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Considered by many to be a sequel to director Dario Argento’s horror masterwork SUSPIRIA, INFERNO ($30) tells the story of Rose Elliot (Irene Miracle), a young woman who descends into a world of unimaginable horror after discovering a rare manuscript in antique shop entitled "The Three Mothers." Written by the architect that built homes for the threesome, the book reveals the secret of The Three Mothers- who are an incarnation of pure evil. Rose becomes unsure if "Book Of The Three Mothers" is a work of fiction, when she recognizes too many similarities between the apartment building in which she lives and one of the homes described in the book.

Unfortunately, curiosity gets the better of Rose and when she begins snooping around in the apartment building’s basement she finds her worst fears about the house confirmed. INFERNO also stars Leigh McCloskey as Rose’s brother Mark, who comes to New York at his sister’s behest, only to find her missing. As Mark tries to figure out what happened to his sister, he unwittingly gets closer and closer to the evil dwelling somewhere in the apartment house. INFERNO is another of Dario Argento’s highly stylized horror offerings. The movie is both beautiful and repulsive to look at, often at the same time. There is plenty of blood and gore, but the movie is lit and shot in such a way that these sequences are imbued with a dreamy/nightmarish quality that is completely unlike a typical horror outing. The cast of INFERNO also includes Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi, Sascha Pitoëff, Alida Valli, Veronica Lazar, Gabriele Lavia and Feodor Chaliapin.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done a fantastic job with their DVD edition of INFERNO. Presenting the uncut and uncensored version of the film for the first time in the US, Anchor Bay is offering Argento fans a definitive release. INFERNO is properly framed at 1.85:1 and the presentation is enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer was made from the vault negative, and the image on the DVD is stunning. Everything is wonderfully crisp and is reproduced with amazing clarity and detail. There is some apparent film grain in the image, but it is part of the original photography and is never a distraction. Color reproduction on this DVD is absolutely first rate. A number of scenes in INFERNO utilize intense red and blue lighting that creates an otherworldly atmosphere for the film. Because of the lighting, the image takes on a highly saturated look that would have been impossible for the older analog video formats to reproduce accurately. Fortunately, DVD doesn’t have any such inherent limitations, so the hot reds and cold blues within the image are perfectly recreated without a trace of noise or bleeding. There are other sequences within the movie that have a far less saturated look, but they too are reproduced with maximum color fidelity. Blacks are a solid, inky black, plus there is a respectable level of shadow detail in the image. Digital compression artifacts never cause any detriment to the visual quality of the presentation.

For this release, INFERNO has been given a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel remix by Chase Productions. The new mix opens up the film’s sound, but there are sonic limitations; one has to remember that this is an Italian production from 1980. Keith Emerson’s musical score definitely gets the lion’s share of the benefits from the work performed by Chase Productions. The music has good fidelity and is spread across the forward soundstage, as well as being given some fill by the rear channels. The surrounds also supply ambient sound to the mix. Dialogue is usually clean and pretty well focused, although it does have that unmistakable dubbed quality. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD.

The interactive menus offer a bit of full motion video and music. Through the menus, one can access the standard scene selection and set up features as well as a few supplements. The DVD includes a recent interview with director Dario Argento and his then assistant Lamberto Bava, which runs under ten minutes, but is pretty informative. Also included on the disc are a theatrical trailer, a still gallery and talent biographies/filmographies.

Seeing Anchor Bay Entertainment’s superb looking DVD edition of INFERNO has made this reviewer hope that Anchor Bay Entertainment will be able to secure the rights to Argento’s brilliant exercise in horror SUSPIRIA. SUSPIRIA is such an amazing looking movie that it deserves the same level of care that Anchor Bay applied to INFERNO. In the mean time, Argento fans can keep themselves happy by picking up a copy of INFERNO.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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