Monday, 11 December 2006

The Sinister Monk / Suspiria / Inferno

Over the past few days I've been watching a fair number of the German Edgar Wallace krimis, looking for similarities with and differences from the Italian giallo.

Two interesting little intertextual connections that came out of The Sinister Monk are however with two of Argento's more horror-oriented ventures, Suspiria and Inferno.

One of the minor characters in The Sinister Monk – otherwise the typical Edgar Wallace heiress in peril plot combined with the kidnapping/white slavery plot and a delightfully bizarre whip-wielding masked monk – is a seemingly harmless, eccentric old artist and pigeon fancier, Alfons Short, whose hobby is making death-masks for the living. (I'm sure we can work Andre Bazin in there as well, then.)

Whether Argento saw The Sinister Monk is, of course, another matter, but I do find it an nice coincidence that Alfons Short should be played by Rudolf Sch√ľndler, Professor Milius in Suspiria. Especially seeing as the piece of music he plays on his record player is none other than the chorus of the Hebrew slaves from Verdi's Nabucco – i.e. the same piece Argento uses in Inferno to accompany Marc Elliot's sighting of the Mother of Tears in the conservatory and to choregraph the murder of Sara.

“You've probably heard this before,” indeed.

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