Inferno (1980)

Inferno (1980)

“There are mysterious parts in that book — but the only true mystery is that our very lives are governed by dead people.”

A poet (Irene Miracle) living in NYC writes to her brother (Leigh McCloskey) in Rome, telling him about a mysterious book she’s purchased from a vendor (Sacha Pitoëff) about three “mothers” ruling the Earth. Soon both Miracle and McCloskey are on the hunt for more evidence, putting their own and others’ lives at risk.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Alida Valli Films
  • Dario Argento Films
  • Horror Films
  • Serial Killer

Dario Argento’s follow-up to Suspiria (1977) was this disappointing horror flick with a nearly nonsensical “plot” but (of course) plenty of atmosphere and colorful sets. As Stuart Galbraith IV writes in his review for DVD Talk, the film’s “stylishness comes at the expense of coherence”, making it hard to follow (or care about) any of the characters — who, as noted by Stomp Tokyo’s reviewers, “no matter how obvious it is that their lives are in danger… just keep doing whatever they were doing until they die.” The most baffling and disturbing sequence (among many) involves a cat-hating man who’s eventually eaten by rats; while we can’t help feeling he’s gotten his just desserts, it’s deeply unpleasant to watch him. Watch for Alida Valli in a thankless supporting role that does her no favors.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Colorful, atmospheric sets and cinematography

Must See?
Nope; you can most definitely skip this one. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.


5 thoughts on “Inferno (1980)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Fine followup to Suspiria (1977) is surreal but mesmerising, looks a peach (Romano Albani, sounds a peach (Kieth Emerson) and continues the Three Mothers story based on Thomas de Quincy writing in fine style.

    Sure, it doesn’t always make sense but that’s Italian dream logic horror for you. It’s all about the atmosphere and mood which this has in spades. It’s not up to Suspiria but that’s no surprise. Obviously, not an essential film for FFs.

  2. I just had a gander over at Stuart Galbraith’s website and found this quote:

    “As we have mentioned in our review of Cemetery Man, we are not big fans of European gore films, or giallo …”

    I wouldn’t really use Galbraith as a standard on this as he comes from a standpoint of disliking this genre, which is all very well but this site needs to encourage the trying and viewing of all films to a point. By all means give these films negative reviews (Peary certainly does) but it might also be good to link to positive reviews because Italian horror and giallos etc are an acquired taste but a significant sub genre of horror and genre cinema that need to be considered.

    Perhaps linking to reviews by the likes of Kim Newman would be good to act as counterpoint.

  3. I hadn’t heard of Kim Newman’s site – I’m glad to know of it!

    DVD Savant is a huge fan of Mario Bava, and I do link to him regularly.

    Stuart Galbraith IV’s review of “Inferno” actually does include quite a bit of praise, which I’ll add in here for context:

    “At its best the movie’s major set pieces capture the hypnotic sensations of dreams and nightmares better than just about any movie ever made…”

    “Though the film’s interiors don’t look remotely realistic, and in the case of the New York settings like nothing found anywhere in America, let alone New York, they’re nonetheless very imaginatively designed for maximum creepiness, and obvious effort has been exerted to make almost every scene powerfully scary and/or disturbing.”

    “The underwater ballroom sequence works best. It captures the essence of dreams and nightmares: the floating sensation, the mixture of the familiar and the unknown, the hypnotic, natural sounds of water, etc.”

    “Horror movies are rarely this dream-like, and for its gorgeous images alone Inferno deserves to be seen even by non-horror movie fans… Highly Recommended.”

  4. The link I saw rated it ⭐️ Out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

    I shall have to have a gander. Dream logic horror is an acquired taste and Argento actively gets his ideas from his dreams; he’s much more concerned with mood, visuals and underlying plot than characters, dialogue and story.

    I think if the FF wants very solid development in narrative, character and places performances high on the list priorities then they’ll not get much out of Argento.

  5. First viewing. Not must-see. Only for Argento fans; they know who they are.

    Frankly, I was bored. The flick is longer than it needs to be for the ‘story’ that it’s telling. The ‘dream logic’ soon becomes ponderous. The focus is on dumb / cheap scares, some of them laughable.

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