Suspiria (1977), or I’m Lost In All The Colors

20 05 2009

Dario Argento, sometimes called the master of Italian horror, brings a fresh and exciting spin on the genre today with his classic 1977 film Suspiria. I really enjoyed it, and it’s not just because of the sexy Italian language floating around everywhere

Suzy is a young and talented dancer, who is in Germany to enroll in a famous dancing academy. But all is not as it seems for the lithe and beautiful young lady as fellow dance cadets start to get killed around her in brutal and terrifying ways. It becomes clear that whatever is brutalizing her schoolmates is not entirely natural. Strange, unbelievable occurrences strike terror into Suzy’s heart, and it is not clear whether she will survive the following nights.

Looking online, there’s been an awful lot written about this film, and I can see just how beloved it is in the annals of horror fandom. What makes it so special? I find it to be the sheer otherworldliness of the picture. Like ghosts painting self-portraits, there is the presence of something not quite human here, a feeling doubtless manufactured by a man whose specialty in the giallo and suspense genres prepared him to create something on an entirely different level from most films.

Scenes like the one above and others show off a trademark of Argento’s style of using colors to disarm the audience. This was the last film to ever use Technicolor, and it certainly goes out with a bang. Not one scene has anything resembling natural lighting, or anything resembling normal. Instead, Argento takes the viewer on a candy-colored big-top performance that might just induce vertigo during frequent viewings. Blues, reds, and yellows are all slapped into the scenes at random, like a homicidal, supernatural kaleidoscope. It’s one of a kind, and it has to be seen to be believed.

Speaking of one of a kind, the music (THE MUSIC!!!) is completely insane! Composed by Italian prog-rock group Goblin and Argento himself, the frenetic score sounds like a mix between the A Nightmare On Elm Street and Relayer by Yes. It, too, sounds like it came from another world, one where music is cranked out from robot nightmares and where timing is pruposefully disjointed in order to produce terror. I don’t know what kinds of conditions these lads were working under, but one can be absolutely sure that they weren’t bored when they were composing it.

In Grand Guignol tradition, terror is induced not only by timing in Suspiria, but by gruesome horror-shows and torture. Some people are merely stabbed, mercifully, while at other times we are asked to watch a woman squirm for multiple minutes in rolls of barbed wire. It’s always unclear how somebody is going to die, and while that is true of nearly every horror movie, it is ESPECIALLY true here, as the line between the real world and the spirit world is blurred and broken.

I had a scary good time here. Watch this with your easily spooked significant other and have a good evening together, or just watch it with your FILM SNOB buddy so he/she can point out paltry details about the cinematography and set design. Just watch it; you’ll be glad you did. It’s not just an important movie, it’s also a fun movie. I give Suspiria 9 homicidal kaleidoscopes out of 10! A high recommendation!

Thanks for all the suggestions, Kevan! Now I have to get to work on Goregirl’s for the next few weeks! Until I get to work on those, I have a surprise for all of you tomorrow! Come back then to see what it is!!!