• Inferno (Blue Underground Blu-ray)

    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: 3/29/2011
    Director: Dario Argento
    Cast: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi, Sacha Pitoeff, Gabriele Lavia
    Year: 1980
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    The Movie:

    Dario Argento's follow up to Suspiria stars Irene Miracle as a young woman named Rose who comes into possession of a strange old book called The Three Mothers. Written ages ago by an alchemist who tells of a coven of witches known with operations in Rome, Freiburg and, where Rose lives, New York City the tome puts a seed into her head - she starts to believe that the apartment building that she lives in may actually be the base of the Mother Of Darkness, one of the three mothers discussed in the book.

    When Rose discovers that the basement of the building has flooded and that there's a dead body floating around down there, she decides to write her brother, Mark (Leigh McClosky), in Rome in hopes that he'll show up and help her figure out just what exactly is going on in New York City. Through a strange series of circumstances, however, Mark doesn't get the letter in time and when he does make his way to New York City he finds that his sister has gone missing. As he makes his way through the massive apartment building that she lived in, he tries to piece everything together in doing so starts to uncover the truth about his sister's disappearance and the Mother Of Darkness herself.

    Expanding on the mythology he co-created with Daria Nicoladi with Suspiria years before, Inferno is a beautifully made film rich with surrealist arcane imagery and gorgeous color schemes. The plot isn't always riveting but the picture makes up for that with some beautiful compositions and a twisted, dark atmosphere. Argento's obsession with architecture plays a big part in the film's look and feel, with the Manhattan apartment building where so much of the picture unfolds sometimes taking on a life of its own. The whole bizarre ball of wax is set to an equally oddball score from Keith Emerson which, while not quite as impressive or memorable as Goblin's instantly recognizable work on Surpiria, suits the dreamlike ambience of the film very effectively.

    Commonly criticized for not making much sense, the storyline for Inferno really isn't all that complicated, though the narrative structure is strange enough that it's easy to see how it might put some people off. That said, in defense of the film it's actually pretty easy to keep up with so long as you're willing to take what it offers at face value and fill in the blanks yourself. Performance wise, the cast are fine. This isn't a movie filled with mind blowing performances or particularly amazing acting but both McClosky and Miracle do just fine in their respective leads. Supporting turns from Eleanora Giorgi and Sacha Piteoff round out the cast well and Dario Nicoladi's cameo is interesting and enjoyable.

    Easily dismissed, like a fair bit of Argento's work, as an exercise in style over substance, Inferno is actually a very effective ‘nightmare on film.' You do have to invest a certain amount of yourself in the picture so on that level it isn't going to work the same way for everyone but it's visually flawless, quite thrilling, and it all builds to such a fantastic finale that it's hard to see how Argento's fan base couldn't appreciate it. Like so much of what Argento made before and after it isn't for all tastes but if you've got an appreciation for surrealist horror, Inferno really does turn out to be a bit of a masterpiece.


    Blue Underground releases Inferno on Blu-ray in a strong AVC encoded 1080p 1.85.1 widescreen transfer. Detail is strong across the board with excellent color reproduction and nice, deep black levels. Close up shots are fantastic, allowing you to take in all the detail the source will allow for, while a healthy coat of grain provides a pretty film like image. Skin tones look nice and natural and there are no problems with compression artifacts, heavy edge enhancement or digital scrubbing to complain about. Compared to the Arrow Blu-ray that came out last year (and which contains a pretty impressive array of exclusive extras not carried over to this release) the image is slightly cooler in tone and color reproduction and a bit improved in detail and clarity.

    The primary mix on this disc a an English language DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio mix, though English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX, English Dolby Surround Stereo and Italian language Dolby Digital Mono mixes are also included. The 7.1 track has the most punch, which isn’t going to surprise anyone, and it spreads the score around very effectively throughout the film. Tight, strong bass keeps the low end punchy and gives the score and effects the power they need without overshadowing the dialogue. The standard definition tracks also sound fine and they’re there for those who want them, but the DTS-HD track on this disc is the one to go for. Optional English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

    The extras on this disc start off with a brief intro from Argento that plays before the film, but more interesting than that is the fifteen minute Art & Alchemy featurette which is basically an interview with actor Leigh McCloskey who speaks about working on this picture, it’s notoriously quirky director and what his experiences were like. He also tells us how he got into acting in the first place and about his work as an artist. Reflections Of Rose is a thirteen minute interview with actress Irene Miracle that follows suit and allows her to reflect on making this picture, among others, while the eight minute interview with Dario Argento and assistant director Lamberto Bava gives us a more technical look at the film’s origins.

    Rounding out the extra on the disc are the film’s original theatrical trailer, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    While not as extras laden as the Arrow release, Blue Underground’s Blu-ray release of Inferno is a pretty excellent release in its own right, offering up a slightly better transfer and a few exclusive extras not found anywhere else. The film itself remains one of Argento’s best and it’s truly a picture that benefits from an HD upgrade what with its wild colors and intricate sets and locations. A fairly mystifying and captivating film, Inferno comes recommended to any fan of Argento’s work.

    Click on the images below for full size Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mike T's Avatar
      Mike T -
      You could have at least got Miracle's nipple in shot in that fourth capture! Sheesh...