in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 17

Suspiria (1977)

Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Jessica Harper, Udo Kier, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli

Suspiria: Beautiful, atmospheric, awful… “Wait Suspiria? Perhaps the most notable Italian horror movie ever made and you’re telling me it’s bad? Whatchu talkin’ bout Willis?” That would probably be the reaction from most horror movie purists. Suspiria has draw dropping cinematography, an intensely chilling score, but have you ever actually tried to follow this thing? It makes absolutely no sense, it’s a terrible story and yet it’s still an influential work. Considered the crowning achievement of Horror Legend Dario Argento, let me tell you why this film despite it’s incoherent plot is a cult classic.

In the most basic explanation Suspiria is about a young American ballet dancer named Susy Banyon who’s come to Germany to study dance at a renowned academy. Though as soon as she arrives students are murdered and something seems a bit off about the faculty. Sounds like an accessible slasher setup but this film is always taking a back seat to it’s visuals, so much that the plot suffers. So the big surprise is the faculty is like a coven of witches but their motivations are never clear. The story is littered with plot holes and unexplained occurrences, almost as if it was written around certain violent set pieces rather than an actual narrative. So why should anyone care about Suspiria? Because this film looks like no other.

One of the last films to use the Technicolor Three-Strip process Suspiria vividly captures a vast color spectrum and combined with creative camerawork creates a breathtaking nightmare. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these visuals inspired many horror filmmakers and that’s what has kept it’s legacy alive. Though you can’t overlook the satanic synth soundtrack from prog rock group Goblin. Most famous for their score to Dawn of the Dead, this is another one of their best works (needed to throw that in somewhere.)

So is it a good movie? In my opinion no, but it is an important one that is worth recognizing, just don’t try to make any sense of it. Word on the street is that filmmaker David Gordon Green has been aching to do a remake for awhile now, I wonder if he could make it coherent?