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From the moment she arrives in Freiberg, Germany, to attend the prestigious Tans Academy, American ballet-dancer Suzy Bannion senses that something horribly evil lurks within the walls of the age-old institution.
This film pretty much set the standard for all post-Bava horror films, also establishing Dario Argento as one of the great horror minds in the history of film. The pacing of the film, combined with the chilling score and the phenomenal make-up effects, creates an atmosphere of intense uncertainty. Throw into the mix the frightening plot concerning the coven of witches and you have horror gold. I remember seeing this film for the first time and covering my eyes for a majority of the film. Sure, I was a kid, but I still have a hard time watching that end sequence without shivers running up and down my spine.
Jessica Harper stars as Suzy Bannion, an American hopeful who comes to study at a prestigious French ballet academy. On the night she arrives, strange things have already begun to transpire, consisting of a young girl leaving the academy and turning up dead shortly thereafter. Slowly, Suzy settles into her new life at the academy, paying close attention to the less than normal faculty and the strange sounds heard about the academy during the night. Piecing together the puzzle proves more difficult as the faculty start to realize what Suzy is doing, leading to an ultimate showoff between the young American dancer and an unspeakable evil that has been resting and waiting for the perfect time to strike.
When first released, "Suspiria" was credited with having the most terrifying scene ever captured on film, and one of the most authentic death scenes ever filmed. That still holds up today. It's hard to watch that scene without thinking of how accurate it appears. And the whole build up to that scene, with the eyes at the window -- it is pure Italian horror and helps make "Suspiria" the masterpiece it remains. It is also nice to notice that touches only Italian masters can provide -- the misplaced technicolor lighting that adds so much to the film -- the distance shots where we see all the action, but from a great distance away. These nuances are what make the film, and the genre, so memorable and so mimicked.
In a time when the horror genre relies on Japanese remakes and creepy little kids for success, it is nice to take a look back at a time when horror was a blood and guts reaction. All we needed was some mood music, some blues and greens, and a blood curdling screen and we were standing up in our seats. There is a reason why "Suspiria" is oftentimes placed in the list of the Top Ten Horror Films of All-Time -- it is almost impossible to watch the film without breaking a knuckle or two. "Suspiria" is a true gem that needs to be rediscovered for this new generation of horror fan obsessed with zombies and rings. 10/10.
- added 07/13/2005, 06:56 AM
the only part of this movie i found entertaining
was the music. It was a little creepy keyboard
line and if you listen closely you can hear a
guttural demonic voice going "la la la la" in tune
- added 09/12/2005, 02:45 PM
This was one fooked up movie... I sorta
understood it. It wasn't crap, it had a certain
allure to it. It had a few "jump-out-and-say-BOO!"
scares, but that was about it... I give it a 3/5.
- added 04/08/2007, 07:28 PM
There is something really wrong with you people.
6/10? This was a horror masterpiece, and one of
the last horror movies that was truly scary. 9/10
- added 05/24/2007, 07:50 PM
Yah-know... recentlly I got to watch this one
again and... well... it's much much better this
time around... It really is amazing... but as far
a sensibility goes... well... I certainly enjoyed
Argento's original script to his finished
product... but the music and lighting was
- added 06/04/2008, 04:31 PM
Much better the 2nd time through. The first time
I took this as a horror movie and I hated it. Then
someone said take it as a fairy tale for adults,
and I was able to except it. I personally think
this movie would have been better without the
death scenes. I don't know why, but for me it just
makes the movie feel dirty. The barb wire scene
could have been completely left out as I thought
it was a joke. The infamous first death was fine,
but had a weird cut early on that seemed out of
place, and the other woman banging on the door
yelling "Murder" was pretty lame, and
the random arm coming out of nowhere had me
laughing. Although still a good scene. The death
involving the dog was the only one that didn't
seem cheesy to me. The mood was perfect,
everything seemed tight. My last complaint is the
ending, when Suzy finally leaves the building, she
has a stupid smirk on her face. I'd be happy to
leave too, but it just seemed dumb. Then she just
casually walks away. I found it rather weird,
almost seemed like there was something bound to
pop out of nowhere. Anyways, I enjoyed the movie.
8/10 for me.
Oh, and I was getting
sick and tired of the constant neon lights in the
background. I know he was trying to go for an
artistic look, but it also seemed like he was
trying too hard, and any director can throw in a
light in their scenes to make it look
- added 06/04/2008, 05:52 PM
Just to re-iterate -- Argento's best work to
date. Masterpiece. Brilliant. Stunning.
- added 04/27/2009, 12:08 AM
I just watched this
yesterday. It's the second movie of Argento's I've
seen, after "sleepless"
sure what to think. I did not dislike this movie,
but can't help feel I was a little cheated. After
hearing so much about this film and how highly it
is rated I felt a little let down, especially by
the ending, but I'm goning to say too much as I
don't want to spoil it for anybody. But come on
people, terrifiying is hardly a word I would use
to describe the last 12 minutes of this movie.
Don't write this one off, it is worth
seeing (mainly for Aregnto's insane use of color
and his camera techniques). But like it's been
said many times before, don't believe the hype.