Friday, June 24, 2011

631. SUSPIRIA (1977)

Running Time: 98 minutes
Directed By: Dario Argento
Written By: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi, from the book Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey
Main Cast: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli, Flavio Bucci


"Suspiria" is departing the streaming portion of Netflix at the end of this month and to prevent me from having to add it to my "At Home" queue, I decided to check it out while I still could. Much like Argento's other film in the "1001..." book, I didn't think to much of this one either.

Suzy Banyon (Harper) has just arrived in Germany, from the United States, for the reason of studying dance at a prestigious dance school. Upon her arrival she hails a cab in the rain and makes her way to the school. When she arrives at the school, her arrival coincides with the exit of another student, Pat, who stands outside the doorway of the school, screaming something that Suzy can't quite make out and then running off into the woods. Later that night Pat is brutally murdered by a hairy armed man. The next day Suzy starts her tenure at the dance school and encounters a bevy of odd characters, including Miss Tanner (Valli) and Madame Blanc (Bennett), two of the school's esteemed instructors. Over the next couple of weeks Suzy makes a few friends, a few enemies and discovers some very odd happenings at the school. The oddest occurrence coming when a rainfall of maggots fall from the ceilings of the school, covering the girls and sending the screaming into the halls. Suzy's best friend at the school becomes Sarah (Casini), who tells Suzy of the odd things that have been happening for a while now and the notes that she and her best friend, the recently deceased Pat, have taken about the weirdness of the place. One night before bed, Suzy and Sarah hear the teachers walking the floors and before Suzy drifts off to sleep, she recalls Sarah saying something about witches.

I think my biggest problems with Argento's films, is that he seems to be going for more shock value than anything. In the first film I saw of his, "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage", there was an ending so unbelievable that it was more stupid than cool. In this one, the best parts are the scenes where the murders occur and everything else is just filler, making us wait for those gruesome scenes where a character may fall into a gigantic pile of barbed wire and get sliced to ribbons. The acting is absolutely atrocious, especially the main character played by Jessica Harper, who is more annoying than anything and you almost secretly hope Argento has cooked up an extra bloody death for her character. The music is actually quite brilliant and provides us a constant excuse to stay on the edge of our seat, because music like that could only mean that danger looms around the corner. In conclusion, long, dull scenes with terrible actors, do not a good movie make.

RATING: 4.5/10 Short, but to the point, so we'll call it a very strong 4.5. This would be really good for a late night horror fest with your girlfriend or wife, but there's nothing fantastic on display here and otherwise take a pass.


June 24, 2011 5:11pm


  1. The Three Sisters was Argento's most compelling concepts. It's kicked into high gear in INFERNO, and he took just about 30 years to make The Third Sister. Whether he should have bothered, I shall leave to the ages.

    Jessica Harper is an acquired taste, and I happen to adore her. She's glorious in Phantom of the Paradise, and I'm one of a small fervent minority who thinks Shock Treatment is a rock-solid film.

    It's interesting how Dario jumps from the magical villain in films like this and the more pedestrian (but no less bloody) murderers in his other films.

  2. I think the soundtrack was about all that kept me going through this one..
    I think I'm greatful that 'the list' showed m what A Dario Argento film is like, but after 2 of them, I don't think I will try a 'non list' one.
    Shame really, there WAS something in this film that had something to say.. but Im afraid the gruesome bits, (that seemed to there only for shock value) dumped it in the slasher genre with all those aweful teen stuff like Texas Chainsaw etc etc.
    I like horror movies, but not the gore ones, so lets just leave this to the people who like them, and I'll go back and enjoy Wicker Man....

  3. I had high hopes for this one, but sadly Argento turned out to be a big disappointment for me. Although, I guess, "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" wasn't too bad. It was definitely better than "Suspiria".


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