Sunday, October 9, 2011


By s. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , , ,
(98 min, 1977)
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento , Daria Nicolodi
Stars: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini and Flavio Bucci

Haunted Wonderland

A young American dancer, Suzy, travels to Europe to join a famous ballet school. As she arrives, the camera turns to another young woman, who appears to be fleeing from the school. She returns to her apartment where she is gruesomely murdered. Meanwhile, the young American is trying to settle in at the ballet school, but hears strange noises and is troubled by bizarre occurrences.

“Suspiria” made by famous director Dario Argento in 1977 is one of the most remarkable horror movies. Its visual side with vibrant colors is so fascinating you can't take your eyes off the screen. The music by Goblin is eerie and builds up the suspense to extreme levels, sounding a lot like a creepy lullaby which would put you to eternal sleep. The insane visuals, with different shades of red, blue and yellow glowing from the screen and unique soundtrack are perfect for the story, filled with mysterious foot steps, whispers, screams and desperate cries for help. All you have to do to be scared during this film is to turn it on, turn off the light and make sure the speakers are working.

The setting of ballet school is genius – innocent ballerinas, wearing white are mercilessly killed by mysterious stranger. The scariest part of the movie is its atmosphere and because of omnipresent evil even outside the doors of the ballet school the characters can't feel safe. It's not important why the things we see happen are taking place, as the characters in the film we have to accept they do and focus on observing the events carefully. The film has amazing sequences of murders which are bloody, but in a fashion that's quite far from reality. It's more of, to use modern example, “Kill Bill” kind of violence, but the build up to it is truly chilling. The most notable example and the scariest scene of the movie is the scene which later inspired one of the killings in “Saw” series and I'm sure when you see “Suspiria”, you'll know what scene is on my mind. Because of the long run time and the theme playing in the background the intensity of it is almost unbearable. The violence and the creativity in which victims' lives are ended is also frightening.

About the heroine - Suzy is a typical horror movie character, the movie doesn't need strong story or character development because it plays more like a fascinating nightmare, with all the inexplicable visuals and sounds, where the knowledge is not important but experiencing is. As it usually happens in scary movies, the girl is curious, she wants to figure out the riddle, she is bright and brave. Secondary characters have even smaller amount of traits, but it's still upsetting to see what happens to them.

The movie is very strange and it's amplified by the fact it was made 43 years ago. Most of the dialogues are bizarre, some of the shots are disturbing and the manner in which the film is shot is both interesting and unsettling. But regarding the dialogues I found some fascinating trivia that says Dario Argento's original idea was the ballet school would accommodate young girls not older than 12 but the studio denied the request because a film this violent involving children would be banned. So he raised the age limit of the girls but didn't rewrite the script, hence the naivety of the characters and occasionally childlike dialogue. Another interesting fact is that he put all the doorknobs at the same height as the actress' heads, so they will have to raise their arms in order to open the doors, just like children.

“Suspiria” is somewhat a variation on haunted house movie, with the isolation of the characters and the fact the escape is always impossible. The only way to survive is to defeat the source of evil, in fight for life and death. The conclusion to the story is a popular ending to the horror movie, which is naive and implausible – on the other hand the script is not supposed to show rational actions and people. “Suspiria” is not the kind of film you watch for its ending – everything leading up to it is so immensely satisfying that after movie is over you will feel like you just visited haunted and scary version of Wonderland with danger hiding everywhere, waiting to attack you.

I finally saw this movie because of my fascination with “Black Swan”, upcoming movie which will also be a dark story set in a ballet school. But as “Black Swan” focuses more on the internal peril of one's mind, “Suspiria” presents the outside evil, people who wish to harm the heroine and her struggle to survive. Whilst researching the topic I found the information that there were plans to remake “Suspiria”. I can't imagine how it could ever be achieved, given how bizarre and unique the movie is. Some of the shots couldn't possibly be repeated with the glory of the original.
I recommend this movie as a must-see for every horror movie fan and people who love movies with beautiful visual side.


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