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Inferno (1980)

 -  Horror  -  2 April 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 9,416 users  
Reviews: 111 user | 134 critic

An American college student in Rome and his sister in New York investigate a series of killings in both locations where their resident addresses are the domain of two covens of witches.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eleonora Giorgi ...
Daria Nicolodi ...
Elise Stallone Van Adler
Sacha Pitoëff ...
Kazanian (as Sacha Pitoeff)
Carol, the caretaker
Veronica Lazar ...
Gabriele Lavia ...
Feodor Chaliapin Jr. ...
Professor Arnold / Dr. Varelli (as Feodor Chaliapin)
Leopoldo Mastelloni ...
John, the Butler
Ania Pieroni ...
James Fleetwood ...
Rosario Rigutini ...
Ryan Hilliard ...
Paolo Paoloni ...
Music Teacher


Young poetess Rose Elliot buys a book from a local antique dealer, a diary in Latin of an architect, E. Varelli. She learns of the Three Mothers, and believes her apartment building is one of their houses. She pleads her brother Mark, who is studying musicology in Rome, to come, because she is afraid. Mark's friend Sara reads her letter, which he left behind in class, and discovers the school is run by the Mater Lacrimarum, and is killed for this knowledge. The house of Mater Suspiriorum has already been destroyed, and by the time Mark arrives in New York City, he is investigating his sister's murder. Written by Scott Hutchins <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

evil | murder | new york city | house | book | See more »


Before tenebrae, beyond suspiria there is... See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

2 April 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Inferno  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (heavily cut)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Part of the reason Argento cast Irene Miracle as Rose Elliot was she had synchronize swimming skills, which came in quite handy for the shooting of the underwater ballroom scene. See more »


During the cat attack, a human hand can be seen throwing some cats at the actress. See more »


[Reading from "The Three Mothers," by E. Varelli]
Rose Elliot: I do not know what price I shall have to pay for breaking what we alchemists call Silentium, the life experiences of our colleagues should warn us not to upset laymen by imposing our knowledge upon them.
See more »


Referenced in The Beyond (1981) See more »


Mater Tenebrarum
Composed by Keith Emerson'
Keyboards by Keith Emerson'
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A genuine guideline for horror filmmaking...
2 March 2003 | by See all my reviews

As I understand by the definition H. P. Lovecraft gives of horror as opposed to other genres that have been mistaken throughout time with it, this is the best movie within the definition, and in my opinion, Dario Argento's undisputable masterpiece. In spain as well as in other spanish speaking countries, this is the movie that is referenced most often from Dario Argento as it seems. It was quite strange for me that most people that comment on Argento's work find Suspiria to be such masterwork as the story is much more plain, and certain elements are thrown in the wrong points of the movie, like the first two murders and the abrupt and seemingly total improvisation of an ending of this movie ( and I am not saying in anyway that Suspiria is bad, is just that it's mistakes are much more evident to me and overall is a weaker film).

It's been said that Mario Bava contributed to the creation of certain sets and special effects for this movie. If so, maybe that's why this movie looks so much like some of his works like " Sei Donne Per L' Assasino", specially when it comes to the murder sequences, and the overall lighting and pace of the film. One thing that makes me wonder what is wrong is that a lot of people say that this film is confusing. Everything is given explanation since the beginning ( the nature of the tree mothers, the relationship between Mark and Rose, and besically what each character is and what's their involvement in the plot) and I don't understand why It doesn't make sense: Mother Tenebrarum, the cruellest of the said " Three sisters" lives in New York,and there are three keys to find the places where they dwell. Rose suspects that one of them lives downstairs and tries to warn his brother of that, considering that one of the sisters lives in Rome as well ( the first one lives in Freiburg, Germany, which would be the only evident link in my opinion to " Suspiria"). From there, the murders start to happen ( all of them, specially the one in the eclipse seen, being the most original and stylish set pieces with this motiff in my humble opinion), as the sisters want to keep their existence very low profile due to their real nature. What is so complicated to that? Isn't it that the way is suppossed to be undesrtood for the most part or did I miss something?

It's just out of my understainding how the ending of this movie would be worst than the one from Suspiria, as it is the most descriptive metaphor I've seen of Death. There is a pretty comparable descrition given in a text by Jose Emilio Pacheco ( " Prosa de la Calavera"), specially regarding the mirrors. The imagery is very universal and " a doc" with human fear: Mice, Cats, Sewers, Cellars, The Shoots of the Moon, Windows being opened by the Wind, ETC...

The music, even though Goblin are the specialists, is far superior than in " Suspiria". There is very nice use of classical music by Verdi, for example ( the arrangement they did of one of the pieces in the Cab scene is great) and the piano melody that adapts to each frame for it's enhancement, and the use of choir a la Carmina Burana during some of the key moments, specially the ending. All of this is reminds me of my childhood fears. Specially because as a Latin American, they used to scare me with " La Bruja" ( The Witch) whenever I would misbehave. So this movie really makes me p*** in my pants every once in a while. Keith Emerson delivers one of his rare contributions to film, and I think Argento and him should get together again, now that he is shooting " Il Cartaio". Emerson fits much better Argento's meticulous style of filmmaking than Goblin. Goblin is pretty good at capturing mood, but after a while they become pretty repetitive.

Overall, this is the real thing when it comes to horror for me. No other movie would equal the impact It had on me, not even the Exorcist (which is said to be the mother of them all). Bido and Argento need to come back.

This is It!

25 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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hot dog vendor? The_Great_Silence
the best line in the entire movie AudreyHamm
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