A blaze of gory

1980 * 18 * 106 mins * £15.99 * 13 September 2010
Also available on Blu-ray (£22.99)
Distributor: Arrow Video
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Irene Miracle, Leigh McCloskey, Eleonara Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi, Alida Valli

This isn’t a great movie for cat lovers. In one scene, a woman’s set upon by a pack of ferocious felines. As they fly through the air, it’s impossible not to picture the stage-hands just off-screen, tossing them across the sound stage. We rather hope they got a few scratches…

It’s the daftest moment in a film whose only logic is that of the nightmare, the director’s stated aim to “evoke the bloody spirits of our collective conscience”. This second in Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers” series (following his magnum opus Suspiria) sees various characters investigating the second of these ageless witches: the Mother Of Darkness, said to control New York. But this is just a peg on which to hang setpieces, including a magnificent sequence where heroine Rose (Irene Miracle) dives into a flooded ballroom, and a rat attack in Central Park.

Bearing all the hallmarks of Argento’s finest work – lurid red and blue lighting, buildings with labyrinthine geography, oddball secondary characters – it’s blessed with audacious intercutting (a gloved killer decapitating a string of paper dolls/a lizard gulping down a moth/a woman hanging from a noose) and wonderful prowling tracking shots. Just don’t expect it to make a lick of sense.


The usual well-presented package we’ve come to expect from Arrow Video, including reversible sleeve, double-sided poster and collectible booklet. Disc one features three new interviews. Argento (16 mins) doesn’t engage that much, but his co-writer/muse Daria Nicolodi (18 mins) is more forthcoming. A third interview quizzes director Luigi Cozzi on the tenuous Three Mothers connections of his 1989 film The Black Cat. Disc two features material dating back to 2000. “Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror” (57 mins) is an excellent career overview with interviews with Argento and numerous collaborators, Mark Kermode narration and interviews with Argento biographer Alan Jones. Nine minutes of Inferno-specific interview snippets with Argento and assistant director Lamberto Bava and 18 trailers for Argento movies complete the spread.

Ian Berriman