Review: Suspiria

Suspiria is a big, bloody rainbow of a horror film. It doesn’t make much sense at all, but it is loads of fun.

The film, which was released in 1977, concerns a young ballet dancer, Suzy Banyon (played by Jessica Harper), who travels to a prestigious school of dance in Germany. Things begin to go awry from the moment she leaves the airport. From the start, Italian horror maestro, Dario Argento, plunges us in an ominous atmosphere – a torrential downpour, the headlights of a taxicab filtering through the trees of a dark forest, an almost excruciatingly eerie score, and an American girl in a foreign land.

On the night that Suzy arrives at the academy, one of the former students is brutally murdered – and that’s putting it mildly. It’s one of the most disgusting, unrelentingly brutal murder scenes ever filmed, in my opinion.

To make things worse, Suzy falls ill on the first day of class, after she encounters a strange woman in the hallway, who casts some sort of spell on her. The doctor puts her on a diet, and insists that she stay in bed. Suzy begins to suspect that things are not at all what they seem, and further investigation reveals that witchcraft may be involved.

It all leads to an intense finale, though we’re never quite sure how we got there in the first place. Simply put, the film doesn’t make much sense, even after you reflect on the events afterward. It is actually kind of silly. However, plot isn’t really the strong-point of the film. This is an atmospheric piece. There is a definite emphasis placed on mood. The colors are rich and bright. The blood is red – really, really red.

The most important aspect of the film is that it is loads of fun. Director Dario Argento is clearly having the time of his life here. If you can get past the horrible Italian dubbing, the banal dialogue, and the problematic performances, it is guaranteed that you will have a great time. Turn down the lights, cut up the volume, and enjoy the show.

Blue Underground’s two-disc DVD of Suspiria includes the digitally remastered, uncut version of the film with a lossless DTS surround audio track. Special features include TV and radio promotional spots, trailers, and an in-depth documentary of the making of the film. One wonders how this film would look with a 1080p transfer. Personally, I’m looking forward to the Blu-ray release. For now, this lovely two-disc package will have to suffice.

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