The tale of the “Three Mothers” started with Suspiria in 1977 is continued in Inferno, released in 1980. Rose Elliot, a young poet (Irene Miracle), discovers some strange things about the building she is living in and writes her brother Mark (Leigh McCloskey) to tell him about what she has uncovered. Once Rose goes missing, Mark comes to New York City to try and figure out what has happened to her.
Dario Argento’s follow up to Suspiria is a classic case of execution over concept. Like the film before it, Inferno has a very thin plot. But that’s not what these films are about. Whether it’s the weird guy who owns the bookstore next door, or the eccentric woman with the odd valet, Mark’s adventure of discovery, much like Suzy’s in Suspiria is what drives the “plot” forward.
Irene Miracle does what she can her small and limited role. The bulk of the story revolves around McCloskey and he acquits himself nicely as the stranger in a very strange land. And this may be an odd compliment, but the looping of his own dialogue is really good in a bizarre way. There is something about the relationship between the physical performance and the vocal here that adds to the abstract quality of the film. His delivery is otherworldly, in that his performance is always sitting on the brink of disbelief. Argento regulars Dario Nicolodi and Gabriele Lavia are dubbed very strangely in two supporting roles, but do what they are asked to.
The film retains the bold lighting from the first film, as Romano Albani recreates Luciano Tovoli’s trademark lighting style from the first film only with a more “pastel” pallete. Goblin’s landmark score for Suspiria is matched by Keith Emerson’s driving compositions that accentuate the action on screen beautifully. Genre veteran and good friend of Argento, Mario Bava assisted with some of the special effects in the film, and his matte paintings are beautiful.
Blue Undeground’s Blu-ray is a revelation. The new transfer and encode on this disc are a thing of beauty. There is no evidence of DNR or edge enhancement issues and film grain is at a minimum, lending a very natural, film like appearance to the presentation. The candy colored photography is fantastically reproduced, and skin tones look natural when not bathed in the unnatural lighting. Emerson’s score sounds great, and the highs and lows in the music sound on the mark to me. The disc offers an English and Italian language options along with English, Spanish and French subtitles.
As for bonus features, the short interviews with Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava are carried over from the Anchor Bay DVD release from about a decade ago, as well as the short intro by Argento at the front of the film. New to this release are two interviews with Irene Miracle and Leigh McCloskey, both presented in HD. A theatrical trailer finishes up the bonus material.
The film wasn’t loved by the then head of Fox studios, never had a theatrical release in the United States, and was dumped onto video several years later. Blue Underground’s beautiful high definition presentation attempts to make up for that oversight some thirty years later with a fantastic release that truly takes advantage of the Blu-ray format. It is a stunning looking film and gets a solid recommendation!