on March 7, 2001
Although I'm partial to TENEBRE myself, this is still an excellent film. Jessica Harper is Suzy, an American girl who arrives in Europe to attend an exclusive dance school. Almost immediately, sinister things begin to happen, ranging from a "rain of maggots" (a devilishly funny sequence) to some of the most cleverly lensed and choreographed murders ever put onscreen. To be fair, there are a few unintentional laughs and most of the performances are less than profound (some of the dubbing is pretty poor, too), but this is not what Argento was concerned with. He is out to shock his viewers, and more often than not he succeeds. The plot is weak, but this only contributes to its strange, nightmarish feel. The set design is often nauseatingly colorful, and succeeds in disorienting the viewer totally... it seems that in every shadow, around every weirdly lit, deliriously angular corner lurks another delectable horror. And then of course there's that crazy, crazy music (which sounds to me alot like The Residents). Harper is a good actress and she makes us care about her character here; I'm a big fan of hers, and I think it sucks that she hasn't made it big in America. This goes double for Argento, who happens to be pretty well-respected in Europe. A truly unique experience, not as good as TENEBRE in my opinion, but still a more than adequate suspense film. Proves, to my mind, that Argento (and NOT De Palma, that hack pretender) is Hitchcock's true successor.
on February 3, 2001
...Are the first 90! Suspiria is my favorite horror film of all time, and this is why. For starters, Argento does not rely on simply dialogue and acting to tell the story. Instead, he throws all of himself into creating an atmosphere that is dreamlike, flamboyant, and wicked through use of the camera, the set, and color. The storyline is simplistic and to the point. Suzy Banyon is a young American girl, going to a German dance school. Upon her arrival it is immediately clear that she is not wanted there. The night is dark, stormy, and rain is pouring. An anonymous voice denies Suzy's placement at the school and is told to leave. A girl rushes out of the door and rasps something incoherent about flowers and a secret. From then on, the pace is quickened and through fantastic murders Suzy and her new friend and roommate, Sara, try to end the mystery of their dance school once and for all and make the connection between the administration and the murders. Argento makes brilliant use of colour here; mainly red, green, yellow. The many meanings of those colors can be for fear, tension, confusion, caution, etc. The camera makes hallways seem infinitely long, and they creep up on their characters. In addition, there is a stark contrast between the hushed dialogue of the mainly Italian cast and the loud, almost to the point of annoyance, soundtrack by none other than Goblin. The music is pulsating and fuels the tension, most noteably for Goblin's track "Witch", which plays during a murder scene witha blind man in his dog. Watch this movie - please? :)
on October 7, 2000
This is real hardcore horror. The film has a presence and atmosphere so unique and terrifying it will astound and shock you in equal measure. Right from the start, with the Goblins creepy if a little nauseating soundtrack, you know youre in for one hell of a ride. The first murder seqeunce is one of the most imaginitive, terrifying and intense scenes ever created this side of Wes Craven. The execution of the setpieces are very sophisticated technically (strange for a 70's horror flick) and the sound and cinematography could teach even the most skilled horror directors a thing or two. The plot is a little thin but Argento really makes it come alive. The way this man visualises pure terror is disturbing in itself. The acting is a little poor but then most horror films from the 70's (despite the inferior The Excorsist) are'nt exactly oscar worthy on those levels. It's the type of horror film that makes you feel like a young child; vunerable, unaware of the hysteria thats about to take place and unable to cope with the horror your'e confronted with, as well as making you feel like you've never seen anything like it before (which you have'nt) or will ever see again.
on September 7, 2000
Italian horror maestro Dario Argento is the best and most famous Italian horror director and for a good reason. 'Suspiria' is Argento at his best and probably his most accessible film. The movie has a flimsy plot that has something to do with a witch's coven running a dancing academy. But, as with almost all of Argento's films, the plot is beside the point, the brilliantly staged horror sequences are the film's plus. Argento made innovative use of lighting and sound to create genuinely frightening sequences that are as dazzling to behold as they are scary. It opens with one of the most viscous murder scenes ever filmed, which is horrifyingly unforgettable, and escalated to a frightening and suspenseful climax. But this is more than an ultra-stylized screamer, the suspense sequences are truly brilliant and also extremely scary. The best parts of the film are the first 10-min. and the last 15-min., those scenes alone are among the scariest and hair-raisingly suspenseful sequences in any horror film. Continuously scary and fascinating to behold, the grotesque has never seemed this artistic. From a scale of 1-10 I give this film a 7!
on July 23, 2000
This is just what you would expect out of a horror movie, Graphic Violence, suspense, and spine-chilling horror.
This movie starts out with a girl in a taxicab. On her way to her destination, which is the ballet school, she sees a girl crying for help. You don't know the fate of the girl until you see her walk into a girl's room. At that moment, the suspense build up until the final gory moment.
As the new girl walks down the halls, she begins to find out a horrifying secret. The school is a coven for witches, and they have been sacrificing some of the students. Horror awaits in the halls, the body count mounts rapidly, and the new girl finally realizes why she had thought about coming there.
After eavesdropping and finding out the truth, she is forced to face a creature that can change invisible at any moment.
The last ten minutes are the most suspenseful and chilling, but the rest is also good. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a chiller.
on July 13, 2000
Horror demigod Dario Argento goes all out for his loyal audiences in this feverish, hallucinatory downward spiral into the supernatural.
The plot is quite simple. Suzy goes to a German ballet academy. She finds out it is run by wiches. Anyone who snoops around or offends them are brutally murdered. It is up to Suzy to stop them. To tell you the truth, Suzy isn't really a good heroine, she takes a quite passive role in the whole movie. Her friend could have very well been the main character.
Well enough of the plot, because we all know that our beloved Argento does not specialize in plotting. The one element that separates this movie from all the others is the pure amount of visully imagery. Its almost like a modern day Alice in Wonderland. Argento inundates the audience with eerie, monochoromatic lighting schemes which consist of red, green, and yellow light. Futhermore, the movie is rife with unsettling and mysterious set pieces...such as the lobby with colored glass and the taxi cab. With such unnerving imagery, the viewer never feels a sense of calm and there is alway a quiet apprehension. You'll never experience anything like Suspiria outside of Argento's work.
GOBLIN, the soundtrack band, is at their absolute best here. The sound track (and effects) is so intense, you can almost feel the knife being stabbed into your heart or feel the supernatural forces surround you from all sides. Very jarring and frightening.
Although this film has a low body count, the murders are very brutal and disturbing...combined with the relentless score. I guarantee you will never forget the first murders! But, once again Suspiria is visual rollercoaster more than anything else.
I did not give Suspiria five stars for two reasons. One: The ending is not at all what it is cracked up to be. Seriously, Im not going give it away for you, but im telling you now it is quite disappointing. Two: this film lacks a strong protagonistic presence. Suzy finally snaps into action only in the last third of the film. In the beginning she is either lying in bed or moping around while her friend uncovers the secret of the witches. Other than that, this film is superb.
Just for the stunning visuals and ruthless soundtrack i would STRONLY RECOMMEND Suspiria. Be ready for the ride!
on March 29, 2000
Produced by one Argento and directed by another, this film casts its spell by laying a very thick veil of atmosphere over a scanty, near-barren world of a plot. What makes 'Suspiria' so scary is a very clever fusion of Dario Argento's slick and innovative direction, excellent set design, a complex soundtrack and the camera's worship of the night. The plot, already complicated, is made more convoluted to the viewer's senses by Argento's myriad quirks in his filming technique. The acting is good and fills in the cracks left by the ridiculously gory killings. Jessica Harper makes for a convincing heroine and the makeup for the witch at the movie's conclusion is nothing short of superb. One skill Argento appears to have toyed with at the time of shooting was making the plot fall away in the viewer's mind, leaving behind an erratic spiralling of crazy, dreamlike sequences of action and 'psychospection'. In 'Suspiria', the first killing is unnerving in an overt manner but by the time the blind pianist's hound has ripped out his throat, the horror has become more esoteric, more symbolic and certainly more disturbing.
Strangely enough, Argento was unable to repeat the success of his formula in his later pictures. In effectiveness, 'Suspiria' is his forte as well as the prime example of what the Italian horror film boom of the mid-Seventies to the early-Eighties had on offer to the discriminating fan.
Even with its heavy helping of gore, 'Suspiria' is mostly composed of suggestive horror and atmospheric chills. The Goblins provide an utterly frenetic soundtrack of chimes and percussion which serves to genuinely amplify the terror. The photography is beautiful and the quiet dialogue scenes are capable of lulling the viewer into a dreamy false sense of security, making the action and horror bits all the more of a rude awakening when they crash through the ceiling.
Streets ahead of 'New York Ripper' and light years beyond its sequel, 'Inferno', 'Suspiria' is easily the choice pick of the Argento collection. In fact, it is so terrifying that it could easily pass as the scariest film of the late 1970's.
on February 26, 2000
Beatiful scoring, fantastic set pieces, lovely camera work, some of the tensest moments I've experienced in front of a tv set, some fun (and very cliched) supporting perfomances, and a very appealing (and a bit befuddled) lead. GOD, if only we could have gotten a story and some character development to boot, I would rank this as a true film landmark. This is by far one of the most well crafted horror films I've seen, and it held my interest through the whole film, making it's flaws easily forgiveable since it's SOOOO good where it's good. Afterwards though, I can think of so many ways they could have made the story more involving and so much more that could have been done with the leads, that it leaves me a bit frustrated. Sure, as just a slasher flick, it's hard to find better than this, but I think horror is a bit more broad a genre, and it's hard to find films that don't compromise and display just that, an "it's just a slasher flick" mentality, and go for the compromise. The ideas for where you can go with this are endless...the dance academy actually being a sort of "hunting grounds" for unsuspecting prospective witches, with the Olgas finding success, and the sara's and pat's paying the ultimate price for not being good enough is my favorite...I would have loved something like that. Or perhaps Suzy having known all along that some supernatural force was at work there, and was covertly working all along to find it and finish it. (that one i see as almost possible, since throughout the film, she seems a bit too wary for someone who doesn't know something's up, and yet very calm, as if she's thinking "yeah, yeah, I'm playing along, playing along, I'm the pretty dancer girl, playing along...*eyes dart* what the hell kind of place is this...okay, playing along, playing along" attitude, especially the eyes darting thing...I thought it was cute (BACK! BACK YOU BIZARRE JESSICA HARPER FETISHESTS!). That and the nice ambiguous, blow it all off ending make her look pretty suspicious there...oh there were six or seven ideas that are better plot structures for this film that I was thinking of, where are they, oh they're lost in the sea of hundreds of better ideas to pick from. It's a love/hate thing for me with Suspiria. I love it while I'm watching it, for the incredible visual and sonic ride it can give in parts, and then hating it afterwards for not having set these scenes into a story where they could make some sense, and have these scenes be propelling something. Oh well...eventually...but for now, it's gonna have to do. I will say I that with all the countless hideously bad horror flicks there are out there, Suspiria definitely gives you more than the average GOOD horror movie, and that's always a bit of sweet relief.
on February 5, 2000
There are two versions of Suspiria and only two. (Not including television, which I do not consider a version, and not including anything Dario Argenti might have in his closet). The one on the Magnum label, perhaps out of print, is the complete film. The one sold here is a tolerable version. Essentially the following scenes are of questionable completeness: do we have the full opening scenes murder of the girls in the Tanz Akadamie? No version shows a "heart being yanked out". A knife is thrust into a beating heart...hardly the same thing. Do we have the full scene of the blind man killed in the square? Do we have the full ending? The last of the three is indeed where editing most sorely hurts. This is somewhat odd since the first two gore scenes are the more shockingly violent. The ending of edited versions feels rushed compared to the rest of the movie, whose pace is refreshingly slow. I disagree vehemently with those who attack the writing and the plot. The plot makes perfect sense. Here are some clues to its meaning: Jessica Harper's character is not entirely innocent.
on February 2, 2000
It's a gruesome witch-tale set in an European ballet school told in a wild visual style and strikingly beautiful sets, and bloody explicit (and genuinely frightening) murder scenes. Jessica Harper is the most beliveable actress in the film but I think the obvious dubbing of some of the other voices ruins the performances of the other girls. I'm not sure why the dubbing was done (the lips match so they ARE speaking English) but I suspect it may have been done because the accents were too thick. The dialogue is often dumb but this film is a work of art and a real treat for those who can appreciate Argento's brilliant style. Beware of older prints that were cut for American distribution. I once attended a showing of this film at the Chicago Art Institute in which Dario Argento himself appeared in person to talk about his films. Embarrassingly, the film had been one of those butchered prints. The current video releases are intact and in wide- screen. Although I could do without the hokey narrative at the very beginning while the opening credits are rolling--it sounds really stupid and it is NOT needed. This is even present on the current prints and I wonder if it was what Dario had intended. Enjoy!