Inferno (1980)

Hey, remember that time I wrote movie reviews? I know! Sadly, as Walker Stalker Con approaches and I deal with my new job, I’ve entered this crazy state of stress. I needed something beautiful to watch so I chose Inferno, Dario Argento’s 1980 movie. Like John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy, where the movies are thematically connected but don’t share characters, Inferno is part of Argento’s The Three Mothers series. Suspiria is the first in the series, dealing with the Mother of Sighs, Inferno is the second, and The Mother of Tears is the third movie.


I have to warn you up front that this movie doesn’t really make a lick of sense. It’s a glorious, beautiful journey, but there’s no straightforward way to describe it.
Irene Miracle stars as Rose Elliott, a poet living alone in New York City.

She purchases an old book, The Three Mothers, and learns how just like there are Three Furies, Three Graces, and Three Fates, there are Three Mothers. The Three Mothers are ancient, evil, and powerful witches. Mater Susperiorum is the Mother of Sighs from Suspiria. Mater Tenebrarum, Mother of Darkness, is the middle and most cruel sister.

Mater Lachrymarum, the Mother of Tears, is the youngest and most powerful of the sisters. Rose learns that an architect, Varelli (Feodor Chaliapin Jr.), built houses for the Three Mothers and suspects that she is living in one of them.

Rose reaches out to her brother, Mark (Leigh McCloskey). Horrible fates befall anyone who investigates the house and The Three Mothers. Mark’s friend, Sara (Eleonora Giorgi), is stabbed after reading a letter from Rose to Mark that he left behind in their class. Rose is brutally guillotined by a sheet of glass.

This is pretty much all of a summary I can give. Not a lot in this movie makes sense but it’s a very fun, beautiful journey.
There are definitely some motifs carried over from Suspiria. These include candy-colored lighting, especially pink and red, colored glass-work, and death by glass. The music is gorgeous but quite different from Suspiria. Instead of working with longtime collaborator Goblin, Argento had Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer compose the music. As a result, the music is less synth-driven and more bombastic. It sounds like a crazy Verdi opera. I really liked this section;

The movie also falls back on some Dario Argento and Mario Bava themes, like the killer in the black gloves. It’s not a Bava film without some creep in black gloves. This makes sense since Bava collaborated with Argento in a number of uncredited roles for this movie.
This movie is gorgeous, tense, and dreamlike but I don’t recommend it for anyone looking for a straightforward slasher.
My last note on this is that I watched this on Hulu. Hulu sucks for taking screencaps. There have been times when I’m watching Hulu when they offered a chance to watch all the ads up front and then I can watch the rest of my program uninterrupted. I sincerely wish they’d offered me that chance with this since watching something like fifteen ads broke up the tension.

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About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1980's, foreign, slasher, supernatural and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Inferno (1980)

  1. crazycanuck says:

    Argento, a good choice, considering I watched this recently. I’d seen this before and remember liking it but could only remember certain scenes, the hilarious skeleton at the end! No wonder I didn’t remember the plot, there isn’t much of one, just kind of a theme that runs through it. Still it’s Dario and you just have to go for the ride and the visuals are marvelous. Good luck with the job and Stalker, I’m jealous…Christmas with no Walkers.

    • scarina says:

      The skeleton! I really thought about whether I should include the skeleton but I finally decided, no, let the viewers discover that for themselves. Mater Tenebrarum, the worst of the three mothers, scourge of Party City. Will attack you with a skeleton on a track.
      I try not to think when I watch some of Argento’s movies, just enjoy the pretty moving pictures and prog rock.
      Thanks! Christmas with no Walkers is like St. Sigmund’s day without the headless boy.

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