Saturday, March 13, 2010

600th Post Special!: Dante's Inferno (2007)

Has it really been 600 posts worth of this crap?  Well, apparently it has.  To celebrate, I decided to review an obscure little film that sneaked onto DVD a couple of years ago.  First off, let me state that this has nothing to do with the new video game.  Instead, it is a post-modern adaptation of the age-old story of a man's journey into Hell and back again.  To make things even more confusing though, it is actually an adaptation of a book that is an adaptation of the story.  Oh yeah, it's also done with puppets too.  Let's dig down to...
The film begins with Dante Alighieri (Dermot Mulroney) -now a drunken loser in Los Angeles- waking up in an alley and not remembering where he is.  Lo and behold, the poet Virgil (James Cromwell) shows up and offers to show him around Hell.  The entryway: the subway.  Why not?  The tour involves a trip through all 9 Circles of Hell.  Let's check them out, shall we?
* The first circle is for people who committed sins of Lust.  Famous people there include JFK and 'Fatty' Arbuckle.  They have sex for eternity, but can never finish.  Eh, I've seen worse.
* The second is for people who committed sins of Gluttony.  Oddly, no famous sinners are shown.  You guys are above celebrity fat jokes, huh?  By the way, unofficial plug for Quiznos here!
* One section is dedicated to people who committed the sin of thinking that they are above God.  Such people include Jim Jones and the Ayatollah.  This area is set-up as a gated community where the people are being burned in a jacuzzi. 
* They stop by a forest set aside for people that committed suicide, including Marilyn Monroe.  Their fate: to be permanently alive as trees.
* As they go to cross a river, they see a series of sinners being punished by the hand of God.  This bit involves real pliers coming from the sky and pull the 'heads' off of puppets attached to a hand.
* They stop by a section made up for Washington lobbyists.  They sing and dance...for no reason.  Why not?
* No celebrity or world figure is safe, from Nicholas III to Dean Martin.  If you know a guy, they imply that he is being punished in Hell.  In fact, they lump Ronald Reagan and Hitler into the same category: men who consulted with fortune tellers.  As Dante himself says, 'They got him for that?!?'
* Random cameo by Fox News.  In fairness, I feel like I'm in Hell whenever I watch them!
 * Near the end, they get to the bottom area that is set aside for some of the worst of the worst.  They are frozen in Hell.  The denizens include some real bad people, including Lizzy Borden and Dick Cheney.  I know what you're thinking, but they address it.  You see, he was so bad that his soul was already put in Hell and a demon inhabits his body now.  Is that a surprise?
* The final level involves a group of terrible people- including Heinrich Himmler and Brutus- who are constantly eaten and crapped out by Satan as fondue.  This gives us a real-life person (the lead puppeteer) as Satan.  It's odd.
* In the end, Dante and Virgil escape via a hole adjacent to Satan's frozen ass and he returns to life, now with a purpose.
Yeah, this movie is extremely damn weird!  The whole thing is done with puppets and features a ton of comedians as voices.  Those people include UCB's Matt Walsh and Matt Besser, Arrested Development's Tony Hale and Aqua Teen Hunger Force's Dana Snyder.  This movie is full of quirky humor, fun references and bizarre visuals.  They constantly break the Fourth Wall in regards to the stands holding the puppets and the like.  This film is all about making you freak out and go 'what the hell?!?'  If you don't believe me, watch the scene where Virgil and Dante ride on the backs of centaur cops!  If you are a serious person, this film will probably not do anything for you.  For all those freaky people out there like me, you'll love it!  This film deserves a lot more attention and that starts here!
Next up, an '80s remake of a '50s cult classic.  Naturally, they chose Tobe Hooper to direct it.  Stay tuned...


  1. Wow, that sounds...bizarre. Might have to check it out. Strangely enough, I'm working on a post for the 1911 Italian version of the story: L'Inferno. There's no puppets in that one, but some pretty wicked imagery.


  2. Oh, is that the one with the Tangerine Dream re-doing the soundtrack? I keep meaning to get that one. It's on my list with 'Haxan' and the Industrial Mix of 'Nosferatu' to see.