Inferno [DVD]  [US Import]
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uncut version of dario argentos classic
Dario Argento's sequel to Suspiria, his first and to date only American hit, is an even more incoherent nightmare fantasy. Laden with symbolic imagery and fantastic explosions of death shot in candy-colored hues, it's a bloody feast for the eyes. Mark (Leigh McCloskey), an American music student in Rome, rushes home to New York after a frantic phone call from his sister only to find an empty apartment and obscure clues about a supernatural presence in her spooky building. It all has something to do with the mysterious Mater Tenebrarum, one of the "Three Mothers" of Argento's murky mythology, and the fun house of an apartment house she inhabits, complete with a fully furnished underwater ballroom, miles of secret tunnels flooded in red and blue light, and hidden passageways under the floorboards. Meanwhile, there's a killer running around stabbing beautiful women for who knows what reason, a crippled bookseller attacked by rats, and a homicidal hot-dog vendor in Central Park. Why? It's best not to ponder such mysteries--Argento obviously isn't as concerned with making sense of his meticulously staged murders as he is with lighting them with just the right hue. Dramatically it's inert, a parade of quirky but faceless victims dispatched with elaborate care, but it's beautifully designed and executed, a spectacle of elaborate set pieces and magnificent decor orchestrated with a complete disdain for narrative logic. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.See all Product description
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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.
The 4 potential covers are a welcome addition but the original 1980 poster cover will stick forever with me and will adorn my copy. The 6 postcards are crisp and beautiful. Alan Jones' booklet is well researched and an excellent read.
The movie looks and sounds like a million dollars.
I highly recommend it.
I'll also add that the sound on this release is noticeably better than the Blue Underground, and I don't even have a sound system hooked up, just my regular TV speakers and I could still tell the difference.
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