Thursday, August 16, 2012

Suspiria (1977)




This is almost too mainstream for Ninja Dixon. Why? Because Suspiria is one of the most famous horror films EVER made and it's one of the pillars of the Italian genre cinema. First time I saw Suspiria it was actually Nouveaux Pictures old tape, a quite nice-looking VHS in proper ratio, uncut and with a nice packaging. After that I got Anchor Bay's DVD and recently I went back in time and got myself the only good (but far from perfect) blu-ray, from... Nouveaux Pictures. It was in my old apartment in Östersund, a dark night on very loud volume, mostly because the sound mix is a bit odd, on purpose, with the dialogues being almost impossible to hear sometimes and Goblin's amazing score pounding out from the speakers.

The only catch with this first view was that my TV was broken and it was incapable to show the colour red. Yeah, RED! You can imagine the look! But it didn't stop me from getting the dark spell of Helena Markos and I've been blessed by black magic ever since. Did you know that I actually once got some real black magic put on me? Long story, so I won't bore you, but that's what happen and... it didn't work. My life turned out for the better after that actually.

Suspiria is an enigma in every way possible. Daria Nicolodi based it on the experiences of her grandma, who once went to a acting school where the teachers also taught black magic to the pupils, but much of the final is also based on a dream Daria had. The title and concept of the witches is from Thomas De Quincey 's Suspiria de Profundis. Almost every scene is filled with symbols, words, odd architecture and colours inspired, the legend says, by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  

It's a ghastly fairy tale for grown-ups starring young women acting and talking like the children they were suppose to be from the beginning, which makes the story even more eerie, more surreal. I love how Argento's tries to communicates with us through the camera, from his ghostly cameo in the beginning to the end scene where Jessica Harper seems to come out of character before she walks out from the frame. It's a blink to us all, that it's a dream, a fantasy.

Most of Suspiria feels like a classic giallo and using arms and hands of men during the murder scenes makes the idea of red herrings even larger, but it's never a mystery. We all know that something is terribly wrong in the colourful, yet so spooky, ballet school in Freiburg. I think Suzy Bannion is under surveillance already from the beginning. The woman in a red dress that sneaks outside before her in the airport, the taxi driver - who also makes a similar appearance in Inferno, maybe even the cops. They're all goblins, devils, slaves under Helena Markos.

I'm a very forgiving Argento fan, my quest is to see every work of his with open eyes and without that slightly pathetic patronizing way that a lot of his "fans" sees his newer movies. But I think Argento burned out after Suspiria. It was his magnum opus, the movie where he fulfilled every wish he had about constructing the ultimate horror film. He rarely looked back at the same visual excess and I like that. He wanted to change and he's been striving ever since to change, to do something different with the visuals. He's not interested in doing what the fans want him to do (just look what happen to the snoozefest Nonhosonno), he's interesting to do what he wants to do.

And that's the only way he should do it.

"Fear is a 370 degree centigrade body temperature.With Suspiria I wanted 400 degrees"
Dario Argento

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"This is almost too mainstream for Ninja Dixon. Why? Because Suspiria is one of the most famous horror films EVER made and it's one of the pillars of the Italian genre cinema."

And belive or not ninja....I still haven´t seen it yet.


"We all know that something is terribly wrong in the colourful, yet so spooky, ballet school in Freiburg."

Ballet as a backdrop to horror or creating an atmosphere can be efficent.


"But I think Argento burned out after Suspiria. It was his magnum opus, the movie where he fulfilled every wish he had about constructing the ultimate horror film. He rarely looked back at the same visual excess and I like that."

Perhaps you are right, I haven´t seen that many films from him to judge yet.

Good and somewhat cryptic review, ninja, one day I will see it.

Megatron

dfordoom said...

It was one of a handful of movies in which Argento pulled it all together. He was alays good at visual set-pieces but Suspiria and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage have strong plots as well.

I agree that it was downhill for Argento after Suspiria.

Shoot McKay said...

I may a Nouveau Pictures VHS of SUSPIRIA. Its in widescreen and all but the sound is pretty terrible if I can recall. Not so much the music, but for the dialogue you had to pump up the volume on the televiosion to fuckin hear what they were saying.
Still, one of my favourite horror movies of all time. can´t beat the atmosphere or the Goblin score. Creepy as hell.