September 15, 2008

Review: Dario Argento's Inferno (1980)
Sub-Genre- Witches, man, Witches.
Cast Members of Note- Long time Argento star and Asia's mom, Daria Nicolodi.

Rose likes to read. When she picks a new book about witches entitled The Three Mothers, she realizes that her apartment building is home to one of them, and so like any normal, rational human being would, she starts poking around in her business. Who wouldn't go into a creepy basement looking for proof of a witch's existence? And when you find a hole in the basement that's filled with water and old artifacts, wouldn't you dive in and look around? Me too.

This damned book ruins everything!
She sends a letter about it to her brother Mark (who is about as smart as a box of rocks), and he decides, "Hey, I'll go help her out. Who needs to live anyways!" He heads to New York, which oddly looks a lot like Rome, and finds a copy of The Three Mothers for himself. He too has the "I'll just snoop around in this dark creepy basement" gene that his sister did, and so even more retardation ensues.

Maybe I should go snoop around some more...
Plenty of people die, which at least keeps the witch busy, because she does NOTHING else for the entire movie. Seriously, doesn't she have some evil plan or something? Can't she start a coven, or set out to kill everyone in Soho, or the lower east side? Lazy Witch! I won't spoil the rest of the movie for you here, mainly because it confused me too much.
Yeah, that's the level of confusion I'm talking about.
This is a stunning film visually; Argento has long proven himself not just filmmaker, but artist in that aspect of his career. The way he moves his camera and sets up his scenes; his angles; what he decides to show and not show us, and the way he does it all... brilliant. Everything else visual aside, his use of colors alone is outstanding. The reds, the bright blues, He pleases our eye, which inadvertently makes our brain uneasy with panic and fear, all of which leaves us satisfied, and in many cases, thoroughly creeped out.

Don't even get me started on how good his use of music is. He absolutely understands that the sonic aspect of film is as important as the visual. Logic however, for the most part, goes out the fucking window. It's alright though, because Hollywood gives us plenty of very logical, linear movies that make us feel absolutely nothing; they follow the pattern of plot device and always wrap things up all neat and tidy for us. God forbid we have to figure out or imagine some things for ourselves.

This scene would never happen in a Hollywood movie.
Though you could argue that Argento's films (and many Italian Horror films for that matter) are messy and ridiculous, explain to me how they always manage to be effective? Often times they make you feel dirty and creeped out, and they never let go of your attention visually, sonically, or viscerally. Poor acting; bad dubbing; plenty of "Huh?" moments; definitely some "WTF?" moments; dead-on atmospheric music; methodical pacing; in-your-face, unrelenting violence and gore; odd camera angles; bold, statement-making use of color; an ever impending feeling of doom and dread; and genuine creepy moments... That is the mother F'ing beauty of Italian Horror; sometimes it's not very good, but it's always brilliant.

If you understand that sentence, then you are a true Horror fan. If you don't, keep trying.

So silly, and yet, so creepy.
Those poor cats! Then again, they were evil. Still though... those poor kitties!

Knowing the jig was up, Whiskers froze in place, hoping the old man would think him some sort of furry statue.
Cat violence on humans, humans drowning cats, stabbings, a knife through the neck, throat slashing... It's an Argento flick, which means that the blood flows freely in this one!

That's what you get for helping people!
Other than some small 70's style boobies visible through a wet shirt, nada.

Sexiest Italian witch ever!
"There are mysterious parts in that book, but the only true mystery is that our very lives are governed by dead people."

Wait, what?

Argento rules. Italian Horror, though it often makes little sense, also rules. Witches are pretty cool too.

Very Giallo-ish.
For the uninitiated, and I'm guessing that's a lot of people, Inferno is a crazy exercise in early 80's Italian Horror. Check your logic receptors at the door, sit back, and take it all in; just give this one a chance. You won't be sorry.


Inferno is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

Ania Pieroni (above) wasn't the only Hottie in this movie; we can't forget about Irene Miracle and Elenora Giorgi.

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