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Theme Tuesday - Dario Argento - Inferno

For the month of October, the master of Giallo, Dario Argento, will be my focus, a director whose filmography I have only grazed the surface of.


Inferno finds Argento fully leaning into the supernatural, which his earlier film Suspiria really only committed to at the end. Instead of characters constantly resisting the very notion of the supernatural, the story focuses much more on the mystery of the three Mothers as first Rose, a poetry student, and then later, Mark, her boyfriend, try to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Of course, like any Argento movie, logical narrative development eventually flies out the window and the movie becomes a framing device for some spectacular murders, and they do not disappoint. A woman gets her head chopped over and over again by a dull guillotine and a man gets eaten alive by rats. And I’m damned if I can remember any of the actors and what they look like, since they are essentially there to be killed gruesomely or terrified. He needed a star like Jessica Harper (Suspiria) for this movie, but I am not sure he really wanted us to care.

The music also isn’t quite up to par as Suspiria or even most of Argento’s earlier efforts. Prog rock musician Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame composed the score, yet I did not find it nearly as evocative or interesting as Goblin’s or Ennio Morricone’s. In fact, the moment that jarred me out of this movie was when the cheesy, synth-ridden, over-the-top choir kicks in with the ‘Mater Suspirorium...etc.” Also when Death finally reveals her face...and it looks like a cheesy Halloween costume just made me laugh out loud.

Still, this movie has come a long way from Argento’s earlier efforts, and I like that he takes the time to try to develop a mythology. He also still a master of suspense and shock. The impact of an image like a murdered woman clawing her way through a paper wall is an enviable one that plenty of filmmakers should take inspiration from (and have).

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