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The Supernatural World of Inferno (Blu-ray),
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This review is from: Dario Argento's Inferno [Blu-ray][Region Free] (Blu-ray)Not sure about the general audience of this kind of stuff today but I've been watching these films for over twenty years and have gone from sitting through terrible quality bootleg tapes (because uncut versions were not available in England at the time - censorship is nowhere near the problem it was, thankfully) through to Digital Versatile Discs (er, DVD to the general public), sometimes buying several editions of a film, and finally Blu-ray. I couldn't afford laserdiscs but gleefully read about those in mags like Dark Side, Is It Uncut?, etc - the approximate 400 line resolution of laserdiscs is now hopelessly outdated, but fans would eagerly pay anything up to £100 at film fairs for their favourites in presentations that far exceeded the quality of the then consumer champion of VHS.
Inferno is an pretty surreal tale of the uncanny, with a series of morbid events occurring that can make little sense in conventional terms, and even on multiple viewings you still wonder at the strangeness of it all. Not quite as bombastic as Suspiria, this is nevertheless an artistically experimental film with occasionally brutal killings and an otherworldly feel to what the characters are going through. It's not for all, but the movie has gathered a critically positive reaction over the years and is now generally considered to be a bit of a classic. Personally I tend to have a good time experiencing the admittedly slightly crazy middle section of Argento's Three Mothers trilogy.
Now, Inferno is one of those movies that I've seen in several editions and before buying I checked image comparisons between the currently available Blue Underground Blu-ray, and the Arrow equivalent. As the more diplomatic of reviewers put it, it appears to be a matter of taste what you might prefer. I chose the Arrow because its less excessive contrast revealed more in darker areas of the film (and lets face it, if you want to increase or decrease the contrast, colour, brightness or anything else, you have a remote control available to aid you in this respect). Higher contrast can add the illusion of a sharper picture but this is mainly derived from a rapid gradation between darker and lighter areas of the screen, rather than gradual (and therefore apparantly softer). So we get a very good 1080p image on both discs, though sharpness and colours appear to be a little different. I watched the Arrow disc on a 90 inch projected screen (an unforgiving medium one might have thought) and thoroughly enjoyed the presentation. It's now uncut and the detail far outweighs the previous Anchor Bay/BU DVDs, as to be expected. Many complain about 'DNR' in digitally presented films (as if they possess some sort of insider insight into it) but I didn't find anything distracting here (hey, remember the times when we sat down to enjoy the FILM itself, rather than trying to identify smeared pixels and all that?). Audio is provided in the form of a DTS-HD surround track in English, a stereo English track for purists, and a mono Italian track (I haven't sampled the latter yet), and everything is fine here, limitations of the period aside.
We also get the fairly enjoyable and informative Eye For Horror documentary (runs about 1 hour) about Dario and his films, a complete trailer reel of variable quality for ALL of Dario's directed films, including Five Days in Milan, a pretty interesting 30 minute Q&A session with Tim Lucas (providing some great background information), Irene Miracle and Emerson (the composer), a short piece where Luigi Cozzi talks about The Black Cat (a pretty much lost film that paid homage to Argento and the Three Mothers films), interviews with Dario and Daria Nicolodi, and a couple of other titbits (about half the extras are in standard definition, on disc 2 (which is a DVD)) - this is a pretty comprehensive package all round. Also you get four cover artwork options, a postcard set of promotional Inferno artworks, a poster, and a booklet with notes from Alan Jones. Packaging is a standard Blu-ray plastic case (with hinge inside for the second disc) inside a neatly designed cardboard outer case.
So, loads to complain about there, eh? Well, yes, if you read some of the aforementioned comments online. All of this is available for no more than about £15 online (i.e. a lot less than one might have paid for a far inferior laserdisc 15 years ago), it's either the top of the pile or, at worst, second in the pile of best editions for Inferno, and yet out of the woodwork crawls hatemongers that you would have thought had been bought up as terrorists, so vehemently adamant are they that they'll bring down Arrow and anything that they release. I'm completely confused! Nobody else in the UK is committed to cult cinema on Blu-ray like this company, and even if some of their releases come in second place, does that truly deserve the flak attack that arrives with every release? Normal people either buy or they don't buy - a fairly straightforward process. Even if there's not much wrong with one of Arrow's releases then some 'fans' will complain about the artwork! Even if they hadn't presented 4 options for people to CHOOSE from, is this adequate critism and how often do people start up hate threads for other DVD/BD companies due to the cover artworks?!? I feel sad that we the cult-film buying public have come down to that, if indeed those people who are expressing their very deep concerns are to be considered as such.
I've got four or five of their films on Blu-ray so far, and as with Inferno I've been pleased with all of them, though I still consider each release on its own merits (e.g. I certainly picked up the BU edition of Crystal Plumage), but for the one I don't go for? I think I'll leave all of my anger and hate inside for things that really deserve it...
Anyway, make your own minds up, but overall Inferno gets a pretty outstanding release for home cinema with this Blu-ray Disc.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Jun 2011 14:23:14 BDT
Guy Abandon says:
Spot on. It drives me insane the level of opprobrium leveled at Arrow. I myself like the artwork (and the more garish the better as far as I'm concerned) but I can understand why other people wouldn't. What I can't understand is how angry people get when you can choose from three other covers. Showing my age here but I remember when the complaints were that a film was cut to ribbons or just plain banned. Now, as you say, the rage is aimed at a sleeve you don't need to look at and, to me, unnoticable glitches in picture quality. I've only just upgraded to HD but I thought the picture was stunning.
Thought your comment re watching the film rather than the pixels was bang on too. What an incredible film it is too. Might just pip Suspiria as his best.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2011 15:42:28 BDT
Thanks for the comments, Guy. I also remember the days (not that long ago really) when we were complaining about more important film-related matters like a film not being available at all, or only available with footage sliced out (not particularly common nowdays). People's expectations seem to have increased somewhat since those days! Saying that, I'm certainly in favour of perfection myself, but if something falls a small amount short I don't think I'm going to start throwing my toys out of the pram and starting up hate-threads.
It is a great film anyway, as you say, but it's something I had to see a few times (on the aforementioned bootlegs in the 90s) before coming to appreciate it. Suspiria was a tad more immediate in its effect. I think I may try the Phenomena disc out next, though I've never been a huge fan of that film and haven't seen it for 10 years or so.
In reply to an earlier post on 6 Aug 2011 11:52:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Nov 2011 15:41:56 GMT
Nicholas Hill says:
I concur with everything being said here. Quite frankly I've been scratching my head at the occasional sheer vitriol against 'Arrow' that I read in the reviews. I've had, over the years, copies of 'Inferno' on VHS tape, Laserdisc and DVD, and this is far-and-away the best print I've seen. Certainly it's not perfect, what is? A thirty year old Italian horror film? I, too, remember the days when it was difficult, if not impossible to see this type of film at all. I was happy to see them in any condition, and suffered through endless watery bootleg tapes, censored prints, mediocre Laserdiscs etc,. But I was grateful because at least I was seeing them. Frankly, we're being spoiled rotten by the quality here. Unheard of when I first started to want to see these films. I had a copy of 'Suspiria' on tape, censored and cropped to full screen! Can you imagine how horrible that looked? But I was grateful because that was the only version available to me at the time. Most of the 'reviewers' don't appreciate just how lucky they are!
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Aug 2011 17:25:41 BDT
Totally agree, we have been spoiled somewhat by the hi-def age, and the closer these transfers get to perfection the more people seem to want. Was that the EIV 18 cert tape of Suspiria you mention? I had that too, and paid about £13 or £14 for it! Then the Noveaux tape came out correctly letterboxed and uncut, I thought I was in heaven - was I finding things to complain about? No way was I, and I'm trying not to fall onto that slippery slope that so many others are on nowadays either, because it can only do our beloved genre harm as others are deterred from buying effectively excellent and lovingly developed products by the slurring and unappreciative comments of a contemptful group of people.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Aug 2011 10:37:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Aug 2011 10:46:09 BDT
Nicholas Hill says:
I'm not sure about the 'Suspiria' tape: it's long since disappeared into videotape heaven!
My appreciation for 'Arrow' continues with a recent purchase of 'Spirits of the Dead'. The virtues (and vices) of the film are up to the individual to decide, but the disc! Astonishing clarity. Multi-language options. Terence Stamp in English with the option to switch back-and-forth to catch all the Italian dialogue! How pampered are we? It's never looked better than this, and I can't imagine it ever will. Hell, it didn't look this good when it first saw the light of a projection booth! Good grief, at this rate I'm just going to have to buy everything 'Arrow' have released! Who are these wonderful people and how do I send them a thank-you note.
Posted on 10 Dec 2011 05:32:21 GMT
George W. Iscariot says:
Amen. Having said that, where else but the internet do people go if they wish to witter about having a version of a film that makes a VHS look like something Stone Age man might keep in his cave for entertainment? Though as I remember, none of us who watched these films on 3rd generation VHS in the 80s ever complained, we were just happy to see the films at all.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Dec 2011 11:18:11 GMT
I still have a few of those n'th generation tapes lying around - checking them out these days it's hard to believe what kind of stuff we used to sit through just to see a movie - blurred, indistinct images, Japanese or Dutch subtitles, muffled sound, timecoding, prices that usually exceeded the average online cost of a DVD nowadays, etc. Certainly makes you appreciate the discs that the likes of Arrow put out at the moment (looking forward to the Demons Blu-ray next year btw!).
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Nov 2012 20:41:28 GMT
A. Moncrieff says:
It's funny, on one hand everyone's complaining that physical media is dying, and the other hand it seems the hoarder mentality has taken over. Everyone wants "perfect" versions of these films for their collections so they "never have to buy it again". Well guys, you don't "have to" buy anything again anyway!
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