Dario Argentoís second film in his Three Mothers trilogy, Inferno, is presented by Arrow Films in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on the first dual-layer Blu-ray disc of this two-disc set. The picture is presented in 1080p/24hz.
While open to improvement itís surely the best looking Iíve seen the film and actually may still look too good. I havenít seen the film since seeing it on VHS, which had shoddy picture quality and it almost seems wrong to watch it in this newly restored, high-def presentation.
Colours are much stronger, bright, and vibrant, specifically the reds and blues Argento likes to bathe some sequences in. I must say I donít recall this film ever looking this bright and it was incredibly shocking. Object detail is limited and the image can look soft, but it seems to be something I can attribute to the source materials more than the transfer itself, though grain is light and it looks like DNR has been used, but it actually didn't bother me all that much in the end; it wasn't that distracting and things didn't look waxy. I think blacks have been boosted a bit, though, and some details can get lost in darker sequences. The source materials are in beautiful shape on the other hand, presenting only a few minor marks that I just happened to notice.
In the end it actually feels kind of wrong to watch the film like this. Iím used to films of this ilk being on VHS, having not revisited many of them on DVD, and seeing Inferno looking so stunning is an absolute surprise, but in the end a welcome one. Argentoís gothic imagery in the film comes out absolutely stunning, and seeing it more clearly on Blu-ray makes one notice and appreciate it that much more.
(NOTE: Though a UK release this Blu-ray is region free and should play on all Blu-ray players worldwide. I had no issue playing it in my PS3.) 7/10
All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.
Arrow Films has put together a rather nice selection of supplements spread over a Blu-ray disc and a DVD.
The Blu-ray disc presents four features, not counting an introduction by Daria Nicolodi before the film, all looking to have been made exclusively for this release. The first feature is Darioís Inferno, which is a roughly 16-minute interview with director Dario Argento. He talks a bit about the trilogy Inferno belongs in (which includes Suspiria and the recent film Mother of Tears) but spends most of the interview recalling the shoot and issues with Fox afterwards, where the president didnít like it and it ended up putting it out straight-to-video in the U.S. He the proceeds to on covering some of the sequences, such as the underwater opening, and even explains some of the more bizarre moments in the film, like the woman with the cat in the music class. Itís a decent interview, sort of light, and in the end thereís probably only 12-minutes worth of interview footage, but I was pleased to hear the director talk about his film.
The next feature, Acting in Hot Water: An Interview with Daria Nolodi, runs 19-minutes, and features the actress/writer talking about her work with Argento, from Deep Red to Suspira to Inferno and eventually Mother of Tears. She spends most of it talking about Inferno, and her overall involvement in that film and others. She also talks about wanting to complete the trilogy, and mentions that Mother of Tears, the third film, is not the ending that was original conceived. Iím not completely sure what happened between them (for those unaware, Argento and Nicolodi were involved, Nicolodi being the mother of Asia Argento, and the two eventually split) but I have to say she sounds somewhat bitter in the interview, more about where the trilogy went than anything else. But, despite this hint, itís still a good interview filled with great tidbits about the Three Mothers trilogy and Argentoís films overall.
The Other Mother: Making The Black Cat is a 16-minute interview with director Luigi Cozzi, who directed an unofficial part of the Three Mothers trilogy, The Black Cat, which he worked on with Nicolodi. In it it becomes more obvious that Daria was obsessed with completing the trilogy in some form, though Cozzi seems to undersell it, saying itís more a tribute to Argento. He ends up spending a good chunk of the interview also talking about the issues with the distributor, which led to losing the original negative (considering the clips shown, it looks as though only parts of it exist on VHS.) I found this one the most intriguing as I was completely unfamiliar with the film.
The final Blu-ray supplements is the Inferno Q&A, which is 30-minutes of footage of a Q&A session taken from a screening of Inferno, featuring host Tim Lucas, and guests actress Irene Miracle and composer Keith Emerson. Lucas first offers some interesting trivia info about the film, specifically Mario Bavaís involvement in the filmís effects (also covered by Nicolodi in her interview segment elsewhere on this disc.) Miracle talks about the shoot, including the underwater sequences, and points out she shot a lot of scenes that didnít make it, making it obvious that Argento was pretty much making up the movie in the editing room (he also apparently shrunk her role down after he feared she was gravely ill.) Emerson, when not reminding Miracle about her wet shirt in the film, talks about the score, the influences, and the rock beat. He even recalls the Rome premiere. Yet again filled with some more interesting information but itís also a fun piece.
This closes off the first disc, but I must point out a slightly annoying factor about the features on this disc. Other than the Q&A session, all of the features have special animated opening credits, which are cute, but in the end rather obnoxious, as they take up a good amount of time. After the first one I ended up fast forwarding through them. Thereís also an awful lot of clips thrown into these features.
Moving on, the second disc is a DVD and is devoted to special features. Both the Blu-ray and the DVD are region free, but the DVDís content is in PAL, which means some North American players will not be able to play back the content (my PS3 couldnít do it.)
The first feature on here is a just shy of one-hour documentary on Dario Argento called Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror. The piece features interviews with a number of participants, including John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Michael Brandon, Nicolodi, Keith Emerson, Tom Savini, Piper Laurie, Asia Argento, the man himself, Dario Argento, and, but of course, Alice Cooper, among others. It looks over his filmography (amazing concentrating very little time on Inferno) and looks at the violence that appears in his films. Its best section may have to do with the effects, which features discussion with effects man Tom Savini, who has an amusing story about Harvey Keitel and his ďfake head.Ē It also looks at Argentoís style and his unconcern for narrative and performances. Itís an okay documentary in the end, a little slight and not too revealing, but thereís still some worthwhile content about his work and style.
Next is a 9 minute interview with Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava about Inferno. It looks to be carried over from the Anchor Bay DVD and is a little repetitive since most of the material in here has been covered in the other features, but it does get into more detail about how Mario Bava came to join the production and the effects he worked on. Amusingly, though, Lamberto Bava recalls his one vivid memory from the film: cats, and lots of them.
But the coolest feature would have to be the Argento Trailer Gallery, 18 theatrical trailers covering Argentoís films, running 40-minutes. The trailers include: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Cat Ďo Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Deep Red, Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebrae, Phenomena, Opera, Two Evil Eyes, Tauma, The Stendahl Syndrome, Phantom of the Opera, Sleepless, The Card Player, Mother of Tears, and then George A. Romeroís Dawn of the Dead, which Argento had worked on with Romero. The disc then concludes with the Spanish and International trailers for Inferno.
Arrow Films also releases the film in some clever packaging, which allows you to pick one of four possible covers. They also include a booklet with an essay by Alan Jones, six post cards, and a two-sided fold out poster.
Despite my minor issues with the presentation of the supplements theyíre all fairly good, and I rather love the presentation of the package. Overall itís a clever and fun set. 7/10