Sunday, April 15, 2018

Movie: Suspiria (1977)

Happy Belated Friday the 13! So I'm still flying from an Dario Argento directed Suspiria high. Suspiria is in my top 10 favorite horror movies and I was able to catch the restored version on the big screen at The Screening Room with some friends this past Friday. The first time I saw it, I think it was a Netflix recommendation about 15 years ago and I fell in love.



The central story is about a young American ballerina ~ Suzy Bannon ~ that goes to study ballet in a prestigious German school, little does she know she's walking into grisly murders and supernatural horror! 


The first kill in it's colorful glory or should I say gory?! Muahaha. 
It sets the tone for the whole film.

There's quirky characters with extreme close-ups, and even characters that are never seen completely on screen such as the mysterious ballet school director and a persona I call "glowing eyes". If you've never seen the movie, I'm not going to give too much away. The premise sounds basic but you really have to see it to experience the full impact that this nightmarish movie bombards your senses with.



"Glowing Eyes."

It's a giallo style film aka Italian directed murder mystery with elements of horror where the killer isn't revealed until the end. The late 1960s through to the end of the 1970s perfected the giallo movies which were also precursors to the modern day slasher films. American examples include Psycho and Alice Sweet Alice.

Stylistically the colors and cinematography play a huge role in Suspiria. The colors are vibrant and surreal. The palette is red, red, and more red. There's so much red, from the blood and wine that looks like red paint, to the stained glass of the school, to the outside of the school building, to the red lighting throughout. Sure there's some green and blue hues, but red overpowers the whole movie. It makes the film cartoon-like and floods the frames.


Red wine, blood or paint? Hmm.


Inside of the school.


 So many red light filters.

Contributing to the giallo aesthetic is camera angles. They are often bizarre and disorienting with close ups and shock cuts. You'd think that would date it, but because of the extreme psychological violence and gore it could be a current movie. One scene in particular that may have inspired the Saw movies has to do with jumping into a room full of razor wire to get out alive or the woods in the opening scene could easily be the opening of Twin Peaks. Even the raining maggots scene could be pulled from a contemporary horror movie.



Suspiria woods.




 Twin Peaks woods.


I hate to say, Madame Blanc played by Joan Bennett is terrible in this ~ her final movie. Her acting is extremely wooden and it sounds like she's reading a cue card. In comparison to playing Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows this was not a good use of her talent. In my opinion she's the worst part of the movie. Maybe she was supposed to play her that way? Oh well, her vintage dresses and jewelry are fab!


Joan Bennett in Suspiria.

There's a cameo from one of my fav cult actors Udo Kier. He only has a small part in the film where he talks smack about witches in his mint green blazer. His blazer is everything!


Udo and Jessica Harper in Suspiria.

The other star of the show is the soundtrack from the band Goblin. They set the unnerving  tone of the movie, with dissonant chords and suspenseful soundscapes. Picture a bloody cult ritual and the background music ~ it would be Goblin with it's bong sounds and disembodied voices. I will forever regret missing Gobin in concert on Halloween in Toronto years ago.

Suspiria theme... 


Jessica Harper, the actress that plays Suzy is great in the movie. She's known for other roles in the cult classics The Phantom of the Paradise and the sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment. Rumor has it she will also be starring in the remake of Suspiria that comes out this year. Yes, a remake. It was supposed to come out in 2017, for the 40th anniversary and I heard Dario Argento was not consulted and isn't happy about it. The new version has some huge shoes to fill and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I might see it.

 By the end of Suspiria you'll be asking yourself, "Do you really know anything about witches?"

Suspiria trailer... 


Bonus reason I love it: The main character is named Suzy Bannon and it always reminds me of my favorite band in the whole world, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Siouxsie Sioux's real name is Susan Ballion. (I know, not super close but close enough for me.)


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