Retro Picture Show hit it out of the park yet again on Friday, January 12 with its latest special event, a unique 35mm double feature screening of Suspiria and Inferno, two of legendary Italian horror master Dario Argento’s most notable works.
The Long Island, NY-based movie revival company is coming off a string of successful functions, including a Silent Night Deadly Night/Terror Train holiday combo in December, a pairing of Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond and Michael Winner’s The Sentinel in November, and an ultra-rare Producer’s Cut showing of Halloween 6 back in September.
But on this night, it was all about giallo, the Italian horror subgenre that has become synonymous with the influential septuagenarian filmmaker. And for fans of the director, the movies selected by Michael Ciani of Retro Picture Show proved to be the perfect picks to satiate their Argento cravings.
Suspiria, first released in 1977, is widely considered to be the crown jewel in Argento’s repertoire. The bombastic film tells the sinister tale of an American ballet student studying her craft at a prestigious dance school in Germany when strange happenings and disappearances start to occur. Besides the creepy and engrossing nature of the plot, its use of rich, vibrant colors as well as the eerie score, brilliantly composed by progressive rock act Goblin, results in Suspiria being a true masterpiece in the fright flick landscape and undoubtedly the main event of the evening. It’s hardly a surprise that there’s a big-budget remake of the revered film due out later this year starring major Hollywood names Dakota Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Tilda Swinton.
1980’s Inferno, a loose sequel to Suspiria (the third installment in the Three Mothers trilogy, The Mother of Tears, wasn’t released until almost 30 years later), isn’t viewed nearly as fondly, but it certainly has its merits. The story is centered around a man’s investigation of his missing sister in New York City. While the narrative starts out interestingly enough, the picture tends to lose its focus around halfway through. And unfortunately, it has neither the memorable score, nor the beautiful cinematography of its predecessor. But Argento’s prevalent sense of dread in several scenes, including one set in a water-filled ballroom and another in a vermin-infested Central Park pond, more than make up for it.
In keeping with the entire nostalgic experience of these throwback screenings at Cinema Arts Centre, audience members are treated to blast-from-the-past previews beforehand to rev their engines. And Retro Picture Show again did not disappoint. Exorcist II: The Heretic, Damien: Omen II, Phantasm, and The Shining all served as satisfying appetizers that whet the appetites of those in attendance.
While only in existence for two years, the Retro Picture Show affairs have been gaining in popularity with each event held. Its partnership with the state-of-the-art Cinema Arts Centre, Long Island’s premier independent and international film venue, has proven to be an ideal coupling, and the two entities complement each other superbly.