Directed by: Dario Argento
Starring: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleanora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi, Sacha Pitoeff, Alida Valli
I hadn’t seen Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980) since my days as a “contributing splatterologist” for John McCarty’s Official Splatter Movie Guide back in the late 1980s. At that time (obviously), I saw the film on a pan-and-scan VHS, so the first thing I noticed when watching the newer, widescreen DVD transfer for this review was what an absolutely gorgeous movie it is. It has beautiful production design and is an almost endless stream of striking images. It still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it looks a lot better than it did 20-odd-years ago. How much of that is due to Argento and how much is due to an uncredited Mario Bava is hard to tell, and depends almost entirely on who you listen to. The content, on the other hand, feels like real Argento. Not that Bava was ever the master of dramatic struture, but Argento seems to just plain not give a damn whether or not a movie is even coherent—and Inferno is the last word in incoherent. Oh, yeah, it’s part of his trilogy about three apartment buildings—one in Rome, one in Freiburg, Germany (already dealt with in Suspiria, I guess), and one in New York—which house three evil “mothers.” This film concerns the New York branch of the unholy firm, which is home to Mother Tenebrarum (Veronica Lazar), who seems determined to kill off the inhabitants of the building—and a neighbor or two—in various gory ways. And it’s all set to a wigged-out and pretty creepy (sometimes silly) Keith Emerson musical score. For bloody, stylish mayhem, it’s pretty darn good. Otherwise, “Forget it, Jake, it’s Argento Town.”
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Inferno Thursday, May 26, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.