There’s some pretty poor decision making going on in Dario Argento‘s Inferno. The dippy woman who tries to steal the most evil book this side of the Necronomicon? Be glad you only got murdered later on and didn’t get your face shoved in the pot of boiling gunk the dude with the monster claws was using to fix books with. Next time try using your library card!
The dizzy dame who managed to drop her keys down into the flooded sub basement of the old haunted apartment building and then dove in after them? Luck doesn’t begin to describe what you experienced when you managed not to drown while being attacked by rotting corpses down there! And then there is Mark’s impromptu home remodeling job.
Mark is the guy who travels all the way from Rome to New York City because of his sister’s obsession with this book about The Three Mothers. (The Three Mothers are a set of bad ass witches and one of them lives right in Mark’s sister’s apartment building!)
If you have ever lived in an apartment building, you know there are certain people that you don’t give any crap to. They’re the kind of folks you don’t piss off because you don’t want them taking your parking place, stealing your mail or calling in complaints because you have your Best of Goblin CD cranked up to 11. And the Mother of Darkness would surely fall into that category of tenant!
Everybody in this movie though seems intent on riling up this hexing hag so that she really has no choice but to turn herself into Death itself in a final, fiery fit of anger! Mark though really pours it on.
First of all, he sees a bunch of ants in his sister’s apartment and then sprays them! Dude, you’ve got the middle Mother (Suspiria dealt with the first and The Mother of Tears the third) living in your building! Is there any doubt that those are her ants?
Even worse though is that once you’ve dumped a gallon of Raid on her insect minions, you start tearing up the floor in the apartment! And then you drop down into the secret tunnels that lead into the secret room where the deranged architect who designed the building for the witch is hiding out? Surely you know that the witch has the very next secret basement apartment over!
It’s a testament to just how messed up this whole apartment building is though that a burning body that catches the whole thing on fire is what ultimately allows Mark to escape the witch’s wrath! (Memo to bad ass witch – next time you rent, think “sprinkler system”.)
But the audience of course is not so lucky! And thank goodness for that! How else would we get to experience the real life witch’s curse that Inferno is!
To be confused with seemingly pointless scenes of Mark being lead astray by a sexy chick with a pet cat is but one of the old crone’s spells to drive you insane with abject disinterest! And the movie’s fixation on the gimpy bookseller who has an abnormal hatred for cats such that he eventually bags them all up and drowns them is only the beginning of the witch’s scheme to drive us mad!
By the time it’s announced that there’s an eclipse taking place, you almost have to expect that the cook at an all night lunch wagon in the park runs across a pond to stab the guy who drowned the cats, all the while a bunch of rats were attacking the guy getting stabbed! Because nothing else would make any less sense!
There’s also long stretches where characters wander around strangely lit sets before getting stabbed, thus waking the audience up from its combination bored and confused stupor at irregular intervals. And the entire oblique nature of what exactly this witch is, what she wants to do, and why she’s doing any of it is surely just her way of keeping us mortals off balance.
Truly a witch’s brew of colorfully lit scenes and giallo-inspired mayhem strung together with a story impenetrable to all but the Mother of Darkness herself! Argento’s cinematic cauldron of hocus pocus hokum is so powerful that it even notoriously caused assistant director Lamberto Bava to avoid cats after having to wrangle them during filming!
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