Movie Name: Suspiria
Studio: Seda Spettacoli
Release Date(s): February 1, 1977
MPAA Rating: R
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 curiousity might be the end of her.
Suspiria was directed by famed Italian director Dario Argento and features a musical score by Goblin. The movie marks the first film in Dario Argento’s Three Mothers storyline which was continued in Inferno (1980) and The Mother of Tears (2007). It was warmly received by critics and considered by most fans to be Argento’s best work.
The story (like many of Argento’s stories) almost has a fairytale 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. 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). 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.
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. 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.
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. This of course is not good enough for Hollywood, because a remake of Suspiria is in the works.
Mother of Tears (2007)