Archive for the ‘Dario Argento’ Tag

Inferno (1980)   Leave a comment

Location, location, location.


“I wonder where Steven Marcato lives.”

A beautiful woman, Rose (Irene Miracle) buys a book from an antiques dealer. She’s irresistibly drawn to the basement, as one is, and she searches for something (?) in the the surrealistic cellar, only to lose her keys in a flooded sub floor full of dead bodies.


“No way this place passes inspection.”

Cut to Rose’s brother, Mark (Leigh McCloskey), a music student living in Rome, who sees a sexy spirit petting a cat in class.


This is the most normal thing that happens in the film.

All through the film, people keep looking for, finding, and stealing The Three Mothers, a book dealing with witches living in cursed houses in Freiburg, Rome, and New York. I have no idea why. Apparently, having the book gives the reader some kind of power—like a Necronomicon Ex-Mortis or something. I can’t be sure. All I know is the search for the books led characters into some sketchy digs. First, there’s Rose in the cellar lagoon. Then, there’s Mark’s girlfriend who lives in the Rome house, who climbs down into the basement of a library and walks, voluntarily, into a dank room full of cauldrons boiling over high flames lorded over by a wizard-y guy. She manages to make it out of there without getting a face burn, but things don’t end well for her.


“Is this where you return the overdue books?”

Mark ends up traveling to New York to help his sister, who lives in the Big Apple branch of the coven’s real estate holdings. It’s a large building with about four gigantic apartments in it. Alida Valli runs the place and it’s clear she hired the same decorator who did the school in Suspiria. In the building, Mark meets the countess and separately, they search the bowels of the building because walking around in a scary place alone, unarmed, and wearing your best outfit is always a good plan. Also, it’s totally normal for a New York City apartment building to have a completely empty wing.


“It’s probably rent-controlled.”

Bad things happen to pretty much everyone in this film, but no one gets a worse deal than the antiques dealer, who sets out to drown some cats in a bag. He has a bad leg and walks with crutches so carrying the burlap sack full of cats is tough for him. *sad violin* Anyway, he trips on an animal he was attempting to kill and…I won’t spoil it, but it’s ghastly. I watched this in the theatre and oddly, the crowd was not on his side.


Anti-cat shop.

A scary witchlike individual who could use some moisturizer and a manicure, cruises around grabbing people and closing windows on their necks.


“You couldn’t have used a little Jergens?”

I’m all for that, but it was hard to discern a meaning from any of these goings-on. It might have helped if I spoke Italian or if the subtitles, apparently written by a drunk person unfamiliar with horror films, English, or words in general, made any sense at all. In fact, they became so convoluted, the theatre chose to skip the whole thing and just play the film without them. They told us about it beforehand, so we knew what we were in for. The film continues, people run away from the evil being, things catch fire, and before you know it, the film is over. Huzzah!


“Some paint and a light dusting and it’ll be fine.”

Dario Argento meant Inferno as a sequel to Suspiria, but he forgot he needed a story and just ran with it anyway.  Despite the shambolic plot, Inferno entertains. It’s nowhere near as good as Suspiria, but there are some original kills and the sets are gorgeous. Maurizio Garrone was part of the set decoration team on both films. I liked the crazy Dali-esque basements with precariously-balanced chairs and stuffed lizards strewn about. I half-expected to see a melting clock.


Nice gator.

Though not a fantastic film, Inferno is a good time. See it on the big screen if you can.


The Three Mothers: Mater Suspiriorum (Mother of Sorrows), Mater Lachrymarum (Mother of Tears), and Mater Tenebrarum (Mother of Darkness).

Thus endeth the lesson.

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Suspiria (1977)   Leave a comment

sus

American Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) travels to Germany to enroll in Joan Bennett’s snooty ballet school. Run by Alida Valli, who looks like she might be hiding there to avoid prosecution for war crimes, the school seems to favor gossip and whispering over dance.

alida
“Quit being blind!”

Right away, things at the school go awry. Students die in ghastly ways, maggots appear, and Suzy passes out after a nasty dizzy spell…with blood. As she recuperates, Suzy starts to suspect the ballet academy serves as a front for a more nefarious institution.

face
So much for orientation.

Dario Argento directed Suspiria and wrote the screenplay along with Daria Nicolodi and based it on Thomas De Quincey’s book. The spare dialogue and simple plot strewn with narrative distractions is just the canvas Argento uses to paint his story. If not for the appropriately jarring music by Goblin, you could easily turn off the sound and just watch this bizarre and colorful film. Don’t turn off the sound though. The soundtrack is amazing.

redredred

Argento, cinematographer Luciano Tovoli, and production designer Guiseppe Bassan use richly hued sets and brightly-colored lights and lenses to paint each scene a different color. In one scene, Udo Kier wears a grass green blazer the identical shade as the building behind him. Douglas Sirk would be proud.

udo
Did you two plan this?

I enjoyed Suspiria. While the acting is fine, but not special, the visuals paired with the Tubular Bells-ish music, and gruesome, creative deaths make it a blast to watch. The spooky Rosemary’s Baby atmosphere contributed to the mood of trippy paranoia. I’ve wanted to see this cult favorite for a long time and I’m glad I finally did.

rrr
Sleepover in the redrum, I mean red room!

I wrote this piece a few years ago, but saw the film at the Coolidge Corner Theatre just last night (October 17, 2017). If you get the chance, see this on the big screen with the Goblin tunes blaring.

I originally wrote this for the 31 Days of Horror Challenge on cinemashame.wordpress.com
@cinemashame and @thirtyhertzrumble on twitter are also playing. Check out the other horror reviews on their sites. I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

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