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11. Inferno (1980)

Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi

For most films, the adjective “incoherent” would be an insult, but not for a Dario Argento movie. Incoherent is a fitting way to describe Argento’s phantasmagoric 1977 magnum opus Suspiria, a dreamlike presentation that burrows into the viewer’s mind with its dazzling Technicolor palette, operatic death scenes, and haunting musical score—coherence is, pleasantly, an afterthought.

The concept behind the Germany-set Suspiria involves the first of the Three Mothers, an ancient trio of witches that have splintered off into different parts of the world. Inferno concerns the second “mother,” Mater Tenebrarum (Mother of Darkness), a pissed-off entity that resides inside a New York City apartment building. Like Suspiria, Inferno makes very little sense, yet, fortunately, it’s also salvaged by Argento’s knack for insanely ambitious set-pieces, such as a cripple’s body getting eaten alive by rats under a hot dog vendor’s demonic control (no joke).

Adding to Inferno’s pedigree is the fact that Italy’s original master of horror, Mario Bava, directs the film’s best sequence, an underwater search for a key that’s exceptionally scary before the floating corpse even makes a cameo.

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