Last night’s film, Suspira is one of the classics of the Italian horror cinema. No less an authority than Alice Cooper himself called Suspira one of the 10 best horror films ever made. Since the movie concerns dancers, I figured I would set the mood by visiting my dancing friends at the Brass Rail in Sunnyvale. I’m sorry to report that even the ageless vampire Yvonne is starting to get a little long in the fang. Other than that, it was the perfect way to prepare for Suspira … dancers are all so temperamental.
This is a movie where the soundtrack is really one of the key elements in setting the mood and setting your expectations. As soon as the opening credits begin, the loud, crazy, in your face music immediately grabs your attention. Though out the movie a calliope of irrhythmic percussion, harsh whispers, and noisy synthesizers playing frantically followed by a music box like melody is used to complement the action taking place on screen. Suspiria should be watched with the sound turned up as loud as you can get away with!
The plot of Suspiria is simple, a girl goes to a prestigious ballet school in Europe and finds out it’s a front for a coven of witches. Although it’s often difficult to understand what’s happening, and why or how each component ties into the overall plot, the film presents some truly remarkable and frightening scenes. Although nothing actually happens, the first 10 minutes, starting with Jessica Harper walking towards the exit, getting a cab, riding to the school and trying to get inside during a major rainstorm, are riveting. Then the first murder occurs and it’s spectacular! I have no idea what the maggot scene has to do with the plot but I did find myself running my fingers through my hair subconsciously checking. That in a nutshell is Suspiria, confusing but effective.
Suspira is considered the first installment in the 3 Sisters Trilogy, although there is no mention of the other sisters in this film. Apparently director Dario Argento was pleased enough with Suspiria that he chose to expand the coven to include 2 additional sisters for the two sequels Inferno and Mother of Tears. Although each has it’s own high points, Suspiria is by far the most mind blowing of the three. Between the music, the use of the color red, the off the wall dialogue and plot and the outstanding camera work, I can’t think of another horror film quite as exhilarating as this one.