Ever since I first saw Dario Argento's 1980 film Inferno -- and we're not talking decades here, because as I admitted here on the site in 2017 I had somehow tricked myself into thinking I'd seen Inferno but I hadn't, not until 2017 anyway -- I have wanted to do one of my "Thursday's Ways Not To Die" posts for this scene in Inferno. The problem is... this scene doesn't make any sense. Which is half the appeal, and ninety-percent of why I love it. A scene not making any sense is when Argento gets his most interesting, usually! But...
... this scene really doesn't make any sense. And to top that off it's hard to tell what's happening half the time because the scene is dark. But I love it so, and we're talking Rat Scenes in movies this week for our "13 Rats of Halloween" series, so I'm gonna try to describe what you're seeing, beforehand, and then just let the images speak for themselves.
So here's the sort-of gist. Inferno abandons main characters like trash, every few scenes, which is another thing I love about it, but at this point this character seen here standing on crutches in the middle of a Central Park pond is a book dealer, one who has just given our momentary main character the old book that details The Three Mothers mythology (i.e. the mythology behind Argento's films Suspiria, Inferno, and Mother of Tears). After he's done that he has, for some reason, decided to stuff a sack full of cats and to then take this sack of cats to a pond in Central Park to drown them. I said what I said!
I suppose the moon is making everybody crazy, is the idea, but really it's just inexplicable. But the moon does become more important in just a second, because as our nasty cat-drowning friend here does his nasty cat-drowning business, an eclipse happens over New York!
I should add that I also really wanted to do this scene for my (semi-aborted) "City en Scène" series too, where I talk about movie scenes that I think about when I walk around New York, because whenever I walk by this pond in Central Park I think about this scene now, looking for sacks of drowned kitties and swarms of red-eyed flesh-hungry rodents. Oh right. The rats!
The eclipse makes the rats go nuts too, and
of course the man on crutches suddenly falls over...
... and the rats do their business.
Their dirty ratty business.
The other day when I started this "13 Rats of Halloween" series I said that rats don't bug me too much (not like bugs) but even I'll admit that that drain-pipe swarming with them is a real fucking disgusting sight. Anyway because this is an Argento movie the rats aren't even how this man actually dies. Argento's death scenes have as many twists and turns as a roller-coaster collapsing into the ocean. So the rats are eating the cat-killing bookseller, he's screaming his head off as one does while one is being eaten by rats, when lo - a hero appears!
The large man holding the large knife and slicing up hot dogs in his hot dog truck in the middle of the night in the middle of Central Park hears his cries! What could possibly go wrong?
"Thank goodness you're here, Mr. Hot Dog Man!"
It's only in typing all of this delightful gibberish out that I realized that Argento manages to get the whole cartoon food chain of animals involved in this scene -- there are Cats (in a sack), there are Mice (well rats but whatever), and there are Dogs (of the between-two-buns hot dog variety). It's basically one of those Tom & Jerry episodes that had the dog in it...
... just Argento-fied. It's all very goofy and I adore it, which is how you can sum up most of my relation to Argento's work. I can't believe I didn't see this film until three years ago! I know people are mixed on this one but it shot right up among my faves -- I really love the way it just keeps killing off its main characters, baton-handing the narrative off and leaving us unbalanced, and I really really love the visuals, which are as neon-wacky as Suspiria's but darker, grimier -- deeply appropriate for a movie mostly set in New York in the 1980s. Any Inferno fans out there?
Hit the jump for links to all of the previous Ways Not To Die...
Previous Ways Not To Die: Goat Yer Got -- Get the Hook -- Robot First Blood -- Tumble For Yahhhhhh -- By Gyaos and By Golly -- Licked By Flames of Sapphic Desire -- Snitches Get Destiches -- Bad-Assassin -- Lasers For the Little Person -- Mouse Droppings -- Pink Puffy Stuff -- Light Terror-py -- Don't Open the Box! -- I Said Don't Squeeze The Charmin -- Ma Come Runnin -- Birds of Darkness, Consume Me!!! -- Oh Teddy -- Better Off Red -- A Spike in the Dark -- Bag n' Bash -- Big Time Dumbbelled -- By Behemoth Blast -- Fire In Your Belly -- The Hand Gun -- Shark, Weak -- Just Say Heck No -- The Diabolical Loosening of Birds -- Backstabber -- Psychogenic Fugue State Go Bye Bye -- Who Slew Aunt Annie -- Saved By The Bullet -- Die For Art -- Crawl This Way -- Deep Red Robin Dead -- Cellar Doors -- Draw Bridge To Doom -- Disarmed & Dangerous -- Ladies Who Lunched -- Tasting the Black Sperm of Vengeance -- Chucky's First Victim -- Smoking Kills -- Conk Goes The Boyfriend -- No You're The Puppet -- Killer Looks -- Dumb Blonde in a Box -- Dinner For Two -- Grab the Bull By the Horns -- Shoot Me Jonathan Tucker -- Dressed Down -- Killin' Nazis -- Keep Your Eyes on the Pies -- Sleep Tight -- How Much is the Peyton Out the Window -- It Takes Guts -- Buns Up -- Body Snatcher Bullseye -- Kibbles & Bits -- What's In The Basket -- A Bad Case of Bed Head -- The Last Airbender -- Loose Hips Sink Dips --Bunny Oblivion -- Railroaded -- Man vs Harpoon -- Beam Me Down -- Touchdown to Terror -- Lucy Loses Her Head -- Goo Gone -- Jake Fully Loaded -- Time Stops For One Man -- They Shoot Actresses Don't They -- Chop Top -- Paint Me Like One Of Your Dead Girls -- Doggy Puddle -- A Present of Violence -- Backseat Die-r -- Supermarket Reaped -- Jungle Boogied -- In the Hallway with the Candlestick -- This is Not the Blonde You Are Looking For -- The Sting -- Blue Mooned -- Pray For Death. -- I Want To Die! -- Come and Knock on My Face -- All Dolled Up -- Tomahawk Justice -- Sleep It Off -- The Fall Guy -- Catricide -- Rumbling in my Tummy -- Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A Monster -- Split End-- That Darn Dame -- Board Now -- Signed By The Zodiac -- Damsel in Da' Street -- Whispers of a Mad-Man -- Peek-a-Boom -- Precious Miseries -- A Triple Salchow Before Dying -- Night Nurse -- Don't Be Greedo -- The Hand That Rocks The Greenhouse -- Jacked Up -- The Big Squeeze -- Say My Name -- Silver Shamrock -- As The Wine Turns -- sleepytime -- Eat Crow -- An Un Made Man -- Bear Topped --When Your Hoop Dreams Become Your Hoop Nightmares -- Ungodly Grabbers -- Head Today Gone Tomorrow -- Something... Happened -- Phone Jacked -- Poker Face -- Not Ready For This Jelly --World's Greatest DEAD -- Swiss Miss Meteor Strike -- The Whim of a Mads Man -- Big Wheeled -- Deep Red -- Bunny Petit -- Ding Dong Going Down -- The Headless Hitchcock -- Oops I Dropped The Soap --Mary had A Little Slam -- The Beast With Too Backstabbed -- Wrath of the Merman -- Stomach Bug --Something Icky This Way Comes -- Dagon It -- The Passion of Margaret White -- Worm Food -- Kim Jong Kill -- Harkonnen A Vagrant -- A Little Off The Top -- Laid Out By Lamas -- 1 2 3 Dandy -- One Ringy-Dingy Two Ringy-Dingy Die Ringy-Dingy -- Nanny Slam -- Forced Head -- A Wolf at the Door -- X-Ray'd -- Helen Helen Helen -- Bad Robot -- Giggle Gassed -- Dark Meet -- The Lady in the Iron Mask --Croaked -- Exit Stage Crazy -- Cold Cocked By Colin Farrell -- Comb Over -- Wishing You Happy Father's Day -- Bright Light Bright Light -- Flame With Ash Highlights -- Don't Spoke Unless Stuck Onto-- Teen Angst Bullshit -- Come What May (Day) -- Dodge This -- The Dead Knock At Dawn -- A Gentlemenly Sacrifice -- Spade & Neutered -- Flambe By Vincent -- L.O.O.K.E.R Over -- Something in the Fog -- Polly Wants A Scalpel -- Major Swirly -- White Meat Dark Meat -- Oh Dae-su You Devil --Unto Darkness Delivered -- A Hammock Built For Slew -- Venom Down -- Worm Turned -- This Anaconda Do Want Some -- Cereal Murdered -- Deady Dearest -- Spotted Dick -- Chinatown Syndrome-- Feeling the Fury -- Blank With the Blank in the Blank -- Kill the Cook -- You be The Steeple -- Boiled Bashed Stabbed & Gassed -- Iced Princess -- Straight Razor Symphony -- Prey For Mantis -- Talos Unplugged -- A Mysterious Raptoring -- Mad Monkey Robo Rampage -- Give Me Liberty, Or... -- Horns of Plenty... Dead! -- Mistress-And-Run -- Wolverine Interrupted -- Who Let The Guts Out -- Zzzapped Innards-Side-Out -- Bad Romance -- Twas Beauty (And Also Aeroplanes) -- Bad Head -- Valentine's Day Massacred -- Belly Buster -- For Being Not The Babysitter -- Splat In Slo-Mo -- To Be Dis-Continued --For Being Mouthy -- Do You Smell What Billy's Mom Is Cooking -- The Milk Done Gone Bad -- An Inability To Stop Drop and Roll -- Bug Sprayed -- Extreme Makeover: Leatherface Edition -- Window Seat Suck -- Razor Bunting -- Stabbed Thru The Heart And Witches Are To Blame -- Shark Kibble -- Is That a Straight Razor In Your Trunks Or Are You Just Happy To See Me -- Bad Dates -- Fry Guy'd --Super Battle Bystander Shrapnel Shred -- Staring Contest of the Dead -- Satanic Self Sacrifice -- Fist and Fortune -- Psychedelic Penis Slice To Window Toss -- For Crimes Against Accent -- Sacked -- Speed Bumped For Traffic Spikes -- Shark Versus Jet-Ski -- Hot Oil Treatment -- Tucked In By Jason -- Just A Pair of Snowbodies -- Poison Pellet Kibble Swap -- Dolly Disassembled -- Fire Escape Fall Out -- Unbuggered -- Tell 'Em Large Marge Sent'cha -- Blue Man Gooped -- Tongue Stung -- Now Wouldn't Cha, Barracuda? -- Leaving on a Rat Plane -- Panthers! -- Fashion Faux-Pwned -- "It's Just A Box." -- Blasted Pigeons -- Taunting Ahnuld -- The Too Hot Tub -- Beyond the Veil -- Sunken Prayers-- Super Crack -- Brains Blown -- Fur For The Boogens -- White Hot Bunny Rabbit Rage --Dragged To Hell -- The TV Van That Dripped Blood -- Don't Mess With Mama -- Heads Ahoy --Martyred For Sheep -- Heads Nor Tails -- He Loves Me Knot -- The Great Bouncing Brad --Miss Kitty's 8 Mishaps -- Boat Smoosh -- Meeting the French-Tipped Menace -- A Magic Trick -- Slick Suck -- We Who Walk Here Walk Alone -- Raptor Bait -- Kneegasm'd -- Dare to Dream in Fincher -- Reach Out and Throttle Someone -- De-Faced -- Voluntary Drowning -- Cross Borne -- Pulled Up Hell's Sphincter -- An Arrow Up The Ass - The Numerous Violent Unbecomings of Olive Oyl -- Ack! Ack! Zap! -- Baby's First Acid Splash -- Chop, Drop and Sashimi Roll -- Forever Rafter -- Can't You Hear Me Now? -- Daisies Ways #5 - Harpoony Side Up -- Acid Dip -- On a Wing and a Prey -- For Standing in the Way of Sappho -- Busting Rule Number Three (For The Purpose of Number Two) -- Daisies #4 - Window Dressed To Killed --Hands Off the Haas Orb -- Bullet Ballet -- A Single Vacancy at the Roach Motel -- A School Bus Slipped Thru The Ice -- Trache-AAHHHH!!!-tomy'd - For Mel Gibson's Sins -- A Wide Stanced Slashing --- Daisies Ways #3 - Scratch n' Snuffed -- The Victim of a Viscous Hit & Run-- Curled -- Kabobbed -- Daisies Ways #2 - Aggravated Cementia -- Boo! Nun! -- 2009's Ways Not To Die -- Bug Scratch Fever -- Daisies Ways #1 - Deep Fat Fried in My Own Unique Blend of 500 Herbs & Spices -- By the Yard End of the Stick -- Screwed From A Very Great Distance-- A Righteous Bear-Jew Beatdown -- Fisted By Hugo Sitglitz -- Xeno Morphed -- Fuck-Stuck -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 4 -- Lava Bombed -- The Cradle Will Rock... Your Face Off!!! -- The Food of the Nilbog Goblins -- The Slugs Is Gonna Gitcha -- Phone Shark -- Hide The Carrot -- Sarlacc Snacked -- Avada Kedavra!!! -- Hooked, Lined and Sinkered -- "The Libyans!" -- Axe Me No Questions -- Pin the Chainsaw on the Prostitute -- The Wrath of the Crystal Unicorn -- The Ultimate Extreme Make-Over -- Drown In A Sink Before The Opening Credits Even Roll -- The Dog Who Knew Too Much -- Don't Die Over Spilled Milk -- Inviting the Wrath of Aguirre -- An Inconceivable Outwitting -- The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique -- Nipple Injected Blue Junk -- Your Pick Of The Deadly Six -- Thing Hungry --Don't Fuck With The Serial Killer's Daughter -- DO Forget To Add The Fabric Softener -- Any Of The Ways Depicted In This Masterpiece Of Lost Cinema -- Rode Down In The Friscalating Dusklight -- Good Morning, Sunshine! -- Mornin' Cuppa Drano -- The Cylon-Engineered Apocalypse -- Tender-Eye-zed -- Martian Atmospheric Asphyxiation -- Maimed By A Mystical Person-Cat -- The Sheets Are Not To Be Trusted -- Handicapable Face-Hacked -- I Did It For You, Faramir -- Summertime In The Park... Of A Pedophile's Mind -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 3 -- Strung Up With Festive Holiday Bulbs By Santa Claus Himself -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 2 -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 1 -- Decapitated Plucked Broiled & Sliced -- Head On A Stick! -- A Trip To The Ol' Wood-Chipper -- Pointed By The T-1000 --Sucking Face With Freddy Krueger -- A Pen-Full Of Home-Brewed Speed to The Eye --Motivational Speech, Interrupted -- A Freak Ephemera Storm -- When Ya Gotta Go... Ya Gotta Go -- Hoisted By Your Own Hand Grenade -- Having The Years Suction-Cupped Away --Criss-Cross -- Turned Into A Person-Cocoon By The Touch Of A Little Girl's Mirror Doppleganger -- Satisfying Society's "Pop Princess" Blood-Lust -- Done In By The Doggie Door-- Tuned Out -- Taking the 107th Step -- Rescuing Gretchen -- Incinerated By Lousy Dialogue-- Starred & Striped Forever -- Vivisection Via Vaginally-Minded Barbed-Wire -- Chompers (Down There) -- Run Down By M. Night Shyamalan -- Everything Up To And Including The Kitchen Toaster -- Sacrificed To Kali -- Via The Gargantuan Venom Of The Black Mamba Snake -- Turned Into An Evil Robot -- The Out-Of-Nowhere Careening Vehicle Splat -- "Oh My God... It's Dip!!!" -- Critter Balled -- Stuff'd -- A Hot-Air Balloon Ride... Straight To Hell!!!-- Puppy Betrayal -- High-Heeled By A Girlfriend Impersonator -- Flip-Top Beheaded --Because I'm Too Goddamned Beautiful To Live -- By Choosing... Poorly... -- Fried Alive Due To Baby Ingenuity -- A Good Old-Fashioned Tentacle Smothering -- Eepa! Eepa! -- Gremlins Ate My Stairlift -- An Icicle Thru The Eye -- Face Carved Off By Ghost Doctor After Lesbian Tryst With Zombie Women -- Electrocuted By Fallen Power-Lines -- A Mouthful Of Flare --Taken By The TV Lady -- Bitten By A Zombie -- Eaten By Your Mattress -- Stuffed To Splitting -- Face Stuck In Liquid Nitrogen -- Crushed By Crumbling Church Debris -- Bitten By The Jaws Of Life -- A Machete To The Crotch -- Showering With A Chain-Saw -- In A Room Filled With Razor Wire -- Pod People'd With Your Dog -- Force-Fed Art -- Skinned By A Witch -- Beaten With An Oar -- Curbed -- Cape Malfunction -- In The Corner -- Cooked In A Tanning Bed -- Diced -- Punched Through The Head -- Bugs Sucking On Your Head