Geeky Cinephile Musings…
I don't pontificate, I blather.

A midnight screening of Dario Argento’s “Inferno”?? I’m SO THERE!!!

Los Angeles october 2009  (3)

It’s almost Halloween…the air is crisp and chilly…well, “chilly” for Los Angeles, so about 70 degrees…and here I am, standing in a LOOOOOOONG line of people of varied demographics, waiting to see a gorgeous, fresh, 35 mm print of Dario Argento’s Inferno.  Ahhhh, Bliss, bliss, and more bliss!!!!

  • Date: October 17th
  • Time: 11:59pm
  • Location: The New Beverly Cinema
  • Special Guests: Tim Lucas (film historian), Irene Miracle (actress), and Keith Emerson (C’mon–do I really need to tell you who this is?)

Now, as much as I LOOOOOOOVE this movie, this post is not about the film or how much I enjoy watching a group of rats eat a kitty-killing, handicapped, antiques dealer.  (Sound interesting? Watch the movie.)  No groans of disapproval from the peanut gallery!! This is purely about the event itself, so caveat lector–you ARE reading a blog called “geeky cinephiles,” and this is what us video store clerks/rats talk about over endless cups of red wine and cigarettes.  It ain’t always about the films.  Sometimes it’s about the magic of movie-making! 

First, Tim Lucas took the mike.  For those of you who don’t know Tim Lucas, he is the alpha and omega of horror film history, particularly in regards to Mario Bava, about whom he penned an 800 page biography.  Yes, 800 pages…(my buddy, Bill, has informed me that this book weighs about ten pounds.) 

inferno screening 2009 He also pioneered the viewing and critiquing of home videos as opposed to theatrical presentations, and has started his own website, Video Watchdog, a “viewer’s guide to home video releases.” During this fireside chat (ah hell, there was no fire…but it would’ve been pretty kick ass if there had been) he hit on several points regarding Lamberto Bava and his role as assistant director…or judging by what Mr. Lucas said, director pro tempore, as Argento came down with hepatitis shortly after filming began, and mostly “directed” the film via handwritten notes from the hospital bed.  (Don’t worry, Dario–I ain’t hatin’.)  Highlights included learning that the moon that shows up throughout the film was a glass painting done by Bava himself, and how, though much of the film takes place in New York City, very few of the scenes were actually shot there.  The facade of the building where Rose (Irene Miracle) lives is actually a soundstage, and a lot of the buildings on either side of her front entrance were egg carton creations…that look better than some of the buildings I see ’round here.

Irene Miracle, Goddess of the underwater corpse scene, was up next. 

irene miracle inferno

Here I must stop and mention that I had been so excited to hear from her (after all, it is my DREAM to act in a Dario Argento film),  because I wanted to hear all the juicy details of what it was like to work with Dario, what his directions to her were, how he smelled in the mornings—you know, the usual.  However, Irene failed me here.  She seemed like a very sweet lady, but her entire speech centered on all the negative aspects of her experiences with the film.  Actually, I would even go so far as to say that she acted like she didn’t particularly care about the film very much, when it boils down to it.  Oh wait, no–she did mention that she’s “made some great friends due to her connection with it.” 

Oooooh…Be still…my beating…heart.

She began her talk by saying that she took the role because she “needed the money.”  Righteous.  She mentioned a few interesting (and admittedly sympathetic) things–first, that she never auditioned for the film–Dario simply came in the room, examined her face, and then left.  As an actress, I can assure you that this would be mildly disconcerting for the strongest of us.  A few days later, she found out via her agent that she had the role.  Joy! Second, she never worked with Dario, as he was in the hospital during most of the filming.  Third, she complained that she was told she had a lead role, and then was surprised and a bit dismayed that she was “killed off so fast.”  I beg to differ here–I feel, having seen this film, oh I dunno, ten times or so, that she is most definitely a lead.  But apparently, Dario had had plans for her to have a larger role, (and indeed Tim Lucas mentioned that there were missing scenes that would suggest this) but she became ill during filming and began losing her hair.  Dario supposedly freaked out a bit and thought he should axe her off more quickly, for aesthetic reasons…! 

“I think he thought I was dying of some dreadful disease. Maybe that is why quite a few scenes ended up on the cutting-room floor.”

(I’m sorry, but I must have a giggle here…that is SOOOO Italian!!)

In that same vein, she half-jokingly stated that Dario didn’t care very much at all about her character, her acting choices, or her motive, but rather seemed more concerned with her costumes and jewelry.  (Obviously, she’d never seen a giallo…) She ended by mentioning that people think she’s died because no one seems to have ever heard from her again, but she insisted that we all check the internet movie database and see that she hasn’t been twiddling her thumbs.  Yup, Irene! Right on that!  And yes, I am paraphrasing. A bit. 

Are you feelin’ me, gentle readers?? I understand that she didn’t have the best experience, and I certainly sympathize, but COME ON!! She’s been forever immortalized in a cult classic!! She’s in a room filled with slathering Argento fans!! Own it, sistah!

Last to come up was Keith Emerson, who had drawn quite a crowd–many bespectacled males were carrying ELP albums, hoping for an autograph.  Emerson was quite entertaining–he was a total archetype of an aging British rockstar, complete with shaggy hair, Lennon specs, and stories that always begin with, “Well, I was out in the Bahamas on my 50 foot yacht, when…”  He kept us all laughing for about ten minutes, and out of that I remember two things:

1) The night of Inferno’s premiere overseas (I’m sorry, but I cannot remember where!!), Dario was incredibly nervous, so Emerson offered him two small bottles of cognac, which Dario quickly gulped down…and then promptly threw up.

2) While composing the score for Inferno, Emerson and his buddy were distracted for hours by repeatedly watching Irene Miracle’s emergence from her hellish underwater experience because, “Well, it was like a wet tee shirt contest!!”

Now THAT is rock and roll.

Overall, I had an absolutely FANTASTIC evening.  I also took some pictures of the misty, early morning streets that confronted us when we exited, and I must say…not a bad attempt at atmosphere, Los Angeles!!

Los Angeles october 2009  (2)

For those of you who have the privilege to live near the New Beverly Cinema, I suggest you get on their email list, pronto.  They constantly have supercalifragilisticexpealidocious showings (ranging from horror and blaxploitation to second chance, cheapo viewings of recent releases like Inglorious Basterds! Joy!), and at only $7 a head (cash only!), it’s a real steal.  Oh, and because it’s LA, they even have “Organic” Coffee at the concession stand, complete with quote marks, for some reason.  It features RIDICULOUSLY reasonable prices, btw—none of this $8-for-a-small-soda-bullshit we’ve grown so accustomed to.

I’d like to thank my good friend, Bill Ackerman, the walking, talking, veritable encyclopedia of films, film distribution, directors, directors’ biographies, special editions, laser disc versions, and little known facts about the making of the films.  He is, after all the reason I found out about this fantastic event.  So thank you, Bill! I love you!

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