Saturday, March 14, 2009

Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria is a stimulant for the auditory and visual senses, mesmerizing me from the beginning with its artistic use of color and sound.

The story is simple enough: A shy young American girl moves to Europe to attend a prestigious ballet school, but soon finds that the school is rooted in a dark history. As things unfold, she grows more and more suspicious of the faculty and begins inquiring about witchcraft. Like I said, simple, used before, but Argento spins the tale into a brilliant nightmare, using intricate set decoration and feverish music.

The music was the first thing I noticed. It wasn't typical for a horror movie; it was awkward yet fitting, adding to the surreal atmosphere. Provided by Goblin, an Italian progressive rock band, Argento made the right choice.

The use of color (especially blue) was another brilliant effect to create a mood and foreshadowing. I was in sensory overload by the end of the first murder scene. Ornate designs and symmetrical patterns, awash in striking color, covered the screen and pulled me into a house of horrors similar to the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, but dare I say better?

As far as pacing and plot are concerned, Suspiria is a perfect blend. After the opening scenes, I had to keep watching. I was kept in the dark just enough to provoke my curiosity but not leave me bewildered. Leading up to the climatic ending, Argento paints the screen with more than a few sick images and just enough clues to explain the strange behavior of the girl from the beginning.

The best part of the movie was the end, as it should be. The only words I can think of to describe it are feverish, frantic, frenetic and...fitting. Oh, so fitting. Why make a movie at all if the end isn't going to leave the audience satisfied? In the case of Suspiria, we've been rising with the suspense like a hot air balloon, waiting for our suspicions to be confirmed. The movie ends on a high note of disturbing images, bloodshed, and demonic forces unleashed!

Suspiria stands apart from the legions of cookie cutter witch flicks and invokes new dimensions of horror cinema. It seamlessly takes pieces from many puzzles and fits them together to create a masterpiece. I was entertained by Jenifer, but left spellbound by Suspiria.


  1. Now be sure to pick up Inferno and Mother of Tears, the two other entries in the Three Mothers trilogy. Inferno maintains the same use of sensual style, but Mother of Tears is a deviation from the other two. IMO, neither achieve the same indescribable affect of Suspiria, but they are each unique in their own ways and definitely stand out against any other horror at the time of each's creation. Argento > all.

  2. Also, if you haven't seen it, I'm a big fan of Bava's Demons, but happy to hear you enjoyed the first of the Three Mothers.

  3. dragonmanes, Bo - Keep your comments and suggestions coming. At this rate, you guys will help me move into my sophomore year of Horror Academy by the end of 2009!

  4. I feel it's noteworthy to point out that it is now a few days since I watched Suspiria and I have been finding myself involuntarily drawn back to it...