Written By: Karla Cortes
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Dario Argento
Producers: Claudio Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi
Date Released: Italy – February 1, 1977, United States – August 12, 1977
Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion
Stefania Casini as Sara
Alida Valli as Miss Tanner
Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc
Rudolf Schündler as Professor Milius
Flavio Bucci as Daniel
Udo Kier as Dr. Frank Mandel
Barbara Magnolfi as Olga
Miguel Bosé as Mark
Eva Axén as Pat Hingle
Franca Scagnetti as Cook
Rating = 4/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Suspiria follows the tale of the young dancer from New York, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), who is invited to be a part of the Freiburg Dance Academy, a prestigious ballet school in Germany. Upon her arrival, Bannion is caught in a storm and is immediately greeted by a student in hysterics, Pat Hingle (Eva Axén), who is seen running out of the school into the storm as she murmurs a phrase and waves her arms frantically in the air. When Bannion tries to enter the school, she is dismissed by a voice on the call box and is forced to stay elsewhere for the night. The next day, Bannion returns to the school where she is greeted with open arms by Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) and Miss Tanner (Alida Valli). They then inform her that Pat Hingle was horrifically murdered the night before, which is an odd coincidence to Bannion. She stays with a fellow dance mate, Olga (Barbara Magnolfi), but is quickly moved into the boarding school without Bannion’s consent. Bannion quickly befriends Sara (Stefania Casini) who was a close friend of Pat. Sara informs Bannion of the strange occurrences within the school, and of the secrete that the professors are keeping. After her arrival, strange occurrences start to happen within the boarding school where some of the members of the school fall victim to accidents and death. Bannion starts to encounter strange and supernatural occurrences that start to drive her into a physical and mental spiral. Set out to find out what is happening around her and the disappearance of her friend Sara, Bannion finds and unexpected turn of events to be that the school is run by a coven of witches.
Argento does a fine job at incorporating strange, almost comical, ways of killing off certain characters within Suspiria. The iconic scene with Pat Hingel being brutally stabbed a few times to then having a close up of her heart getting stabbed to later on having her bloody body breakthrough a stained-glass ceiling dropping down into a noose really kicked off the gore aspect within the film. The scene doesn’t stop there, for the camera slowly pans to her friend lying below her with shards of glass and steel rods protruding from her body and face. From having its characters jump into a room filled with barbed wire to getting their necks mauled by a ravaged dog, Suspiria really incorporates gore in artistic ways that in the end, strike beauty with each death. If you enjoy bright, obviously fake blood and intense facial reactions, Suspiria does the job right.
The Grave Review
The reason as to why Suspiria (1977) goes down in horror history as one of the most visually striking horror films of the 19th century is because of Argento’s way of interpreting his famous quote “Bad luck isn’t brought by broken mirrors but by broken minds” into one film. Originally inspired by different fairy tales, Suspiria was actually the product of a true story told by Daria Nicolodi’s grandmother. According to Nicolodi, her grandmother Yvonne Müller Loeb was sent to a prestigious boarding school where she later found out was a place of Black Magic practice. This inspired Nicolodi and Argento as they were traveling through cities with histories of Black Magic all around Europe.
The element of light playing within color is exactly what makes Suspiria captivating. Although the acting aspect is not great, the editing of the film has a few visible hiccups and the dubbing of certain characters are slightly off, Suspiria still manages to keep its audience entranced within every scene. From intense hues of red as the girls sleep in the dance room to the mystic blue waves as Sara struggles to escape her killer, Argento did a fantastic job in showing a spiraling descent of the mind within each character by adding disorienting colors to each scene and by making the movie a technicolor spectacle. Argento even made a point to have red be the prominent color within the film in order to make the atmosphere even more unsettling.
Argento also made it a point to always keep the camera moving in order to keep the dreamlike imagery alive. There is a sense of beauty within the film, which has never before been seen in horror and Suspiria is truly deemed as a chromatic film. Let alone the light and color, the sets which were created at De Paoli studios truly put Argento’s film at the top of the charts. The Grave Reviews community deems Suspiria with fours graves not for its plot and acting, but for its captivating beauty of color and light elements within horror to add to the distress of the plot.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Suspiria (1977) four graves out of five graves.
Do you agree with our review? Comment below.