I often get asked from readers as well as friends what my favorite horror film is, The answer for me is a no-brainer;Dario Argento’s “Suspiria”, it’s not only my favorite horror film, but one of favorite films of all time.One of the last films shot in technicolor, and the first supernatural horror film shot by Argento, after 4 Giallo pictures.The film is a visual and atmospheric masterpiece.A dark fairy tale for all time.
The first aspect of this film that a lot of people find intriguing is Argento’s bright and colorful cinematography.a lot of reds and blues to illuminate each room and a lot of the scenes, the infamous “Stained Glass” hanging scene in the first 20 minutes of the film is a good example of this, as is the barbed wire scene in the conclusion of the second act.Dario himself was behind the camera for almost every shot, and insisted on tying the noose himself.
As far as the casting for the film, The choices could not have been more perfect.Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion was the only person I could see doing the role.SInce Suspiria is very much a stylized fairy tale very similar “Snow White”, it makes sense to have someone plain looking who can capture that youthful naivety.The other role cast perfectly is Joan Bennet as the schools head instructor Madame Blanc.Bennet had begun her acting career in 1916, and had been a major star during the 1930’s and 40’s, with such films as “The Macomber Affair” with Gregory peck.Her presence on screen adds something wonderful that you wouldn’t expect in a horror film, a light touch of class and sophistication.Sadly, this would be Bennet’s final role as she passed away in 1990 after retiring from film in 1982.
The score for the film was once again performed by Goblin, and without a doubt, this is their finest work.The score was actually composed before filming began, and in an effort to “Psyche Out” his actors prior to filming, Argento would play the recorded music at high volumes before each scene was filmed.Whether he was being masochistic or wanted to prepare his actors for their roles is anybody’s guess.Needless to say, In a film where each scene and the plot pulsate like the heavy breathing of Mater Suspiriorum herself, Every composition is fitting and appropriate.
The plot of the film itself is paced with almost impeccable and precision timing.Nothing is given away, and you’re always filled with a scene of wonder and awe.Even the death scenes are remarkably well done, their not “Gory” like you’d see in a film by Lucio Fulci, but they capture one of the essences long lost on todays modern horror films, The ability to shock and surprise the viewer.Throughout the film you can’t, keep your eyes off of the screen, From the very start your drawn into the rich colors and brooding atmosphere.Right up until the very end.
In conclusion, So many times have I sat down to watch some new horror film that someone has recommended to me.More often than not I walk away disappointed and left feeling empty inside.Considering this is approaching it’s 40th anniversary in a few short years. It’s absolutely incredible that for something filmed in 1977 it triumphs over most cookie-cutter horror films released within the last decade.