Night #31: Suspiria (1977)

suspiria poster

Directed By: Dario Argento

So here we are, the last night. Good news is that its Halloween! And for once I’ve not gone with the John Carpenter movie of the same name, or Trick ‘R Treat. Right before the remake comes out it’s time to take a look at a classic of Italian horror cinema.

Usually incorrectly identified as a Giallo movie, Suspiria instead tips its hat toward the supernatural almost right from the start. Even before Jessica Harper’s Suzy leaves the airport, Argento’s visuals and the iconic theme by Goblin puts the viewer on edge and that’s before we get to the visceral setpiece that follows minutes later.

Suzy arrives at the Tanz Dance Academy in Munich just in time to see Patricia mutter something and leave. It’s not long before Patricia is attacked by an unknown assailant, her heart stabbed and thrown through a glass ceiling. As far as opening scenes go, it deserves to be up there with the most iconic ones.

What unfolds is a slow-burn as maggots fall from the ceiling and Suzy starts to suffer dizzy spells and nose bleeds. And in the multicoloured halls of the Tanz Academy, something is clearly not right.

I don’t know what there is to say about this that hasn’t been said by everyone who’s already seen it. It’s an amazing dreamy looking movie that like Mario Bava’s Blood And Black Lace is great to look at even with the sound off. I mean really, there’s no reason the school should look like this, but it’s sumptuous.

Suspiria-080

It’s also fairly brisk, which makes the remakes nearly 3-hour runtime a little worrying, though from the looks of the trailer it’s going to incorporate elements of quasi-sequel Inferno and the sadly awful Mother Of Tears. Still, it’ll be interesting if that movie can match this one’s stylish setpieces (Including a fantastic chase through the school’s halls that ends with an unexpected surprise).

Like a lot of Italian movies that were shot without sound and then dubbed afterwards – Jessica Harper recalled shooting a scene while a props guy was hammering away nearby – there’s something askew about hearing people speak that only adds to the otherness of it all. Though it is amusing to hear the very German Udo Kier talk with an incredibly American accent. I keep using poor adjectives to describe this but, in a twisted way, this is Argento’s own telling of a fairy tale, with Suzy serving as the innocent drawn into a sinister world. It probably would’ve resonanted more if Argento got to use his original idea of the cast being children, though the idea was shut down by his producers. Even so, he didn’t make many changes to the script, so the interactions between the students often comes over as childish, which again only enhances the feeling of otherness.

So what else can I say? It’s a masterpiece and everyone should see it, not just fans of horror but movies in general.

And that’s it! 31 nights down and they’ve flown by. We’ve had some good, some bad and some really awful but it’s been fun to write about even though I seem to have no critical abilities. But hey, this website is free so what more do you want from me? I’ll add to this peridocally when I have something to write about, and I hope to have more things to write about. I got a slew of short stories coming back up on Amazon soon which I’ll link to of course, so don’t forget to check out my Twitter. To the couple of people in the US who have been reading these, thanks! I have no idea how you got here but I’m glad you are. The world is going down the pan pretty quickly these days it seems, so any sort of enjoyment you got out of my waffling is worth it.

Happy Halloween everyone. I hope it’s frightfully good.

 

 

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