Suspiria (1977)

Image sourced from mademoisellerobot.com
Image sourced from mademoisellerobot.com

This is one film that we at The Horror Hothouse Review have always admired and enjoyed, but it was never amongst the top tier of our favourite and most-watched horrors. When Luke introduced me to the film at the tender age of 16 or so, I absolutely loved it. Subsequently, over the years I have shown it to pretty much all of my friends. Yet somehow it was only this year that this movie that was previously watched very rarely became permanently on the top of our ‘To Watch’ pile whenever we were having a movie night. We were settled on the sofa, in the dark, popcorn and sweeties scattered out on the glass coffee table in front of us and Suspiria was blaring loudly from the TV set, lighting up the room in glorious technicolour. That’s where it happened, the spark. The next night we watched it again and then we watched it again shortly after.

Image sourced from tommygirard.wordpress.com
Image sourced from tommygirard.wordpress.com

This gem of a film from Italian director Dario Argento is set in Germany. The story focuses on a young American dancer called Suzy (Jessica Harper) who arrives at a grand ballet academy in the middle of a dark, rainy night. Unable to get into the school Suzy comes to the realisation that she will have to spend the night in a hotel and return in the morning; during which time one of the school’s existing students is killed in a chillingly violent attack by an unknown assailant. In the morning Suzy returns and it isn’t long before she starts to figure out that something sinister is afoot at the school.

Image sourced from stylenoir.co.uk
Image sourced from stylenoir.co.uk

Argento really did hit the goldmine of creativity when filming Suspiria. Firstly, he’s managed to create a truly great film about witches, something that is no easy feat, and, secondly, he’s managed to make it into a piece of real art. His direction goes far beyond inventive camera angles and a great score. The use of shocking reds, blues and greens to light scenes is ingenious and truly unique. It takes it from just a film to a visual masterpiece. The camera angles also highlight Argento’s creative eye, particular favourite shots of mine include the perspective through the light bulb and the framing of the student by the hatch/window in the wall. Superb.

Image sourced from thelostclassics.com
Image sourced from thelostclassics.com

Similarly to one of my other favourite directors John Carpenter, Argento has a fantastic ability to build atmosphere, most significantly mystery and suspense. This talent he really puts into play in Suspiria and at no point during the movie do you feel yourself growing weary of the plot. Sometimes his ability to create intrigue can push the viewer a little too far, however. I’ve often found myself second guessing a little too much in the film, which has sometimes brought to the forefront a few flaws in the plot, making it at times hard to be truly believable.

Image sourced from film.thedigitalfix.com
Image sourced from film.thedigitalfix.com

It’s no wonder than Suspiria is often referred to as one of the greatest horror films of all time and I urge anyone who hasn’t yet seen it to go out and buy the DVD as soon as they possibly can. This truly is Argento’s magnum opus and has continued to be a real treat for audiences since its release in the late 70s.

Suspiria poster sourced from stuffpoint.com
Suspiria poster sourced from stuffpoint.com

Score: 666/666

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Cootie says:

    Oh man, I love this movie SO MUCH. My husband (long time Argento devotee) introduced me to it about 4 years ago & I’ve watched it many times since. It has become one of my “comfort movies”. You know, the ones you reach for when you’re feeling down or sick because you love it so much? Yeah, that.

    1. Emma Knock says:

      Thanks for your comment, Cootie. I absolutely know what you mean. I have a few of those too 🙂 Since wrtiting this review yesterday I am super keen to watch it again. It’s recently become a full on obsession I can’t shake, haha.

  2. Light and entertaining is the way to go for me, I love the blog and your point of view on Suspiria. Couldn’t have said it better myself. You really nailed all key points about movie and Argento’s amazing artistic eye. I also agree with your John Carpenter reference. It’s always fantastic to find other horror movie fans that have excellent taste and appreciation for the art. I also love to get together with friends and make a night of treats and terror. It’s all great fun.

    I think the only thing I like more then the film itself, is the amazing soundtrack. The music alone scares me. The colors, the camera angles, the point of view, and the cinematography in itself, has earned its place with the best of the classic genre. No one does it like Argento. He is a true Master.

    I hear there is going to be a remake. I am not big on classic horror movie remakes, but try to keep an open mind to ones that are done extremely respectful. That being said, I can’t imagine anyone else’s vision that could top or even compare to the original.

    Again great Blog and I have already added this to my RSS reader. Great job Emma. Hats off to you.

    Two years in a row my Podcast Fan-Friends requested me to do a Halloween Video Special of my very favorites. This year I included Suspiria to the party. The interns at the taping of the Special had their own big monitor to enjoy the fun and festivities that we always have on the podcast. Here is the Highlight of us watching and enjoying the Master at his finest:)

    Peace Love EMPATHY – “D”

    http://bit.ly/YbSQdE

    1. Emma Knock says:

      Haha, I loved your video! Very entertaining and a fantastic costume.

      Thank you so much for your comment – I’m glad you’re a fan of the blog and my thoughts on Suspiria. I had such a wonderful time writing the review (Suspiria is just an itch I can’t scratch these days) and it’s always nice to get a perspective from another film fan, as you say.

      The score is truly amazing – a big round of applause for Demon. It the perfect embodiment for all the different thoughts and emotions you’re taken through during the film. I find it so incredible that it was written before the film was shot. It’s suited so perfectly, I would have thought they were developed simultaneously. I now listening to the title track at work! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBhF__cBH8E

      I get really annoyed at news of the classic remakes (Halloween particularly grated), I must confess. I do try to keep an open mind, but it’s difficult when people start remaking things when there’s absolutely no need. I do understand why you’d want to remake a classic, especially cult classics!? Akin to news of a Rocky Horror Picture Show remake, news of the Suspiria remake just seems madness to me. As you say, I don’t know how anyone could come close to Argento! I was intrigued by the rumours of Natalie Portman playing the lead that developed a few years ago, however, though they’ve since been dashed.

      Thanks once again,
      Em x

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