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March 15, 2011

Movie Review: Inferno (1980, Blu-ray, Blue Underground)

Blue Underground brings Argento's mesmerizing second installment in the Three Mother's trilogy to Blu-ray with stunning results!

Buy Inferno on Blu-ray

Film: 4/5

There is nothing like Euro-Horror. Atmosphere. Special Effects. Music.
Dubbing (ha). And of course, the colors. Bava, Fulci and Argento were masters of the spectrum. Inferno is a shining example. Critically maligned upon release, since it's been praised as one of Dario's best. I haven't seen every film from the Italian maestro but I absolutely enjoy Inferno. Although it is a slow burn, the moody nightmare grabs you and doesn't let go till the fiery finale.

The film opens in New York with Rose (gorgeous Irene Miracle) finding a book titled "The Three Mothers". The book tells of three witch sisters that live in specially designed homes built by the author, Varelli. A home in Rome for Mater Lachrymarum, Freiburg for Mater Suspiriorum and in New York for Mater Tenebrarum. Rose goes to elderly handicapped antique/bookseller Kazanian and informs him of her belief that the building she lives in is inhabited by Mater Tenebrarum. Kazanian cry's nonsense, leading Rose to discover a flooded room in the basement of the building. Here Rose confirms the place is in fact home to Tenebrarum and flees when a corpse floats past her. Frightened, Rose writes a letter to her brother, Mark (Leigh McCloskey) urging him to leave Rome and come to New York to be with her. Mark obliges but find's his sister is missing without a trace. Now Mark must search for Rose and unravel the mystery of the dark building and it's occupants before it is too late.

Inferno stands out as a favorite of mine amongst Italian horror. It's lush, vivid cinematography is vastly underrated and I agree with the dozens who have said it is one of the most beautifully shot horror films ever. Argento crafts an intricate mystery that really does leave you guessing till the end. Argento was just coming off the success of Suspiria. His then girlfriend and co-writer of Suspiria Daria Nicolodi was on board to write and star in the picture. Even the legendary Mario Bava and his son Lamberto assisted in the making. Musician Keith Emerson was asked to create the now famous score. All the right ingredients were in place to make a great film, and great it is.

Although it isn't without it's flaws, at least for me. Inferno is a slow burn and at times drawn out. Though it is for a reason. Argento set out to tell a story and it takes time to unravel. Granted I've only seen this twice, I can see with repeat viewings in the future me discarding this complaint. And it wouldn't be an Argento film without some great death scenes. I'd be lying if I said they didn't put a smile on my face. Inferno really is an experience. It demands you soak up the atmosphere and trust Argento as he shows us a technicolor nightmare.

 Blu-ray: 4.5/5

* Widescreen 1.85:1 - HD Uncensored & Uncut 
Transferred from the original negative, Blue Underground breathes new life into Inferno. It looks jaw dropping amazing. Colors shine of the screen. Grain is intact with no digital interference. Hands down stunning. The best Inferno has looked, definitely a tad better than Arrow's transfer.

* English 7.1 DTS-HD - 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX - Dolby Surround 2.0 -  Italian Mono
Audio is fine, not as bombastic as one would expect but it does it's job nicely.

Bonus Features: 3.5/5

* "Art and Alchemy" Featurette
Interview with actor Leigh McCloskey. Leigh talks about his career and experience on Inferno. Originally, James Woods had his role but dropped out due to other reasons. Really great and insightful interview.

* "Reflections of Rose" Featurette
Interview with actress Irene Miracle. Irene has some great anecdotes about her time on the film, one including Dario killing her off early in the film due to him thinking she was going to die shortly from a fever causing hair loss!

* Interview w/ Dario Argento & Lamberto Bava

* Dario Argento Bio

* Theatrical Trailer

Arrow's Blu-ray has a lot more to offer in terms of extras but Blue Underground's brand new interviews are great. Both are essential purchases. Highly Recommended.

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