Dario Argento’s Inferno. The weird semi-sequel to Suspiria that opted for a more pastel, painterly palette over the overt, neon-drenched look. It’s certainly an interesting movie to watch through—though a bit slow in some places. Personally, and this may be considered blaspheme to some, but I actually kind of enjoy this movie over Suspiria for being more atmospheric with its stronger emphasis on the mystery of witchcraft (it’s not perfect by any means, but I have a soft spot for it).
But here’s the schpiel about it: None of the home releases in the past some years have ever managed to really figure out what is the proper color scheme. DVD Exotica sort of best lays it all out where each release seems to have its own altered color grade.
(Anchor Bay | Blue Underground | Camera Obscura)
There was an online article delving a bit into these color differences and how apparently some people say that the movie theatrically looked more saturated and bluer and whatnot than the DP supervised Camera Obscura release. Here’s a quote from it that I find notably relevant.
Danish Argento expert Thomas Rostock said:
Having plowed through several VHS, Laserdisc and film-print incarnations of this the director’s most accomplished visual achievement (seeing this on the big screen by way of the excellent UK print in circulation around 1995 was truly an astonishing experience for me. Totally blew me away in a way SUSPIRIA couldn’t even begin to match), I must say that look of the Anchor Bay DVD of 2000 actually fares much closer to Romano Albani’s intended look than the new MGM/FOX. Romano Albani along with Argento worked hard to achieve a fuller, more lush look than SUSPIRIA using in particular the two new lighting color gels named Rose and Deep Blue introduced into the market in 1979.
In short, Rose and Deep Blue are the governing colors of INFERNO. However, the MGM/FOX transfer suppresses exactly these two colors to the point oblivion (Rose) and to a dull, faded hue (Deep Blue) […] If one is aware of literally the hours it can take to light with different color-gels on a film-set, it is especially disheartening to witness MGM/FOX’s negligent attitude towards the intended color-specific look of INFERNO. But perhaps even worse is the fact that this is the only transfer making its rounds to all corners of the world commercially through MGM’s cost-efficent licensing and will stand as a misrepresentation of the real beautiful and haunting color-scheme that is at the very heart and soul of INFERNO. One can voice many a fault about William Lustig’s AB/BU releases, but on the visual, color-correctional side of things, he has yet to make mistake.
Since the VHS day apparently, companies kept taking liberties with the movie’s color grading for some reason, and the fact that it’s 2021 and this is all still so up in the air is just absolutely ridiculous! I have my own suspicions on how it’d likely look (with it being akin to this German trailer scan: https://youtu.be/TO4PX8VZ09I ), but that’s just my personal guesswork which is no better than anyone else’s.
As such, I’ve been digging for a while to see if I can get my hands on an actual print of the movie to scan. Thankfully that day has come because I have managed to negotiate for a 35mm Italian print!
Now, here’s the deal. I have been told the print is slightly faded but still has decent color, and given past results I have seen with my go-to scanner, I am sure there will be no problems in fixing it later down the line. Furtherly, given the movie came out smack-dab in the middle of that accursed transition period between the 70s and 80s, finding a print that isn’t red is kind of a miracle.
On a further note of bonuses, I have been told that this print is also in stereo which is nice given the Italian track has only been released in mono previously. I also have strong suspicions that the Italian theatrical cut is actually different from the Director’s cut we all know today (got it on good word from someone who’s seen a print back in the day), so I’d love to confirm this concretely if this is the case.
Anyways, in terms of pricing, I already have enough money pledged to me to cover for some of the baseline fees involving the print ($370~), and at this point, I only need further funding to actually pay for the 4K scan itself ($530~) and possibly for a hard drive later down the line ($150~).
I’m only taking pledges at the moment, but once I can get in at least an extra $100 pledged, I’ll see if I can get the process started and get previews made for donors in that reel-by-reel delivery like I usually do.
So, are there any Italo-horror / Argento fans here willing to help out? I’m also curious to hear what some of y’all’s opinions are of this movie in general since I’m wondering if I’m the only one who really dug this movie—even with all of its flaws.