Suspiria (1977)

So Dario Argento finds his way onto the 101 Horror Movies list again with what is called his masterpiece, Suspiria.

The story is fairly simple and the murders are just as bloody as they were in Profondo Rosso.

A young American, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives at the Freiburg academy, which specializes in dance. However a rather odd occurrence on her arrival, a fellow student fleeing the school only to end up murdered that same evening.

Getting settled into the school Suzy is put off by the school’s director Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) and a rather strict teacher named Miss Tanner (Alida Valli) and a number of strange occurrences that seem to be happening.

Argento uses a lot of lush red in the design and color of the school, framing his images rather ominously as the camera circles from above, or pushes in after its subject as they are being stalked.

Adding to the oppressive feeling of the film is a thundering soundtrack by Goblin, with the recurring word “Witch!” chanted over and over again.

And that is exactly what poor Suzy finds.

A coven of witches, this one ruled by Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs.

Apparently, she is one of three ancient witches. The three of them compose a trilogy of film by Argento with Suspiria being the first, Inferno features the Mother of Darkness, and the third is the Mother of Tears, which is also the name of the third film (I’ve yet to see these two – any input anyone has on them would be appreciated).

These aren’t earth and nature loving witches, but in fact dark, scheming, murderesses who are seeking power and control.

The story isn’t always cohesive, but Argento lets the camera tell the story visually, and coupled with its use of sound, and music, it makes for a rather stylish nightmare.

Some however, may be put off by the gory murders, and they are wonderfully done – the sequence featuring the death of Suzy’s friend Sara (Stefania Casini) had me cringing as she plunges into what looked to me, like some razor-wire fencing.

Ugh.

Of the two of them so far, I honestly prefer Profondo Rosso, but may look into finishing out the trilogy at some point.

What did you think of it?

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