Inferno

Inferno ★★★★½

Horror of 1980 / Horror of the 80's / Top 100

So... I just rewatched Roger Corman's superlative, underrated The Masque of the Red Death yesterday and I guess without knowing the exact whywithall, during the viewing, my mind plotted out my next few movies ahead of time. This was the first one to pop in there. What significance I didn't ask, but the similarities are pretty obvious- the texture of the color of almost every wall in Rose's apartment building is extremely waxy. Also, several characters wield candles throughout the running time. Then, and I doubt this spoils the ending in any major way since it's both an Argento film and 2nd feature in a trilogy following Suspiria (which I've always theorized has the supernatural "Death is Watching" bullseye marker placing victims on a makeshift list as they get more involved with the main protagonists or deeper into the killer's / main villains' occult-related schemes, much like the previous year's The Omen), the presence of a figure of death in more than just the film's advertising, poster art. Here, a cloaked / hooded gentleperson.

Argento's Inferno branches all that thematic hoodoo out into fascinating, wild new directions with a lunar eclipse signalling lapses in connective human sanity waves / controlled impulses, sunny day, tan-sand drowned-beach dreams (the film takes place most entirely in The Big Apple), a little Rosemary's Baby spiked medicine, a whole Black Bramfordesque staff of devious hang-arounders (including a butler who has a distinct Bela Lugosi-Dracula vibe), and a great deal of animal mania (cats, rats, ants, a bird). To say nothing of Ania Pieroni's character, who walks in (out of a vampy, as-yet-unphotographed 80's fashion magazine cover, ala-Joanna Pacula in The Kiss or Barbara Carrera in Wicked Stepmother; all that's missing is the leopard-print wrap / shawl) to preview the handiwork of the upcoming "Third Mother" character, Mater Lachrymarum. Reminding us that, of the 3, Mater Tenebrarum here is perhaps unwise spending so much time out in public compared to the other 2 wicked sisters. I get the Best Place to Hide is in a Crowd mentality, but... She's mingling. With other assorted baddies.

Stop mingling, Sister.

(I'm actually going to semi-spoil a part of the film in a second, so, get ready for that.)

There's no question that this is another one of Argento's greatest cinematic triumphs in a long line. I didn't really see that before. Blue Underground's DTS-ified Special Edition helped me to see that. The colors start out on the pale side - especially pinks (which I assume were intended to be reds) and blues - to get more glowing, more radiant and darker, deeper as the film progresses. (Lots of red.) (Not so much green, I noticed.) Keith Emerson's music took a little getting used to at first, but the piano themes are fantastic.

Real film of characters, this. The Book Binder (is he cooking wax in those cauldrons?) and the Maniac Hot Dog Vendor are almost cartoons come to life by the light of Argento's Aurora Borealis sky. (I wish the latter had returned in subsequent Argento efforts. Then I have to remember that these are films, not comic books.)

To: The Evil Dead, The Shining, An American Werewolf in London, The Thing, Hellraiser, Poltergeist, The Howling, The Fog, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Bad Taste, Opera, Creepshow, Gremlins, Evil Dead II, The Fly, Killer Klowns from Outer Space

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