Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Silver Scream: "Suspiria" Movie Review

I love old movies (I guess you know that by now) and this one was released to theaters in the US on August 12th of 1977.  The movie was well-received and highly-acclaimed, winning several awards for it's realistically nightmarish atmosphere and eccentrically haunting story line.  The movie has also scored numbers on several popular 'best horror movies/best movies ever' lists from movie critics like Village Voice, World Cinema, Rotten Tomatoes, and Empire.

There was quite a bit of pattern and a lot of the color 'red' on the set, which I think added to the detail and made everything stand out (specifically the terror of Suzy, the main character).  There was some very graphic, gory scenes and some off-the-record creepy gothic-like elements as well:  the creepy cook, the dog who turns evil, witches, secret passages and rooms, maggots falling mysteriously from the ceiling, the mysterious illness of the main character, and much more!

My Summary:

Suzy Bannion is an American Ballet student who has just flown in to Germany to enroll in a prestigious dance school.  However, creepy things begin to happen as soon as she arrives.  First, she's unable to gain entrance to the ballet school at all, and as a storm brews in the background she witnesses Pat Hingle (former student of the school who has been suspended) fleeing the school screaming in terror.

Later, as Pat Hingle seeks protection in the apartment of a friend, she is brutally murdered and disemboweled by invisible hands.  In the meantime, weird things are happening to Suzy.  First she meets the creepy cook, then she faints during ballet practice and is all but put on bed-rest by a doctor who prescribes a glass of wine each day as treatment.  She's moved to a room with fellow dancer, Sarah, and they become quick friends.  And although Suzy is feeling better, she keeps mysteriously falling malady to a drowsiness that keeps her fast asleep.

Strange things continue to happen at the dormitory when the blind piano players dog uncharacteristically bites a fellow employee and he is dismissed from the school.  Later, as they stroll through town, the dog seems to be possessed by an unseen force as it attacks it's beloved owner, viciously ripping his throat out.  Suzy's fear of strange things is only compounded when, that evening as the girls get ready for dinner, maggots begin to fall from the ceiling in the thousands.  Later, the head mistress of the school says this happened because of spoiled food in boxes in the attic.

That night, Sarah confides to Suzy that she and Pat had been friends, but that Pat had begun to say strange things, things that made no sense.  The girls resolve to search Pat's things and try to figure out what she was talking about, but to no avail.  Later that night, Sarah is chased by mysterious footsteps and brutally murdered.  And, come morning, as Suzy does her own investigation down mysterious passages and secret rooms, she finds herself face to face with a coven of witches and a corpse-like leader who are planning her very death!

She manages to outwit the coven, murder the head of the pack with a decorative knife. She barely escapes the academy before it goes up in flames!

Movie Synopsis:

"Suzy Bannion travels to Germany to perfect her ballet skills. She arrives at the Tanz dance academy in the pouring rain and is refused admission after another woman is seen fleeing the school. She returns the next morning and this time is let in. She learns that the young woman she saw fleeing the previous evening, Pat Hingle, has been found dead. Strange things soon begin to occur. Suzy becomes ill and is put on a special diet; the school becomes infested with maggots; odd sounds abound; and Daniel, the pianist, is killed by his own dog. A bit of research indicates that the ballet school was once a witches' coven - and as Suzy learns, still is."  (Courtesy of IMBD)

Director:  Dario Argentino

Writers:  Dario Argentino and Daria Nicolodi

Stars:  Jessica Harper, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli

I first watched this movie in 2010 when rumors of a remake was circulating.  However, after attempts at a remake (at least two in the last four years), critics state that it might never happen due to legal issues.

I thought this movie was astonishing.  The gory detail and witty cinematic effects trump even the most modern movies with their technological advances.  This truly is like watching a gothic romance on screen, give the romance, but all the same.

My Rating:

 4.5 Stars

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