• Dario Argento’s Inferno is the second leg in The Three Mothers trilogy starting with Suspiria in 1977 and finally culminating in Mother of Tears in 2007.

This is already Argento’s seventh film- his debut was in 1970. Sadly, he is no longer making films in the wider aspect ratio – this is back in the standard 1.85 : 1.

Rainy nights and alchemy—the bold neon expressionism in the yellow and red lights off the actor’s face could be right out of Suspiria- immaculate work here.

There is very little dialogue- probably a good thing- but it Argento still dials up the set pieces.

auteur cinema – The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Argento’s debut, has a very similar composition

  • The blue radiating lighting in the basement of the library- Argento is at his best when his models/actors are searching through unnerving dark rooms with gothic production design and bold illumination patterns. The same idea happens when the fuse goes out at Sarah’s apartment before she is attacked.
  • Argento alternates the story’s setting between New York and Rome but it is all shot in Italy. He uses different colors to mark the sequences in Italy and New York. Again, medieval funhouses with lots of blood, elaborate deaths and beautiful women. The lead actress, unfortunately, is a total non-entity—it would have been great if Alida Valli (The Third Man, Senso) had been more aligned in age with Argento for a collaboration. He could have used an actor of her abilities (she plays a small role here as Carol the caretaker).
  • It is strange that the film is 106 minutes long and 10-15 of those are spent watching Kazanian (played by Sacha Pitoëff) drowning a bag of cats.
  • There is a great scene of the apartment getting an autopsy (like the end of The Conversation) before heading downstairs with a blaring rock opera playing (by Keith Emerson) and a red light like from the trunk in Goodfellas.
  • In another set up there is a fixed colored lighting between the two actors—blue and pink hues in the book store.

With all due respect to Emerson and Romano Albani—this is a major step down in collaborators from Suspiria’s Goblin (music) and Luciano Tovoli (cinematographer)

  • Mario Bava was given a “special thanks” credit but is said to have been very hands on for much of the shoot.
  • Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1980