In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Since this month’s Final Girl Film Club selection is Dario Argento’s 1977 film Suspiria, I will gladly throw in my two cents. Suspiria is the first of The Three Mothers trilogy (1980’s Inferno and last year’s Mother Of Tears being the following two parts) and I think the best entry by a fair margin.

Suzy Bannion (played by Jessica Harper), an American ballet student, arrives at a prestigious dance school in Germany the same night one of the students is brutally murdered. The two crossed paths earlier that stormy night and from the start Suzy thinks that something is not right with the school. As more girls go missing, Suzy decides to do some investigating of her own.

Mention Suspiria to a horror fan and you’ll likely see a glow of recognition creep across their face. It’s one of those movies that simply represent the horror genre on a greater level. It may not be as pervasive as Halloween, The Shining or The Exorcist - probably because Suspiria came from across the pond - but it is as highly regarded by many horrorphiles.

Suspiria is not just a film. It’s an experience. I remember seeing it as a teen and being immediately struck by the abstract style. Well, that and the flying rubber bats. Suspiria’s strength lies not in its story or narrative, but rather how they are enhanced through its visuals and audio. The bright colours and pounding score by Goblin (one of many collaborations with Argento) are characters in themselves.

Style over substance has always been a trademark of Argento’s work and I don’t know anyone who can pull it off better than he can. His brilliant set pieces, which in someone else’s hands would seem absurd, are elevated above their unlikelihood. I’m sure there aren’t many dance academies that have a roomful of loose razor wire lying around, but the way Argento sets it up, it almost seems plausible.

The next PSA

Now, the stigma that goes with being a classic is that the suits of today inevitably think remake. I have been hearing about this possibility for over five years now and nothing has come to fruition yet. I can only hope that it is because the powers that be have realized that it is a fool’s errand. Suspiria is not only a film, but also a piece of grisly art. Would you repaint the Mona Lisa? Of course not. I apologize for sounding overdramatic, but with companies like Platinum Dunes around, the word “remake” always gets my back up.

Suspiria is a wonderful dark dream that should be experienced with the lights out and the volume cranked high.


Unknown said...

The biggest risk in remaking a movie like this is that it's not really a story to be retold. It's an artistic vision.

It would be like someone 'remaking' a famous painting.

Unknown said...

movie365 - What sets Dario Argento apart from many of his contemporaries is his success with visual imagery. In a style where sudden visual shocks are used to thrill the audience, Argento creates elaborate deaths which cannot be quickly forgotten. The highly involved double-murder towards the beginning of the film still remains one of the most memorable scenes in horror history, standing next to the Psycho "shower scene" in pure sensory input. And in a technique so powefully employed here and here alone, Argento sets scene after scene aglow with color, using it to express the mood in ways only the subconscious can fully appreciate. All around, this is an excellent addition to the genre of horror cinema, one of the most expressive films to ever plunge a knife into the psyche of its viewers.
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