Suspiria (1977)

It’s nearly Halloween so I thought I’d take a mind trip through some classic 70s Italian Horror.  I’ve seen another Dario Argento film, Profondo Rosso/Deep Red, which had David Hemmings (Barbarella, Blow Up) in it.

Suspiria came highly recommended.  A friend from grad school recommended it to me a few years ago and I have just now gotten around to watching it.  What can I say: I’m slow.

Was it worth the wait?  Well, let’s see….

I’ve never quite experienced a film like Suspiria.  I say this because the sound track, by the group Goblin, is so pronounced that it invades your mind and heightens your senses because you are so annoyed by the grating cacophony of sound that it’s hard to not be tense while you’re watching the film.  In this way, the film was very interactive–your brain could not escape the sound unless you completely turned it off.

As far as the story itself goes, it was an interesting concept:  a ballet school with a coven of witches at its center.  But I wasn’t frightened out of my seat by the turn of events or the plotline.  The viewer never really knows why young Suzy Bannion is drugged with wine (and is left all alone in the last few scenes while all the other girls are in town)–the only explanation here is to contrive a situation where Suzy explores the school and finds the secret den of witches.  A little too forced, and not overly organic in terms of letting things fall into place in a more believable fashion.

You also never really know why the other girls were so suspicious of what was going on (therefore leading to their deaths).  You want to think that maybe they recruit new girls to the ballet school so that they can somehow either turn them into witches or sacrifice them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  The two girls who die are killed because they know the secret of the witches (or they know there’s something sinister going on), not because they’re being sacrificed or something.

And the male ballet dancers, one in particular–Daniel–seems to be incahoots with the witches, but that is never resolved. 

I can’t say much about the film other than it is dark and typically Italian in terms of Horror.  The plot doesn’t win any awards for creativity in my book–but I’d say that goes for most Italian Horror that I’ve seen.  But the music adds a particularly interesting element to the film.  And the creepyness factor of witches running a school with an ancient ghostly-Greek witch living in the basement is, in itself, inherently unnerving.

One must always be patient with Italian films.  Perhaps upon a second viewing, I will appreciate it more for Argento’s artistry.

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