours in the sequence that have been diffused and diluted by the water is wonderful, making a striking and eerie contrast to the bright colours seen up to that point. The soundtrack is muffled and distorted and when combined with the alteration to the images, provides and eerie and accurate attempt to capture the effects on your primary senses that being immersed in liquid can have.
Far too many accuse Dario Argento of filling his films with pretty imagery whilst remaining completely superficial, but those who ‘get’ the Italian horror genre will leap to his defence. Those of a narrow mind will take the early sequence set during a music lecture at face value: a guy is trying to read a letter as he sits in class, bothered by the curtains blowing about. He sees a woman stroking a cat as he listens to music through headphones. Sorted. Those accustomed to Italian horror will read it very differently: a man reads a letter about mysterious forces surrounding his sister, weighing up in his mind if he should fly over to New York to make sure she is safe. As his mind is turning, unearthly powers rage around the lecture theatre, blowing open windows and making their presence known. The gales herald the arrival of the Mother of Tears, stroking a black cat, which hallmarks her physical manifestation. She delivers a warning to our student, but he is too wrapped up in his own mind to heed her advice and not travel to America. To quote Lex Luthor: ’Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it's a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe’.
As surely as a Marvel Comics adaptation which doesn’t have a decent set of bad-guys, the natural elements are powerful forces in the Three Mothers trilogy, and possibly the most pertinent demonstration of this comes with Inferno. The famous sequence where Irene Miracle dives into the depths of a submerged ballroom to probe the secrets of the Mother of Darkness serves to establish that the water represents the element of ‘good’, and the flames of fire symbolising evil at the climax are extinguished when the two collide. This was firmly established in Suspiria, where Jessica Harper’s arrival in Freiberg triggers a torrential downpour, as if protecting her from the evil from her at the school. Surely enough, her opposing component to the fiery wrath which rips apart the Tanz Academy saves her at the end, laughing in the rain at her miraculous victory. Where Inferno is more literal about the evil element, Suspiria goes the same way with the righteous constituent.
There is a blanketing generalisation to European horror films that they are a vessel for lousy dialogue, with words uttered merely there to expatiate the mayhem which punctuate the running time. OK, so some of the less artistically-minded directors who have worked in the field might well be guilty of this—who said Bruno Mattei… come on, who was it?—but Argento is using dialogue as a means of both imparting essential information to the audience and relaying the train-of-thought of his characters. What has to be remembered is that Dario’s films function outside of the established confines of reality, and how many of us can honestly say that things encountered in our own dreams conform to the established patterns of the three-act structure?
Sure, when Argento has used it in his more reality-based projects, they really can sound as off as the most scathing of reviews suggest, and Tenebrae’s horrible line: ’Say, where’s Anne, my secretary?’ always makes us grimace. As much as we have a lot of affection for Friday the 13th Part 3, it contains one of the worst examples of this around with: ’Wasn’t this door closed just a few moments ago?’ It is fair to say that a good portion of dialogue in Argento’s ‘other’ movies (read: those which are not giallo) act as signposts written on hazy clouds, serving to point you in the same direction as the filmmaker rather than using some form of GPS to lead you by the balls, and the use of such material is carefully designed as the aesthetic elements which Argento’s detractors accuse his art of being solely based on.
The subject of writing credits for Inferno was always going to be a contentious one, given the somewhat uneven nature of Dario and Daria Nicolodi’s relationship. Ms Nicolodi was credited for her work on Suspiria, which was only fair, given the very personal nature of the basis for her story, that of a tale told to her by her grandmother. This time around, she receives no acknowledgement for her contribution to the film, which she was not going to contest, given that she had to practically hold her breath until they gave her appropriate recognition on Suspiria. With the break-up of their relationship, the bitterness set in, and her contribution to Inferno was downplayed, and left Nicolodi’s standpoint of letting her work speak for itself to come back to haunt her. Much like Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, there has been much dispute over who came up with what, threatening to taint the work as a whole. When looking at the two films, it is clear that an ethereal element is woven through them, unlike any other of Argento's movies, and it becomes undisputable that this is all thanks to the considerable contribution of Daria Nicolodi.
The distribution of Argento's tale of terror is a tangled web, mostly weaved by 20th Century Fox. The massive success they had with an Italian horror film like Suspiria (released through their dummy company, International Classics Inc.) had Fox salivating for more, and eagerly snapped up the rights to it, thinking that it could make them money as a comparatively inexpensive pick-up in world markets. Between shelling out for control of the movie and actually getting it into cinemas, a fatal change of administration at Fox saw previous guarantees dismissed en mass. Inferno was one of them. Whilst it found a strong audience in the UK, opening to respectable box office in the first quarter of 1980, the new bosses at Fox pulled the proposed theatrical release and it eventually got out into the open only when released on video in 1985. We have always kicked ourselves for passing up the beautiful UK Quad poster twenty years ago, before ebay and at a time when you could buy such things without it costing you a good portion of your monthly pay-packet.
Much has been said of the Leigh McCloskey in the lead role of Mark Elliot, essentially to the effect of his lack of charisma, drive and personality, with many postulating that a more dynamic actor fronting the film would have made it more palatable for a wider audience. While we agree that he’s not the most animated of thespians, it’s our combined opinion that McCloskey was chosen so as to be a blank slate for those watching, be it for the purpose of giving viewers the chance to put themselves in his shoes as events unfold around him. It’s either this, or the other possibility that a weaker protagonist allows the demonic mayhem unfolding around him free reign, not allowing a character of overwrought morality to taint all the colours of darkness.
As with a number of Argento movies the supporting characters have a way of stealing the movie out from under the nose of the lead, and as the above testifies, Inferno is no exception. Dario pulls a fast one when he kills off both actresses the audience assumes to be the lead, departing from the Suspiria format of having the protagonist a woman. Irene Miracle, last seen pressing her tits against a pane of glass in Midnight Express, has both guts and personality by the bucket-load, and is a genuine surprise when she falls fatally foul of the Mother of Darkness. The same can be said of Eleonora Giorgi, but given her propensity for sticking her nose into other peoples’ business, her early departure isn’t quite as much of a shock. It is Sacha Pitoeff who practically walks away with the whole movie, playing the gruff, one-legged bookstore owner Kazanian, and any man who hates cats as much as we do is OK by us. Feodor Chaliapin is a bewitching combination of creepy and charming, possessing the extraordinary ability to go from nearly helpless cripple to lethal bastard in the blink of an eye, managing to worm his way under your skin, making sure that you'll never trust an old person again.
Daria Nicolodi is as charming and as beguiling as ever, playing Countess Elsie, a resident of the building who suspects that there are sinister forces at work. Nicolodi does what the script expects of her, but doesn't give her a chance to really shine in the part as she did in Profondo Rosso, where she was magnificent, but she's still pretty good here, in a less showy role here than Argentos' uber-giallo. It beats a couple of seconds at the side of the screen this time around, even if she is attacked by cats that pounce on her as though they were thrown by a certain character a Matt Groening show...
It is nice to see Alida Valli putting in a significant appearance in Inferno, after being so memorable as the fearsome Miss Tanner in Suspiria. Her being in one of the other locations controlled by The Three Mothers makes the viewer wonder if she is actually the same character, but under another name (Carol, the caretaker) and possibly keeping an eye out for Mater Tenebrarum to make up for the rather poor stab at it last time out.
The final ten minutes or so is probably the most intensely sustained brilliance of Argentos’ career. It starts when McCloskey discovers a series of tunnels underneath the floor of Roses’ apartment block; they take him into the bowls of building and into the lair of the Mother of Darkness. This is a perfect combination of all elements which hallmark the best of Argentos’ art. The protagonist has to break through the surface in order to get themselves closer to the truth which eludes them, coupled with deeply unsettling characters, masterful production design, almost hallucinogenic imagery, pitch-perfect staging, along with a choice and deployment of music to send the finale rocketing off into the stratosphere. When the Mother of Darkness reveals the true nature of the Three Mothers, and undergoing a startling metamorphosis into her true form, we challenge you not to be utterly impressed with the ace up Dario's sleeve.
Much like the end of Suspiria, the protagonist eventually ventures into the lair of the witch and a fiery climax ensues; the main difference between the two is that Suspiria's Suzy Bannion got there through perseverance and deductive reasoning, but with Inferno's Mark Elliot just seems to blunder into things. Even the despatching of the witches are in the same manner, drawing the two movies together and making them a cohesive whole, yet still working as standalone stories.
We had always considered Inferno to be vastly inferior to Suspiria, even going so far as to feel as though it was a minor Argento film in general. This all changed when we spent one Saturday in 1994 at the University of Kent in Canterbury at what was called ‘The Dario Argento Film Conference’. Although we had to endure being in the company of a bunch of pretentious and/or disinterested film students who had to blow Saturday on campus (not to mention having to eat disgusting veggie-burgers forced upon us in the university cafeteria), there were some enlightening lectures (from Xavier Mendick and Alan Jones, amongst others) and a quartet of Argento films were played— Bird with the Crystal Plumage, then Four Flies on Grey Velvet (the first time we saw it) followed by Tenebre and finally Inferno.
Though at that particular screening Inferno was shown in 1.33:1 (Alan Jones refused to sit though the film and promptly stormed out, saying to us ’I can't watch it like this’ as he went), the 16mm print was pristine and a wonder to behold, with astonishingly vivid colours and just watching the film in such a grand and (though it's almost idiotically obvious to say it) cinematic way, it made us appreciate the film like never before and ever since, we have loved Inferno, and now ranks as one of our favourites of Dario's cinematic endeavours.
Arrow are to be commended for their efforts in getting Argento's magnum opus released here in the UK completely intact. The film had always been censored in this Sceptred Isle, having various bits of violence and—most importantly—the shots where a cat is shown eating a love mouse. When Arrow submitted it to the BBFC, they initially passed it with all of the violence intact, but demanded the cat and mouse shot must be removed, as it contravened the 1937 Cinematograph Films (Animal) Act. This news was greeted with more than the odd cry of anguish/derision from Argento enthusiasts who could not bear to see such high-definition delights mutilated by the censors' scissors. However, in a letter-writing campaign not too dissimilar from the one that saved Star Trek back in the sixties, Argento fans bombarded the BBFC with letters and email that intelligently argued for the Board to rethink their decision (many of the missives were of the ’I am an adult and I am capable of making an informed choice as to what I want to watch’ variety) and surprisingly, they backed down and allowed Inferno to be released in its unexpurgated form in the UK. OK, so the shot concerned is a fairly unpleasant one to watch, but the film would be incomplete without it and it is symbolic of Mark's journey into the heart of the building and what potential fate awaits him as he is about to stumble upon people with powers almost too great to comprehend and that they have been watching him and sadistically playing with him in the same way that a cat plays with a... well, you get the idea.
Watching the aforementioned gorgeous 16mm print at the University of Kent gave us unrealistic expectations when trying to match the experience at home. Our first copy was taped from Sky Movies in the early 90s, which used the original Fox master tapes. We rejoiced at news of the widescreen tape release, but it once again fell markedly short. Then, during that strange three or four year period in the 90s when the UK went LaserDisc crazy, we jumped at the copy brought out on the prestige format. It still looked like a compromise. We were finally happy when Anchor Bay US finally gave fans a copy to be proud of when DVD found its' feet. However, progress has a way of changing things...
Slipping the Blu-ray edition into the tray brought a broad smile to our collective lips as we were greeted by an image of impressive stability and bold colour. The 1080p HD mastering of the 1.85:1 image banishes the unintentionally hazy quality possessed of many other transfers, bringing Inferno back to vivid life. The rock-solid nature of Inferno's colours almost produces a physical shudder of pleasure, such is the revelatory improvement on be found over most other copies we‘ve sat through. The sharper image paradoxically enhances its hazy, dreamlike state, and immerses the viewer in the netherworld created by Argento and DP Romano Albani in a way we haven’t experienced since that 16mm print all those years ago. We compared it to the Anchor Bay R1 release, and the Blu bested it in just about all areas, and did so with aplomb. There were a couple of shots which were somewhat darker on the newer transfer, with some detail obscured in the shadows, but this is certainly nothing to spoil such a superb copy Inferno. The colours are not as saturated as they were on the Anchor Bay DVD, and some DNR seems to have been utilised, but we have seen the film in many forms and with the Arrow Blu-ray release, we can confidently say that this is the strongest version of Argento’s masterpiece on the market.
Inferno comes presented on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio track. Keith Emmerson's compositions, including the truly off-the-wall five-four time re-scoring of Verdi's Va Pensiero sounds amazing when bumped up to HD. There are some nice and surprising moments that come with the sound-mix, with dialogue presented nicely, some pleasing separation and lovely, chunky lows in the mix. Sound is always an important component in the movies of Snr Argento, with a number of instances testifying to this. When voices carry though the House of the Damned in New York, we travel along the pipes as whispered words echo around, met by maniacal laughter, here bumped so forcefully that it really unnerved us when expecting the levels we were familiar with. The sounds of rain on the window of the taxi seems much more immediate and ‘real’ than before, and just add to the whole experience. Our only regret is that those in charge couldn’t have sourced a higher-fidelity version of Va Pensiero for this particular mix, possibly licensing from Naxos, or another such company. The 2.0 version is acceptable if you want something less elaborate. Wonderful news comes with the inclusion of an Italian language track, with a pretty rich presentation, even within the confines of mono, and all with English subtitles. Inferno is well catered for in the sound department.
Introduction: Actress and uncredited co-writer Daria Nicolodi introduces Inferno. After she addresses the UK viewers, you expect her to either inform us she is being treated well or demand the drink she's owed for it.
Dario's Inferno: This sixteen minute interview with Dario Argento is interesting—he speaks more easily and freely in his native Italian and touches upon various fascinating aspects of the production of Inferno. Argento also mentions the private screening he attended with the aforementioned female head of 20th Century Fox, who held his arm tightly during the film... and then said ‘no’ to distributing it in the U.S. afterwards. Women, eh? Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em. Apparently there's a law against it.
Acting in Hot Water: An Interview with Daria Nicolodi. This wonderful piece runs for around eighteen minutes and has the reclusive actress talking about all manner things, particularly the Three Mothers, Argento and her love of Mario Bava, where she makes no bones about which of the two directors she preferred in most respects. She’s a wonderful, passionate woman, and her love for the two movies she wrote is undeniably clear, with the last few minutes spend almost canvassing for finance to bring the true final chapter of The Three Mothers to the screen, rather than the two poor attempts already out there. Speaking of which…
The Other Mother: Making the Black Cat: This sixteen minute featurette examines the unofficial third part of the Three Mothers Trilogy. In 1989 director Luigi Cozzi (a long-time friend and collaborator of Dario Argento) decided to make the unofficial follow-up to Inferno and 'complete' the Three Mothers legacy. This feature looks at the torrid history of The Black Cat, with plenty of clips too! Those of us who have sat through the movie will attest it being an utter pile of shit ( ’Who's Levana?’), but to get some context is most welcome. Cozzi explains that the film was caught up in a large amount of red tape (it's doubtful that it will ever receive an official release on DVD), but the most remarkable thing about this documentary is how lousy the clips from The Black Cat look—we have an old VHS copy (that we taped from Sky in the early 90s) knocking around somewhere that probably looks better than the stuff here.
Inferno QandA with Irene Miracle, Keith Emmerson and Tim Lucas: This is footage taken from a fairly recent (references are made to Facebook) screening of Inferno in the U.S. Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas stands in-front of a blank cinema screen and firstly brings out Inferno's star Irene Miracle, then eventually welcomes British muso Kieth Emmerson out. Lucas is understandably a fountain of knowledge, helpfully jogging the memory of a brutally honest Miracle, who straight out says that accepted the part for the money. Miracle warms up when Emmerson comes out and his general demeanour is not too dissimilar to the older John Lydon and though Emmerson talks a lot about nothing much, he is very amusing and he puts Miracle at ease. This is an entertaining way to spend half an hour, but it makes you wonder if there is almost an unwritten order for aging British prog-rockers to wear large brown or green tinted sunglasses indoors...
Easter Egg: X Marks the Spot: Without wishing to give too much away, this hidden extra consists of five minutes of director Dario Argento in speaking in English, providing a few additional memories of the filming of Inferno.
Arrow has included a second disc in this set for your viewing pleasure. Even though it's just a standard-def disc, it still contains some cool goodies.
Dario Argento—An Eye for Horror: This fifty-seven minute documentary, produced in 1990, takes an overview of Argento's career and includes interviews with many of Argento's peers, including George Romero and John Carpenter, along with various cast members and collaborators. Whilst certainly not the definitive look at Argento's work, there are certainly enough interesting interviews to surprise even some of the more learned of Argentophiles. What IS very cool about this documentary is that it features an interview with Michael Brandon, the star of Four Flies on Grey Velvet, during which he enthuses about Argento's style.
Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava on Inferno: This short featurette about the production of the film was originally included on the old Anchor Bay release, but its inclusion here is no less welcome.
The Complete Dario Argento Trailer Gallery: This has been featured on other Arrow Argento releases and is always welcome, showing trailers for eighteen of Argento's cinematic ventures.
International Trailer: This is the coming attraction for Inferno which most fans will be familiar with, and certainly does the job of piquing the interest and making you want to watch it. It‘s doom-laden, it‘s haunting—it's all good stuff!
Spanish Trailer: It's the same as the above, but with Spanish captions and a new voiceover. Es condenación cargada, es que frecuenta, es toda la buena materia! Sí, el español nunca era nuestro punto fuerte…
Reversible Sleeve: As with many of Arrow's flagship releases, Inferno comes complete with original and newly commissioned art work for the covers, allowing you to choose whichever one of the four designs tickles your fancy. Resident Arrow artist Rick Melton has once again painted new artwork that is done in the style of the early eighties, but this is the first time that we can honestly say that Mr Melton has missed the point with it entirely— Inferno was not the kind of standard exploitation film where lurid artwork was required or produced, and the new painting featuring the crass picture of a woman's arse was seriously missing the mark.
Double-sided fold-out Poster: Rick Melton's questionable artwork is on one side of this poster—never mind, on the other side is a rather nifty repro of the classic UK Quad poster, and you can bet your bippy that this is going to find its way into many a frame.
Collector’s Booklet: This features a brand new essay on Inferno by none other than Alan Jones, author of Profondo Argento and friend and biographer of the great man.
Postcards: For your added pleasure, Arrow have also included mini-reproductions of Inferno lobby cards from several countries. It's yet another nice touch that makes this release all the more pleasing.
Dario Argento's Inferno marked the the end of the director's short-lived journey into the realms of the fantastique; next up for him would be a return to the giallo sub-genre that he made his name with. Inferno was a rare case of lightning striking twice, as it succeeded in trying to recapture the same kind of otherworldly magic which was the very fibre of Suspiria.
Arrow are to be commended for being the first to bring out Inferno on Blu-ray for UK audiences, and wherever else, as it isn‘t region-locked. The image is the best release of the movie yet and the sound is stellar. The extras which accompany the film are wonderful, giving balanced insight with technical information for those want to know more, with the paper ephemera the icing on the cake.
As for us? Well, this was the first time that we had seen Inferno in a number of years, and watching it on Blu-ray left us with smiles on our faces you couldn't have prised off with a crowbar. We were catapulted back to that 16mm screening all those years ago, and our love for the movie renewed as swiftly and assuredly as a library book being stamped. The book in question is The Three Mothers, and the masterpiece of a movie we adore is Dario Argento's Inferno. Utterly recommended.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Wilson Bros
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 13th September 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS 2.0 English, DTS 2.0 Italian
Extras: Introduction, Dario's Inferno, Acting in Hot Water, The Other Mother, Dario Argento - An Eye for Horror, The Complete Dario Argento Trailer Gallery, Reversible Sleeve Art, Double-Sided Poster, Collector's Booklet, Postcards
Easter Egg: No
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Mark McCloskey, Daria Nicolodi, Irene Miracle, Alida Valli
Length: 107 minutes
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