Suspiria (1977)

 

Wanna jump to my opinion on this film? Look no further than this poster, Kiddies.
Wanna jump to my opinion on this film? Look no further than this poster, Kiddies.

Genre: Mystery Horror Thriller

Starring: Stefania Casini (Andy Warhol's Dracula1900), Jessica Harper (Shock Treatment Pennies from Heaven)

Directed By: Dario Argento (Profondo rossoCreepers)

Overview: When an American girl joins a German dance academy, she soon discovers that reluctant students are disappearing, all the clues leading back to a coven of witches.

It's critically acclaimed. It's got awards up the wazoo, it's considered classic, standard Genre-advancing fare, and still I can't help but be bored to tears by Suspiria.

In all fairness, perhaps what I needed was a nice copy, something in widescreen, something that was colour corrected to enhance the oversaturated colours, something that would properly convey the visually unsettling mood inspired by Avant-Garde Expressionistic film... you know instead of the $1.99 bargain bin at Musicworld's Grand Bankruptcy Sale.

No. No I won't blame the copy I watched. I'll stand by my dissenting vote that shall go against the grain of critics everywhere and declare proudly that I've endured the worst Silent and early talkie film has had to offer and have been able to enjoy them regardless.

Yes, yes, of course there's moment deserving of praise. Goblin is one hell of an amazing band, and the work they've done on my favorite horror film wasn't a fluke. The musical treatment of Suspiria is indeed inspirational. The particularly gory deaths in the beginning of the film are also quite nice, what with faces full of panes of glass and the like, but all these praises are begrudgingly given, as they may serve to dilute the original message: Suspiria will sit at the height of cinematic borefestitude as a shining example of what the worst of the best has to offer.

Suspiria - it's like Go-Bots. The first good idea doesn't necessarily mean it has to be forever cherished. Make way for Megatron.

Classic Awesome.  Yeah yeah, I'll give it that.
Classic Awesome. Yeah yeah, I'll give it that.

Performance: 7 Cinematography: 8 Script: 7 Plot: 6 Mood: 7

Overall Rating: 70% (Sux-spiria)
Aftertaste:

My favourite parts of Suspiria were the ones I remembered seeing as a child, and that has now been sullied. Luckily, my memories of listening to the soundtrack on my Walkman are still cozy reminders of my high-school days.

What I find most ironic is the tagline: The Only Thing More Terrifying Than The Last 12 Minutes Of This Film Is Having To Sit Through The First 92.

Did I paraphrase that?

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Squish I'm going to disagagree with the statement you made about watching crappy copies of films vs. watching pristine prints. Just because you've sat through horrible prints of some films and managed to enjoy them doesn't mean that watching a bad print can ruin a film experience - particularly with Argento.

 

I'm not a  huge horror fan, and I don't think that Argento is the God that his fans think he is. But his good films - and I count Suspiria as his best, or perhaps second-best, are all about the visuals. The plot, the performances (you gave them a 7? How generous!) all fall by the wayside. It's all about colour, composition and intricate camera setups for Argento. Take that away with a crappy, faded, pan-and-scan version, and you're losing the lifeforce behind his work.

 

Seriously, do yourself a favour and watch his films in good prints - Anchor Bay has a great deal of his early ones on DVD in restored versions, with all the gore intact. They're not hard to find, and if you're not scared by the content of his films (I've never found anythings cary in his films), you'll at least be blown away by his visual flair - I actually find his visual creativity really inspiring!


Well, well. A better praise have I not heard.

I promise to revisit this film... years from  now.


Hey,

    Really enjoy your reviews. Much like yourself I love Dawn of the Dead, but find most of Argento's films to be on the slow side. The toughest thing about evaluating films is the timing factor. I was discussing horror flicks a while back with a much younger cousin (20 years) and he remarked how boring and lame films like The Exorcist and Evil Dead were. I explained to him that it was because he'd grown up watching all the films that have been inspired by them, and he might see them differently if he had fresh eyes. Even if you try to keep this in mind while watching a movie it's impossible to experience it the same way you would at the time of it's release.

Do you try to factor this in while rating a film?


That's a damn good question. I think I may even write a post on it, if I have time, which I probably don't, but the short answer is this:

I try to see films in their original context, and my love of Silebnt film will attest to how I can appreciate the era and the sytle and the 'first' of things, but imagine watching Night of The Living Dead after having seen 20 modern Zombie movies, and not even knowing that it was the first that started the 'Zombie as we know it' film?

You can't blame a critic for not knowing, and much less the layman or occasional fan.  In reading my own early posts, I know that there was a pretty big learning curve that I can attribute to writing, reading and 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

I can watch The Jazz Singer and get tingles when I hear Al Jolson Say "You ain't heard nothin' yet", but I can also understand how younger people who saw Grindhouse out of 'film fanatic context' didn't  like/understand/appreciate it. It's like Tarantino's big inside joke. you have to know it to get it the way the rest of us do. And I'm glad that I know the kinds of films that Tarantino watches, because had I myself not seen them, I wouldn't know he was paying hommage so often.

In short, yes I try to see a film the way it was meant to, but I need to understand that my context is today, and my paradigm is difficult to shift, and for as much as I try to know as much about 'film firsts' as possible, I'm sure stuff is seeping through the cracks.

It's not necesarilly a bad thing however. One can see a film like All Quiet On The Western Front today and see something entirely different because many wars have taken place since that time, and though the setting is The Great War, we can connect with it on a modern level too.

 


I remember first seeing the Night of the Living Dead when I was younger and thinking how boring and silly it was.  This of course was after I had seen other zombie films.  However, now that I am older and am more interested in film and film history I can appreciate it for what it is and have watched it probably 2 or more times since then. 

 

I don't know if they have Netflix where you live Squish (is it Canada?) but they actually have Suspiria on their instant watch streaming section in widescreen HD.  I actually just rewatched it a few days ago and found that I liked it better on second viewing than the first.  However, I still don't see it as a masterpiece or anything.  In fact I'm not an Argento fan at all.  The music was a standout though as were the campy and colorful sets.  The one thing I really can't enjoy about his films is the dubbing.  I think the American chick was the only one who wasn't Italian and the rest of them were dubbed in English by different actors.  It really is distracting.


By the way did anyone else find the redhead dancer who was killed in the wire pit much more compelling to watch than the lead?


I do live in Canada! We do have Netflix, but it doesn't interest me. I'll wait for my Zip.ca to get instant streaming.

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