The Scoop: 1977 R, directed by Dario Argento and starring Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini and Flavio Bucci.
Tagline: Once You’ve Seen It, You Will Never Again Feel Safe In The Dark
Summary Capsule: An American student attends a European ballet school (which is scary) that turns out to be a witch coven (I suppose that’s scarier)
Kyle’s Rating: Did we just see her heart get stabbed? BLARGH!
Kyle’s Review: Dario Argento is not only a God of Horror, but he’s actually pretty scary-looking himself. And yet, he has not only produced many incredible Italian horror films, he also produced a shagalicious daughter, Asia Argento. That’s an impressive résumé!
Other than the lovely Asia, I’d say Argento’s finest achievement is his film Suspiria (I pronounce it Suh-spear-ria). It’s loud, it’s wacky, and it’s an ultimate exercise in style over substance. Just like prom! Only soaked through with blood and supernatural shenanigans!
Large-noggin-ed but beautiful American Jessica Harper journeys to the prestigious Tanz Akademie in Germany to become the best ballet dancer she can be. Even though she thinks she’s having a bad night when she arrives during a torrential German downpour and no one seems to know her at the Akademie, two of her classmates have it worse when they are horribly butchered by an unseen slasher. Harper thinks she spotted a clue to the murders when one of the victims ran by her outside the school, but she just can’t figure out what it was. That’s too bad, because as mysterious forces begin to assail her and maggots start pouring out of the ceiling, Harper is going to need all the clues and help she can get just to survive.
Though my favorite horror film is Halloween, Suspiria is a close second. Halloween is all about subtlety, shadows and suspense. Suspiria is all about vibrant throbbing visuals and really loud murderous activity. The simple plot takes a backseat to the mechanics of the film, providing us with just enough story to accompany the unforgettable images and camera techniques.
The murder scenes are original and inventive, and they are probably among the most awful I’ve ever seen! Argento knows how to wring maximum thrills and chills out of every scare, as well as how to inflict nightmares on impressionable young horror film fans. Whether it’s a side-view of boots crushing thousands of maggots or a girl falling into a room full of barbed wire fence, Argento keeps the optical overload going to the fiery finish. And the rock score by Goblin kicks ass!
If you think you like horror movies, YOU MUST SEE SUSPIRIA if for no other reason than to spot the images that have inspired countless films since. If you don’t like horror films, YOU MUST SEE SUSPIRIA so you’ll either be converted or have empirical vomit-inducing evidence that you really don’t like horror movies. But with a strong heroine in Harper and stupendous images of terror, Suspiria is definitely a horror-must-see. Just keep that barf bag handy!
- Kyle: In my travels through time and space, I’ve had numerous opportunities to speak with other horror aficionados about several topics, including Suspiria. I’ve heard the opinion that in this film Jessica Harper is not really the innocent ballet student she appears to be. Instead, it is theorized she is either some sort of witch-fighter or supernatural investigator. I don’t get that, though I will admit some of Harper’s responses and reactions to what’s going on do make her seem a little too at home among the nightmare she’s in the middle of. Bad acting? Good acting, with a clear explanation of her motives edited out? Who cares! It’s just a horror film! But it’s something to think about.
- The credits read “You have just seen Suspiria”
Dr. Mandel: Bad luck isn’t brought by broken mirrors, but by broken minds.
Sarah: Susie, do you know anything about… witches?
Miss Tanner: I had no idea you were so strong willed. I can see that once you make up your mind about something, nothing will change it for you. My compliments.
If you liked this movie, try these: