Ok peeps, today’s review is Dario Argento’s Inferno. It’s the second of his Three Mothers Trilogy, proceeded by his masterwork Suspiria. So this review is going to be a little bit different. Instead of just writing it flat out off the top of my head like I normally do, I’m going to type my thoughts as I watch the film. If you like, you can follow along yourself with my thoughts with the live film, and it will be like I’m in your house, watching the film with you (if you are like me and don’t own a copy, it’s currently streaming on Netflix) and drinking out of your glasses.
So press play NOW!
Ok, a shot of a shiny knife, some fucking keys, and a book called The Three Mothers. A caption on the bottom of the screen tells us we are in New York April. I have no idea where New York April is. Some bitch is translating something out of this book The Three Mothers. Some asshole built houses for the three mothers, who rule the world with tears, misery, and darkness. Lucio Fulci kinda ripped this scene off in opening of The Beyond.
And now we begin, INFERNO!
Some more exposition about the Three Mothers and their housing….this is kinda cool. Ok then the author gives exact locations of the three keys to unlock their houses. Well, two of them anyways. The third key “Is under the soles of your shoes”. So basically, it’s one of those deals like in that “Papa Was a Rolling stone” song…”wherever he laid his hat was his home!”.
The chick (Rose) reading the book is now mailing a letter to her brother Mark, who is in Rome, home of the Mother of Tears. On her way back she sees a cellar. “The second key is hidden in the cellar”, the author’s voice over reiterates to us as Rose sees a cellar door. It’s obviously night time and the bitch is banging on a door to a antinque store to talk to the owner about the Three Mothers book, whom she bought it from. I really like the lighting in this scene. Argento uses the same dream like tone he perfected in Suspiria during this scene. It’s a bit surreal to think of a street in New York April where the street lights are hot pink, but hey, it works.
Anyways, the store owner tells her the book is fake. “The second key is hidden in the cellar”, the voiceover tells us afuckinggain like we didn’t hear that shit the first time. So now, she’s going in the cellar like a stupid whore. There is a lot of cool atmosphere going on here, and it’s one of the things that always draws me back into this movie, despite my misgivings of it. The biggest problem with it is that Suspiria casts such a large shadow that it’s hard to get out of, and made more frustrating by the fact that trilogy’s finale doesn’t even try.
So now, she’s wandering around in the cellar, and comes across a drainage pipe that leads to a hole in the floor flooded with water. Her keys fall into the water. There happens to be a working lamp head on the floor, which she uses to see in the puddle. OMG someone is approaching the cellar door! She shines the light down in the wa wa, finds her keys, but has no go go Gadget arms to reach it. I love this scene. The nightmare like logic of this is what makes Argento films great. His vision matches his lack of logic so it’s not frustrating as it is when he does try to make films “real”.
So now, she goes into the hole in the floor, and it’s actually a room flooded with water. Fun fact: this scene was shot by Mario Bava’s son Lamberto Bava, who later went on to a bit o fame with the Demons series.
As Rose emerges from air, we realize she’d be a top contender to win a wet t-shirt contest. She’s still swimming around in the room and shit trying to find her keys, and is looking around all the artwork and what not. Ok there go her keys. and OMG OMG OMG there is a dead body in the room! Something has covered up the hole from which she emerged and now she is really freaked….I would be too! I dream weird shit like this sometimes. Thank goodness she finds another way out.
She’s making like Matt Dillion and getting the hell out of Dodge, as the camera scrolls back and we see that the hole has disappeared. A black gloved hand picks up something she dropped. She’s in the elevator now going back up to her apartment. Oh yeah, evidently her apartment building is one of the Mother’s dwelling place.
We’re now in Rome-April.
Some sorta college music class here. This guy with the pencil mustache is Sarah’s (the girl from before) brother Mark. He’s checking out what I am pretty sure is the transvestite from Tenbrae (I did some googling after I typed this and it’s not “her”, this is a real girl) up a few rows in his class who has the biggest fucking cat ever. This is just ridiculous silly. He’s trying to read the letter from his sister but the transvestite looking woman keeps looking at him with her stuupid cat and he’s shook. This is supposed to be Mater Lacrimarum, the mother of tears, who resides in Rome and we meet in Mother of Tears where she is played by a woman who is attractive. Too bad that’s not the case here. I’d have trouble concentrating on shit too if that weird ass crap was going on.
Ok, so now we have an imitation cab ride of the one from Suspiria. The problem is the music is absolutely terrible. The cab ride in the first felt like a slow ride into a sublime hell. The tone and the music lulls you into a trance. This one makes you feel like your strung out on Red Bulls riding the Scrambler at the county fair.
Back to Sarah: She’s going to the library. She cut her finger getting out of the cab and stands there in the rain like a little bitch for about five minutes before she decides to finally seek shelter in her destination.
Wow, card catalogs, remember those?!
This library is pretty epic, but I think most of these books are fake. She passes by some people studying and one of them (a girl) looks like she wants to rape the fuck out of Sarah as she walks by. Creepy old library man is helping Sarah find the book on The Three Mothers. We get some more exposition about Vareli from the books preface.
She of course, steals the book.
We get some POV shots behind the shelves and it looks like she’s being watched by an unseen force, much like Suzy was in the original Suspiria. I like that aspect being carried over.
As she makes her way out of the library, she comes across a room in the basement hallway, she comes across a man making a bunch of shit using alchemy, Varreli’s occupation of trade. Nice looking shot, very gothic. Lots of pots poiling on fires. Looks like he is boiling paper mache in one pot. She sees nothing out of the oridinary and asks the hooded figure how to get out. He tells her “The other door!” Uh oh, bitch, he sees what book she has, and tries to boil her in the paper mache bowl. She drops the book and leaves, and somehow manages to get her tits caught in the exit door. The alchemist is giving chase, but decides to leave her alone once she leaves the library. Fun fact: It’s really Dario Argento.
Sarah gets another cab ride back to her apartment. She gets in the elevator with her top all ripped open with this lounge lizard guy who obviously wants to hit that. She asks him to stay with her, and he has “nothing to do for the next couple of hours”. Back in her apartment she asks him “Have you heard of the Three Mothers?”, to which he replies “You mean those black singers?” LOL, racist. She explains what they are, he doesn’t believe in them. He’s a sports writer for TV.
She plays him some classical music, how quaint of her. Really cool shot of the moon to go with the music. The gothicness of this movie is truly great and unique. Some of the imagery tops that of Suspiria. The electricity is going on the fritz, so sportswriter guy goes to check the fuse box. This isn’t going to go well, is it?
Sarah’s going to follow him, she’s afraid. The electricty keeps blinking again, but he fixes it. The music is comes back on full swing, just as we see Carlo (that’s sports writer) peep around the corner with a knife his neck. He falls on top of Sarah, grabbing at her, like he is going to try to fuck her before he dies. The mysterious assailiant pulls the knife out of his neck and stabs Sarah with it.
I had a trick knife like the one used in this film that I got at a gas station when I was like seven. It has a handle and part of the blade, then a curved piece of plastic that fits around your head, and then the blade is at the other end, so it looks like you have a knife in your neck. I wonder if Argento got his knife from the gas station too?
Nice shot of Sarah busting through the curtain as Mark comes by. He seems rather unfazed by this. calls the cops anwyays. The cops show up, and as Mark walks out he sees a car coming by driving Mater Lacrimarum .
Mark calls Rose. A title card on Rose tells us we are in “New York, The Same Night in April”, as though we didnt know the time frame of the film or location of our secondary characters. Argento is kind of insulting our intelligence here.
So the focus is back on Rose. Yeah, she’s probably gonna die. Se’s being chased by something or someone, and doors aren’t opening and she’s cutting her hand (again) on a broken door knob. Stupid piano music is playing, like some seven year old is just banging away on keys and their parent recorded it thinking that it was good. Goblin, who did the music for the original, had broken up by this point, and is why we are stuck listening to this garbage.
The camera is giving us a close up on a torn curtain at an abandoned laundromat for no apparent reason.
Now Sarah is in another building and a black cat is staring at her through a rack in the wall. He looks like my cat Logan! Logan rules!
Some more stylized lighting, I love it. I wish he could have done this in Mother of Tears, instead of natraualistic lighting, which he fell in love with during his shoots on his Masters of Horror episodes. There is nothing wrong with natural lighting, but it doesn’t fit the series….which was founded on being surreal. He tried to make up for this by an over abundance of bare breasts.
This room Rose is in is kinda spooky. The pace is slower, and the music has stopped being absolute shit. That’s a plus. More rain, broken windows, and shattering glass. She gets caught by an open window by the killer, who uses a broken pane of glass like a gulliotine to kill her. Nice little scene that could have gone on a bit longer but it seems Argento got bored, and cuts back to Mark, as he arrives outside the apartement building in New York April on some sunny morning.
Mark introduces himself to the landlady, whom introduces him to another tenant, a nurse in charge of an elderly professor. She tells the tenant Mark has just arrived…from ROME. The tenant impresses us with her geographic knowledge by responding “Ah Italy!”. Mark has an awkward elevator ride with this idiot who thinks musicology is the same thing as toxicology. We’ve all been there before, right? She remarks that Rose’s profession of poetry is “A pasttime especially suited for women”. Robert Frost would totally pimp slap some sense into this woman.
Mark is now in Roses’ apartment. Nothing there though. No dead bodies laying aboot. Now it’s night time again, and New York has replaced all it’s street lights with red bulbs. We’re back at Kazanian Antiques again…so we know this guy is getting ready to kick the bucket.
Some chick is trying to talk to Mark outside the door. It’s Roses’s friend Elise (Daria Nicoldi) who tells Mark about the weird pipe in the wall that can be used to transmit voices into all the rooms, kinda like those tubes at the science museum when you were a kid where you could talk to someone through a pipe at one side of the room to your friend on the other.
Nice gothic shot of a cat in a well furnished room. Looks like something out of Castlevania almost. We get some more exposition from Rose’s friend about the building and Kazanian the bookseller.
Elise has to take a phone call so we’re back to Kazanian again, who has three books about the Three Mothers. The black gloved hand grabs takes them. Yup, Kazanian is about to buy the farm. Creepy baby doll over in the next room. The cat that looks like Logan is in the room and bites him.
Elise is sick and is getting some medicine from some guy who looks a bit like H.P. Lovecraft. He’s going to prepare her bath. Great shot of the city through an open window. And man, this chick has an awesome bathtub too. This butler guy is pretty awesome, he even takes the tempature of the water. Elise finally figures out there there is blood on the carpet from Rose’s murder. Creepy lighting in her apartment. She goes to see Mark.
Elise tells Mark about Rose’s fear of the Three Mothers. The unseen presence is listening through the art deco vents. We hear an evil laugh that interrupts her conversation. Mark investigates the blood stains. The blood trail leads to the service interest. Argento really has an eye for great shot compensition and it’s what makes his films so compelling and watchable, even at their worst. Not that I think this is his worst, far from, but the movie on it’s own makes no damn sense. The surreal nature of it is what makes it awesome, and Argento creates this feeling of palapble dread at certain points that make me think of the night terrors I sometimes wake up from but have trouble shaking until the daylight mercifully arrives, but by that point I’ve been running down the streets, nude, screaming “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME, SARAH?!”, and I don’t even know a Sarah, but enough of that, let’s get back to the film.
Elise is trying to find Mark who breathed in some bad air or some shit and can’t talk now. She sees Mark being dragged away by the EVIL PRESENCE! Shit is happening, she’s walking up some stairs trying to open locked doors. Terrible music is playing over this. The music is really what kills the damn movie. It’s like seeing a great runner trying to do his/her thing with a broken leg. You want to cheer them on knowing their greatness, but at the same time think it’s a bit pathetic.
Elise gets killed by a bunch of fake cats.
Mark is all stumbling around. Evidently he has been poisoned. The teneant and landlord come to help him. They are pretty creepy, and offer him some water. Remember what happened when Suzy was helped by the teachers in Suspiria? That is what seems to be happening here. I don’t think I trust these women (or women in general but that’s another point entrirely). I just IMDB’ed this woman, and and it’s Alida Valli, who played Miss Tanner in Suspiria. Interesting.
Mark goes to see Elise, but she’s gone.
Kazanian again. He’s confronting the landlady about her stupid cats (see I told you she was evil!) breaking in his place. He told her he is going to call the Department of Health on her ass. Mark goes to introduce himself to Kazarian. He asks Kaz if he knows what this means: “The keys are under the soles of your shoes”. Kaz refrains from telling him “it means you’re an asshole”, and instead informs him there is going to be an eclipse tonight.
Back to night time. Kaz is about to get pissed at another stupid cat all up in his residence. It’s a pretty big white cat, really cute and fuzzy. He is holding it by it’s neck. He’s going to put it in a sack and drown it. Oh hell to naw, this dude has got to die now. He’s taking the sack out to the drink to throw it in now. I hope he dies a terrible, terrible death. Random shot of water draining from pipes, that lets us know evil is amgonst us. Running water = shitting hitting the fan. A rat is crawling up the pipe. Promising.
He’s at the water, to throw the cat in and a few more rats start crawling out. He’s trying to drown the cat now, pushing the sack into the shallow water with his crutch. I think he killed it. Wait no, he didn’t. Too shallow. So he tries a deeper spot with more success. More rats now. Kaz thinks the cat dying is funny, I think his crippled ass falling in the water is funny. The rats crawl on top of his pathetic ass and eat him alive.
Yeah fuck you, gimp.
He cries for help and a hot dog vendor comes running to help him, only instead of helping him, he stabs him in the neck with a knife. LOL, that was random but pretty awesome. Evidently the evil witches make money from selling hot dogs.
Elise’s caretaker is dispatched and his woman is looking for him. She is glad Elise is dead so they can live the good life and be rich or something. Hahaha, no, you’re going to die a violent and sadistic death. LOL nice shot fake ass looking gore shot of John with his eyes gouged out. She drops the cande she was holding and catches shit on fire before she ends up falling through a glass ceiling while covered in flames. Beautiful!
Mark is back in Rose’s room wandering aimlessly. The movie’s run time would quicken by about 80% if he figured out what the hell to do. He studies the portrait of the building, pondering the whole “Under the soles of your shoes” thing. Eventidently there is some clue hidden in the archeticture that is the answer to this riddle.
Now there is freaking ants all over the damn foor crawling up from the woodwork. He drops a lit match down the hole from which they are coming from in. Now he’s spraying them with some kinda bug killer and sticks a wire down the hole like he’s checking for oil or something, only he’s the dipstick.
He gets wise all the sudden and pries the boards loose. Meanwhile, that bitch is still on fire and smoking up that side of the building. LOL. Mark proceeds to beat a damn hole in the floor and that’s not a good idea because he’s name isn’t on the lease. Finally he gets a hole big enough to reach through. I hope Satan reaches up and rips his head off. No such luck. Instead he finds some sorta scroll.
Varelli’s narrating shit again. It’s in Latin, so I don’t understand it, and neither do you. Dumbass is actually going into the damn hole now. More crappy music, this is kinda catchy though. Overdramatic and uncalled for considering the scene is just some asshole in a crawlspace while a cute cat eats a mouse. That bitch is still on fire. Mark makes his way to a staircase now. And now he’s going through another secret passage under the floor boards. Wait, he said fuck that. Nevermind. First smart thing this guy has done the whole movie.
He sees the caretaker and the professor in the wheelchair from his vantage point. Man, that old guy’s eyebrows are a good five feet off his head. The interior designer of this place deserves an academy award. Turns out Varrelli is the old professor! :O He is telling Mark, using some voice amplifier, that he built this place, and tells Mark to come closer…he then injects him with something but Mark euthanizes him. Good riddance. He tells Mark he is just a slave, and Mater Tenebraum is going to get him.
Mark goes into another room, and this one looks really awesome. I think I like this movie a lot more than I originally thought. He finds himself in the chamber of Tenebraum, who turns out to be the professor’s caretaker.. Lots of weird architecture, a mirror and gothic candles. Seriously, Konami ripped this movie way the hell off in their Castlevania games. And a bit in their stellar Silent Hill franchise.
Great speech given by Mater Tenebrarum. This whole scene is breathtaking. Really great practical effects reveal of her true nature. So bad ass. They’d CGI it up and fuck it up if they remade it…which they are doing with Suspiria. Mark makes it out as the building burns to the ground.
I watched this movie for the first time about six or seven years ago, so I don’t really remember that much about it except for the ending which I loved. It’s a really cool movie, despite it’s short comings and is a worthy sequel to Suspiria. From my memories, I really hated the movie but seeing it again after all this time I’m really taken by it and will be adding it to my DVD collection. It does get on my nerves in a lot of places, but over all I dug it. It looks amazing on the new 47 inch Vizio we got, a lot better than I remember it on the regular old Zenith back home.
In conclusion, thank you to fellow blogger, dear friend, and international man of mystery, J.P. Thorn for hooking me up with the pics. I have some sort of virus on the computer that hijacks pretty much all google searches and he was kind enough to hook me up with the amazing images you have just seen. Please follow his blog The Horror Booth because he’s a damn good writer and if you like my stuff you’re bound to like his.
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