Italian Horror Cinema month rocks on with 'SUSPIRIA'

by Joey Paur

Here is an all time Classic Italian Horror film. I would think that most film geeks have seen this movie. Sadly, I am sure there are those out there, including film geeks that have not seen it, and maybe not even heard of it before! The reason I say this is because I know people who say they are hardcore film geeks but have not seen this movie yet. This is one of the reasons I started this website. To get the word out to people and help spread the word of good movies. Suspiria should be in your top five movies to watch during the Halloween season. It has that perfect creepy vibe. Suspiria is a must watch horror film for anyone that loves movies. The film was directed by Dario Argento in 1977, and this is the best film he has made. I am not sure what happened. Every other film he has made falls below the standard he set with Suspiria. 'Inferno' was his closest to matching it. 

The style of this film is brilliant, you don't see this kind of creative filmmaking anymore. You have seen people mimic the ideas but it's not original. I love the way Argento tells this story. It's not necessarily through the dialogue as much as it is with what he does with the camera work, lighting, sound, music, and color. He had a lot of fun making this movie and he experimented with many surreal visuals and sound, which make this movie so unique and fun.

Suspiria is a genuinely scary and disturbing psychological horror thriller. I enjoy it every time I watch it. The story just pulls you in. The movie starts out strong and violent, and as the story is told, the tone of the film gets darker and darker. Then it just gets crazy when it reaches the climax. I thought the ending of this film was great. The tag line for the movie was:

The Only Thing More Terrifying Than The Last 12 Minutes Of This Film Are The First 92.

This Plot Summary contains Spoilers!

The story involves a young American ballet student, Suzy Banyon, who arrives in Germany to attend a prestigious dance academy. When she arrives at the school, she witnesses a student, a young girl named Pat, flee the building in a panic. Unable to gain access to the school, Suzy finds a place to stay in town for the night.

Pat, who fled to a friend's apartment, is horribly murdered by being pulled out of a window onto the roof, stabbed several times, and then hanged by a cord when she falls through the sky light (which results in her friend's death as her friend is pierced by a large sheet of stained glass in the head).

Suzy goes to the school the next day and is greeted by Ms. Tanner, an instructor, and Madame Blanc, the vice directress. In the changing room, Suzy meets two other students, Olga and Sara. It's been arranged for Suzy to live with Olga in her apartment. This is when strange things start to happen to Suzy.

Suzy becomes dizzy after a maid reflects a piece of silver at her and she passes out due to hemorrhaging during class. Suzy is moved into the dorms without her consent. from this point on she is constantly tired and can barely stay awake.

There is a nasty scene where hundreds of maggots start to fall from the ceiling. That night they all sleep in the practice hall. When the girls are asleep, a shadowy figure lays down on the other side of the sheet behind Suzy and Sara. The person has a very distinct, raspy, whistling snore and it scares the hell out of Sara.

Things just continue to get more and more insane from here!

Her friend Sara tries to get Suzy to help her figure out what it really going on, but Suzy cannot stay awake. Sara begins to hear footsteps and flees Suzy's room just before an unseen person enters. Sara escapes to the attic, where she is attacked but hides in a room and latches the door shut. However, her killer tries to use its knife to unlatch the door. With nowhere else to go, Sarah cowers away from the door when she notices a small window high up. Stacking several boxes on top of each other, she jumps through the window and into a small room filled with razor wire! This is is just a terrible scene as she tries to fight her way out of razor wire. As she tries to escape the killer comes in the room and slices her throat.

The next morning, Suzy finds Sara's room empty. Ms. Tanner tells Suzy that Sara left early that morning without telling anyone. Suzy meets with a friend of Sarah's, who turns out to be Sara's psychologist. He tells Suzy that Sara became troubled when a friend put the notion of witches in her head. Sara also found out that the school was founded by Helena Markos, a Greek émigré, who people thought was a witch. However, she died in a fire, and the school was passed down to her favorite pupil who turned it from a school for the occult to a dance academy.

The climax of the film begins when Suzy finds out that all the students are gone. She is the only student in the building. From here Suzy begins to investigate what is going happening on her own and finds the school is merely a front for a much more sinister organization.

Here are a few things about the movie that you may not know about that I found interesting.

Dario Argento composed the creepy music with the band Goblin and played it at full blast on set to unnerve the actors and elicit a truly scared performance.

Argento's original idea was the ballet school would accommodate young girls not older than 12. This movie would have been incredibly crazy if they cast 12 year old girls! However the studio and producer who happen to be his dad, denied his request because a film this violent involving children would be surely banned. So he raised the age limit of the girls to 20 but didn't rewrite the script, hence the naivety of the characters and occasionally childlike dialogue. I like that he didn't change the dialogue, it makes the characters different. He also put all the doorknobs at about the same height as the actress' heads, so they will have to raise their arms in order to open the doors, just like children.

The woman playing Helna Markos is not credited. According to Jessica Harper, the woman was a 90 year old ex-hooker Argento found on the streets of Rome.

This movie is getting remade with Natalie Portman as the lead. I suggest you watch the original before the new one comes out. This is one of the greatest horror films of our time.

Check out the trailer for the film Below!