Suspiria (1977)

suspiria poster 1977 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great visuals and film style, fairytale aspect of the story

Ending leaves you wanting more

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Suspiria

Studio:  Seda Spettacoli

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  February 1, 1977

MPAA Rating:  R

suspiria opening death sequence

This is why you never invite friends to spend the night

A young dancer named Suzy Banyon (Jessica Harper) arrives at an elite European dancing school on a stormy night.  As she arrives a girl flees the school and meets a horrible death at the hands of a killer.  As Suzy notices strange goings on at the school, she finds herself pulled into a horror of unspeakable evil.  What was once fantasy stories of witches might be true, and her curiosity might be the end of her.

Directed by Dario Argento, Suspiria is a horror suspense film.  The film features a soundtrack by Goblin and considered part one of Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy which continued with Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007).  It was well received and often is placed on “best of” lists of horror films.

suspiria 1977 peacock mother of signs ending jessica harper

No one sleeps well at this place…maybe if it wasn’t lit up like a vintage whorehouse they could sleep better

Suspiria is one of those movies you hear stories about and it is built up to monumental levels.  Unlike a lot of those films, Suspiria lives up to the hype (for the most part) and is not only creepy and frightening but a visual feast.

The story (like many of Argento’s stories) almost has a fairy tale type feel.  The young, innocent girl in a strange and foreign world surrounded by danger and witchcraft finds she has to escape the danger on her own.  The danger circles Suzy and gets progressively closer as she falls down the rabbit hole.  I do feel that the ending is a lot of build-up to not enough.  One quick stab and she’s out of danger…I wanted more jumps and more threats.

suspiria 1977 wire pit

Seems like a good place to keep piles of wire…

Jessica Harper does a nice job playing the innocent girl despite not being the strongest of actors, but how the story is crafted, it is almost better that she is soft-spoken, wispy, and almost too perfectly innocent (I like the portion where witchcraft had to be explained to her and likewise the audience).  She is surrounded by nymph-like girls who she does not entirely fit in with and horrible cruel people who (unknowingly) wish her harm…and most of the bad people are unattractive as well.

The ethereal feel of the story is augmented by great visuals that also feel like they are plucked out of a storybook.  The sets are big and gothic, and Argento used an over-saturated hyper-colored world that is similar to the style used in The Wizard of Oz.  Use of fish-eye type lenses creates a warping world that seems to be wrapped around Suzy and dreamlike.  This is combined with Argento’s over violent attacks and super-red excessive amounts of blood…Argento singlehandedly keeps glass shops in business since he breaks tons of glass in every film.

suspiria ending witch corpse

I feel the whole tone of the movie would change if they just played “Witchy-Woman” in this scene

The Three Mothers aspect of the story isn’t very developed since I think it was almost an afterthought of Dario’s plot.  The idea is that each of the films in the series focuses on a different witch.  The witch in this film is Mater Suspiriorum (Mother of Sighs) and is named Helena Markos…the Black Queen.  In Inferno and The Mother of Tears the backstory is developed more, but here, Markos is barely seen or explained.

Suspiria is a good film, but it always leaves me wanting more.  It isn’t as crazy or absurd as Argento’s film Phenomena (my personal favorite), but I also have never had much fear of witches…especially very traditional witches.  It however is a must for horror fans and gory enough for even modern viewers.  After much debate and questioning, Suspiria received a remake/reimagining in 2018 (which in its own sense is also rather good).

Related Links:

Inferno (1980)

Mother of Tears (2007)

Suspiria (2018)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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