Directed By: Dario Argento
Starring: Irene Miracle, Leigh McCloskey, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi, Sacha Pitoeff, Ania Pieroni
Synopsis: Mark comes to New York to investigate his sister’s disappearance and connection with the Three Mothers.
Thoughts: When it comes to Italian horror, there are a few names that most recognize as the cream of the crop. Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Mario Bava have given us countless hours of terror, atmosphere and gore. I’ve seen a good chunk of Argento’s work, but Inferno was one of the last ones. It is the second installment of the Three Mothers Trilogy, a loosely connected tale of three infamous witches. While Inferno came fairly soon after Suspiria, it took quite a while for Mother of Tears to come out (2007 to be exact).
While the acting in Inferno reminds me of a lot of Italian horror from the late 70s and early 80s, it seemed to be missing something. There just wasn’t a standout performance to be found. Leigh McCloskey, who plays Mark, is veteran of small TV roles. There wasn’t anything wrong with his performance, but it just didn’t leave an impression. I guess what I am saying is this movie really could have used John Saxon!
Although Argento is revered in horror circles, he is third on my list of Italians, trailing Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci. He’s got several movies that I love (Tenebrae being my favorite), but I tend to enjoy the other’s movies more. Interestingly enough, Mario Bava did a fair amount of work on Inferno, as a second unit director and consultant to Argento. If I were to rank Inferno amongst Argento’s works, it would be somewhere in the middle. While it has the trademark Argento visuals and a great soundtrack, the story is a bit of a mess. I thought it meandered quite a bit, tied together with style and over the top kills. Although he would make a handful of great movies after Inferno, I thought it showed some of the same flaws as his recent movies. It’s also worth noting that Argento was very ill while filming this movie. He was in constant pain while dealing with a nasty bought of hepatitis, sometimes having to direct while on his back in a bed!
As you can probably tell, Inferno isn’t real high on my list of Argento movies. It’s worth watching for the visuals and soundtrack, as well as a pretty sweet climax, but there are a lot better Argento movies out there. If you are just starting with Argento’s work, stick with Suspira, Profondo Rosso and Tenebrae. Inferno is best reserved for a deeper dive into his work.