Dario Argento's sequel to Suspiria, his first and to date only American hit, is an even more incoherent nightmare fantasy. Laden with symbolic imagery and fantastic explosions of death shot in candy-colored hues, it's a bl... more »oody feast for the eyes. Mark (Leigh McCloskey), an American music student in Rome, rushes home to New York after a frantic phone call from his sister only to find an empty apartment and obscure clues about a supernatural presence in her spooky building. It all has something to do with the mysterious Mater Tenebrarum, one of the "Three Mothers" of Argento's murky mythology, and the fun house of an apartment house she inhabits, complete with a fully furnished underwater ballroom, miles of secret tunnels flooded in red and blue light, and hidden passageways under the floorboards. Meanwhile, there's a killer running around stabbing beautiful women for who knows what reason, a crippled bookseller attacked by rats, and a homicidal hot-dog vendor in Central Park. Why? It's best not to ponder such mysteries--Argento obviously isn't as concerned with making sense of his meticulously staged murders as he is with lighting them with just the right hue. Dramatically it's inert, a parade of quirky but faceless victims dispatched with elaborate care, but it's beautifully designed and executed, a spectacle of elaborate set pieces and magnificent decor orchestrated with a complete disdain for narrative logic. --Sean Axmaker« less
Jefferson N. from BLAIRSVILLE, GA Reviewed on 9/16/2009...
Inferno is the second chapter in Dario Argento's "Three Mother's Trilogy". The first was Suspiria and the concluding chapter is the newer Mother of Tears. In this movie, a young woman living in a strange building in New York City buys a book on alchemy. Shortly, she has the feeling she is being stalked and finds a sunken mauseleum in her buildings basement. She contacts her brother in Italy, who is also having strange visions and encounters. Soon, a plague of murders begins and Mark, the brother, goes to New York to talk to his missing sister. When he arrives at the building he is drawn into the intrigues that surround the edifice of corruption.
While it's predecesor is widely praised as being one of Argento's masterpieces for it's oddd, jangling music and surreal film quality, I find this one is overlooked unjustly. This entire movie has a dreamy, claustrophobic feeling that is more oppressive in my estimation than Suspiria had. And the surreal sunken room sequence (orchestrated by Mario Bava, by the way) has to be one of the best scenes in any Argento film.
The next section may have some spoilers, so if you're not interested, don't read any further...
This episode of the Mother's trilogy focues on Mother Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkeness. The imprisoned Suspiriorum escaped at the conclusion of Suspiria, and now Tenebrarum wants to make her exit as well. And she is far more brutal that Mater Suspiriorum. Where as Mater Suspiriorum only wreaks havoc on a scale large enough to effect her escape and focuses on the witches who use her, Tenebrarum is hostile to start with and will kill anyone who falls in her path. I'm not sure where the story goes from here, but the ending left it open for a final confrontation with the hero, Mark, Mater Lacrymarum, and the alchemists who imprisoned the Three Mothers to start with.
If you have seen and liked any of Argento's 1970/1980's masterpieces, you'll love this one as well.
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Argento at his most barking mad!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my own favourite Argento movie, but if you try and work out the plot it will drive you nuts. It's best viewed as a dark and incredibly gory fairytale and companion-piece to Suspiria. Irene Miracle becomes curious about the history of the old New York mansion block where she lives. Big mistake, but oh forget the logic. Just lap up the marvellous set-pieces: a swim through an underwater apartment (why is it flooded? don't even ask!), a witchy teenager and a cat who materialise during a music tutorial, a slasher murder set to the Slave's Chorus from Nabucco, a rat attack in Central Park - I could go on but see it for yourself. The soundtrack is an audacious blend of Verdi and - wait for it - Keith Emerson. Sheer bliss."
Great Soundtrack! Great film!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The soundtrack - it's Nabucco by Verdi alternating with Keith Emerson, who at one point does a twangy modern rock version of the famous Slave's Chorus, Va Pensiero! This is a film of magical, atmospheric and occasionally very gory set-pieces rather than any logical narrative, so anyone looking for a pacy plot where everything is explained at the end will be severely disappointed. The story deals with the second of the Three Mothers first mentioned in Suspiria and flits between New York, where a young woman discovers that the Art Deco apartment block where she lives harbours a deep, dark secret, and Rome, where her brother is a music student who is blissfully unaware that he and his friends are about to enter a world of pain. Watching it is like being immersed in a deliciously scary nightmare where you never quite understand what's going on."
Hypnotic, stylish, atmospheric horror masterpiece
J from NY | New York | 10/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dario Argento has made some of the most captivating, brilliant horror movies I have ever seen, and I absolutely love and devour horror movies, old and new. "Inferno" is no exception; it holds your attention from start to finish, and if you weren't fascinated by it, you have to be a pretty dull person. So the plot is not crystal clear,who cares? Argento has never specialized in the plot department. But, contrary to what many people think, Argento's movies DO have substance are not just fanciful exercises in style. Argento, more than any horror director I've ever seen, evokes a sense of the marvelous and otherworldly:his films point away from the commonplace, the ordinary, and push us in the direction of the unknown. Half the people who bash this movie probably couldn't take their eyes off it while it was actually playing. True, some of the dialogue is ludicrous and the scene at the end with the 'grim reaper' was absurd, but the sheer magic and intrigue of the movie make its flaws unimportant. Argento is to horror cinema what Lovecraft, Poe or Kafka are to horror literature. I find it hard to believe that the 'fans' who dismiss this movie because of qualms they have over it 'not making sense' or the incomprehensible nature of the plot were Argento fans to begin with: the premise of the movie is neither more nor less ludicrous than the plots of his other movies. Argento's work is not meant to be logically coherent or rational, but to penetrate the mystical, shadowy side of existence. You will never see a more visually stunning or visionary horror movie. Don't just rent this movie, buy it."
Shaun Anderson | Nottingham/Hereford, England, UK | 11/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In the wake of "Suspiria", where Dario Argento fully committed to the visual and aesthetic possibilities of the horror genre, narrative took a back seat. Gone were the days of the tightly plotted whodunits such as "Bird with the Crystal Plumage" and "Deep Red". "Inferno" is symptomatic of a cinematic approach in which narrative is subservient to and in service to increasingly grand visual set pieces. "Inferno" more so than any horror film marked the eventual path the genre would take in the 1980's. "Inferno" isn't however devoid of narrative, but making sense of it is not the paramount concern of the spectator. The theme of alchemy acts as an effective metaphor for the film as whole, as Argento throws in tried and tested ingredients to create something that is startlingly dark and baroque. "Inferno's" narrative problems however are not it's undoing, it's as if Argento realises by the very nature of the genre that his major concern is the realisation of another world; in this case a gloomy and gothic netherworld in which the forces of evil are much closer than one expects. Full of spectacular and senseless violence "Inferno" reconstitutes the gothic form (made quaint and redundant by Hammer) and gives it a unique Italian sensibility."
Surrealism and Expressionism's Journey to Hell
The Straw Man | Aloof October on April's Birthday | 05/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Inferno is the second film of Dario Argento's unfinished "The Three Mothers" trilogy (while Suspiria is the first film). This film is classic Argento with its brilliant cinematography, abrasive yet eerie soundtrack (which seems out of place in certain scenes), brutal/bizarre deaths and sub par acting. Argento has stated that the actors aren't the focus of his films; rather the environment, mood, story and technical aspects are the potent force behind his masterpieces.
One thing about this movie that I found totally surreal and almost fantasy like was the lighting. The illumination in this giallo creates an ambient and nebulous setting, which is very unique. The light gels and/or set design in Inferno paint a mood in just about every scene. These moods vary from precarious (yellow) to foreboding (blue) then tranquil (green) to wrath (red) and back to enigmatic (purple). This type of movie making magic really plays a huge part in the film. I've shown Inferno to people before and they might not have liked the movie, but were impressed with the lighting and cinematography.
As for the plot, well it is somewhat lackluster. Mark, who is schooling in Europe, receives a letter from his sister Rose, who lives in New York. Rose's letter has a sense of bereavement to it, in regards to the apartment she is living. Rose believes that there are some clairvoyant or supernatural forces at work. Therefore, this sends Mark to The Big Apple to console his sister. However, this is the beginning of Mark's disconsolate hardships. He seems to be putting a puzzle together that doesn't want to solved.
Inferno might have to be witnessed more than once to fully digest what has transpired. However, I have seen it about a dozen times and I still don't know if I fully "get it". In other words, the movie can be a bit confusing. There are also some parts of the film that "drag on", but it doesn't take away from the overall effect of the movie. One of the best scenes is the underwater sequence, which is just plain eerie. There is one scene that involves cats. I love cats and having them as pets, might make this scene a bit hard to watch. Nevertheless, many aspects of Argento's films have a "pseudo-fake" quality about them, so you always know in the back of your head that what is happening on the screen isn't real.
As formally noted, Dario Argento's "The Three Mothers" trilogy is currently uncompleted. However, the third film is supposed to be completed and released by October 2007. The name of the movie is "The Third Mother". I do hope this is fact and not a rumor."