First things first: this is not a review of Tom Hanks’ Inferno. Since I review horror movies, it’s obvious I’m talking about Dario Argento’s Inferno, the sequel to his masterful Suspiria. Inferno isn’t as good as Suspiria, but you’ve got to admire him for trying. As horror movies go, it isn’t bad.

The Three Mothers are a trio of witches who live in buildings in New York City, Rome and Freiburg Germany. So says the book of the same name purchased by poetess Rose Elliot at the creepy antiques bookstore in New York City. Taking her cue from Nancy Drew, Rose investigates. She ends up in a basement, where she drops her keys into a flooded underground room. Watching her dive fully clothed into the brackish waters, I sensed she might not be long for this world.

Rose writes to her brother Mark, a music student in Rome. Mark is so bewitched by the sight of the lovely woman in his music class he leaves her letter behind. His lady friend Sara takes the letter and soon finds a copy of The Three Mothers. Sara sort of wanders into this movie, which happens a lot in Inferno. Her long-term prospects aren’t good, let’s put it that way.

Mark travels to New York City only to find his sister missing. He doesn’t contact the police, instead opting to investigate on his own. Mark is no Sherlock Holmes – think Inspector Clouseau’s dim-witted brother – but he’s the best hero this movie has. He wanders around while people are murdered to dramatic music in increasingly creative ways. Argento’s New York City features a Central Park teeming with man-eating rats and psychotic hot dog vendors. It’s a place where a woman who writes poetry can live in a spacious apartment complex that looks like it would cost five figures a month to rent.

Will Mark’s investigations bear fruit? Since we already know what happened to Rose, there’s no mystery involved. Like Suspiria, Inferno has plot elements but no plot. But who cares? This is a visually stunning movie with great death sequences, so just sit back and enjoy the show.

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