Inferno (1980)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - Italy   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Though confusingly plotted, director Dario Argento's Inferno is a stylish, scary thriller that is considered a semi-sequel to Argento's Suspiria. While Inferno does not come close to that 1977 classic, it is significant for its collaboration of two Italian masters of cinema: Argento and Mario Bava, who helped to design several great set pieces and created the transformation scene at the film's conclusion. As with most of Argento's pictures, the visuals leave the strongest impression, especially when combined with the fantastic sound effects. One great shot depicts the killer approaching the camera in the distorted reflection of a broken doorknob. Another arresting image is that of a woman's body tearing through a curtain and falling at star Leigh McCloskey's feet. The murders themselves are brutal, but beautifully shot and impossible to turn away from. Irene Miracle's killing at the hands of the faceless killer is exceptional: He pulls her across a window frame and forms a crude guillotine with the pane of glass serving as a blade. Argento's script is very strong conceptually and features a great ending, but his weaknesses lie in the logic and sequencing. Early scenes jump confusingly from New York to Rome and characters aren't always well defined. Another negative is that the cast is bland, and often appear to be onscreen simply to serve one bloody purpose: to kill or be killed. All that aside, the film as a whole maintains a strong visual impact (such as cats darting into the shadows or a striking young woman stroking a cat in McCloskey's music class) that all work to carry the film. The mystery at the film's core -- the identity of the Three Mothers -- is compelling, and Argento and Bava's collaboration to create the fiery finish does not disappoint.