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Suspiria (1977)
 
 
 Directed by: Dario Argento
 Starring: Jessica Harper/Suzy
Stephani Casini/Sara
Joan Bennet/Madame Blanc
Udo Kier/Dr. Mandel
 
RATING

PLOT-CRUNCH:


A cute American student (Harper) gets more than ballet slippers and a tap on the ass when she attends a reputed European ballet school to perfect her skills. To her dismay, folks around her start dropping like flies on grey velvet and she eventually uncovers a spooky coven of witches. Let the ride begin!!! {sings Suspiria Goblins song} La- La- La- La- La- La- La-….La- La- La- La- la- la- La…..
  

THE LOWDOWN:


"Suzy, do you know anything about witches?"-- Sara

Aaaaahhh "Suspiria"...easily one of my favorite fixes of all time. Written by Dario Argento and long-time lover Daria Nicolodi (mother of Asia Argento), "Suspiria" is a grim fairy tale that also acts as a beautiful psychedelic painting in motion, coated with an assortment of sounds, wild shots, vibrant colors, chilling shadows and gorgeous blotches of red. This MDMA piece of celluloid was a relative turn for genre maestro Dario Argento in terms of the type of pictures he put out. Where at first he mostly dipped his hand in the suspense/giallo puddle of blood, here he upped the ante by also addressing the supernatural world, one that takes place in a vastly feminine environment, no less. Our big boy came out a BIG winner with this one, giving birth to his most famous oeuvre to date.

There’s no doubt that Suspiria’s narrative is not the main reason to hit it; its beyond ambitious visual execution is. The sets, and even the props, are exquisite in their oddness giving the film a LSD art deco kind of feel that always leaves me spellbound. Then there are the inventive, hallucinogenic plays with colors and lighting (yellow, blue, red and green) which gave the piece an infectiously surreal look (LOVED the opening cab scene…DAMN!). Tag all that to Argento’s slick display of ambitious shots, creative scene transitions, fluid camera movements and his injections of dream-like yet morbid mood and you get one hell of an arresting movie. And that’s not all compadres! "Suspiria" also slit my throat with its crawl under your skin and at times nerve-wracking soundtrack. The powerful music (by Goblin) is a lead character on its own, often acting as the witches’ presence. Coupled with the polished images at hand, both audio and visual join forces to put out an experience to be reckoned with.

Another aspect that whooped my bootie to horror heaven were the vicious and gory kills (see the uncut version…trust me). Argento stages his murders with sadistic creativeness and unrepentant harshness and I relished them with child-like glee. The man has no pity for his victims (I respect that), that’s for sure, especially when they’re female (a man’s got to relax). The opening scene in particular is quite elaborate and beyond brutal; now THAT’S a way to go! I took notes! But the one kill that always gets me hardcore is the barbed wire scene. It always has me grabbing my balls in pain. Yes, I felt that girl’s pain in my “stoogates!” Don’t ask; I’m special that way. I also appreciated the artistic flavor that Argento injected into his human slaughter via a use of bright red blood that looked more like finger paint than plasma. It worked for me and matched with the Andy Warhol on-more-acid-than-usual feel of the film.

Over the years, I’ve been hearing critics and Argento fans complain about "Suspiria" not having a script, and being all style and no substance. Granted, the script is at times flawed; I did have to suspend disbelief on one occasion (the footstep counting thang) and some of the dialogue was either cheesy or obvious in its exposition. But having said that, I still find that statement to be too severe. Yes, the style is in the forefront, but there is a story here with plot turns, some mystery (Argento uses one of his token tricks in this respect), a strong female lead and scary villains (loved how the witches were presented). What do people want? An extensive study of what a knife does to flesh when it stabs deep in terms of possible infection? COME ON! There’s a story here...I don’t know what the fuck people are talking about.

"Suspiria" is a haunting, yet mesmerizing, film that I will always cherish and hold dear to my deader than Cobain heart. Yes, it does sport minor flaws; the script has a few nicks to it (as mentioned above) and some of the editing cuts did seem abrupt, but the good found in this fountain of horror and colors more than overwhelmed those slight paper cuts. Magic is everywhere…”Hey Spence, let’s trip out!”
    

ACTING:


Jessica Harper (Suzy) was solid as the lead displaying a mix of strength and vulnerability that made her very endearing. Her big expressive eyes also helped. Stephani Casini (Sara) did fine as the lovable “friend”; there’s something about her that was sexy. Joan Bennet’s (Madame Blanc) classy and somewhat cold presence gave the part the right type of feel. A young Udo Kier (Dr. Mandel) did ok with his small “exposition heavy” scene. Great hair! Alida Valli (Miss Tanner) was just plain freaking scary in that butch-from-hell type of way. That smile…brrr.
 

GORE:


The uncut version is the ONLY version to see. We get multitude of stabbings, a stab in an opened heart, an impaling, glass in the face, flesh ripping, barbed wire fun, a slit throat, a stab in the neck and lots of bright red blood.
   

T & A:


We get lots women in tights and there’s one scene that has two chicks braless, wearing t-shirts in a pool...you make your own conclusions as to how that comes out. The ladies get…men in tights…lucky you.
   

DIRECTING:


Argento goes on a rampage with his visuals here, if it wasn’t the use of colors knocking me off my seat, it was his use of slow motion, his awesome traveling shots, his extreme close-ups, his stylish zoom ins or the incredible atmosphere that he managed to syringe into this film’s veins in high dosages. There are so many memorable tableaux here: the airport scene, the "running in the woods while it's raining" scene, the hallway “magic spell scene” scene, the “red lighted curtain” bit…god so many…just watch the freaking movie.
   

SOUNDTRACK:


Goblin put out their best score to date here, using odd instruments, aggressive drums and creepy “gibberish” whispers to assault us. ARROW NOTE: It’s also a great CD to put on while you're scoring with a stress relieving one night stand; try it, you’ll thank me in the morning when the skank FINALLY leaves your place scared out of her wits. La- La- La- La- La- La- La-….La- La- La- La- la- la- La…..YEAH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
   

BOTTOM LINE:


"Suspiria" was ahead of its time in its cosmetic ambitions and fantastic audio tendencies. Argento crafted an immortal and brilliant horror masterpiece with this film, one that should not be touched, should not be remade or altered but one that should be admired and respected because yes, it still holds up like a cauldron of severed head stew today. Personally, "Suspiria" is more than just a film for me; it’s the “Michael Angelo” of horror movies. I always go back to it when I’m hungry for an “eyes glued to the screen” experience or when in dire need of inspiration. From the bottom of my grave I say; thank you Mr. Argento for this priceless piece of genre art.
 

BULL'S EYE:


Daria Nicolodi came up with the idea for "Suspiria" based on a true story her grandmother told her.

Originally, Dario wanted Suspiria to star kids but the idea didn’t fly, that’s why the actors somewhat act like kids at times and why the door handles are so high…to make them look like kids.

Dimension Films can shove their planned "Suspiria" remake deep up their "Halloween: Resurrection" bung hole.

Argento had the music recorded before the shoot and would play it on set to freak out the actors while shooting. He did the same thing on "Inferno".

Argento saw Jessica Harper in Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise which prompted him to cast her for Suspiria.

Argento found the actor who played Pavlo, the Romanian, working in an Italian Post Office.

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The Way The Arrow Points...

   
 I’d BUTCHER my family to see this again
 HANG me but I dug it a lot
 An ok way to KILL two hours
 Just sling an ARROW in my head and let me die in peace

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