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The images contain objects we recognize, like people, buildings, and interior decor. But the objects seem vaguely menacing, and less real than surreal, as though they symbolize ideas, repressed desires, or subconscious fears. The vivid, rich colors, strange camera angles, deep shadows, and bright light piercing through darkness, all contribute to the impression that the viewer is trapped in someone else's nightmare.
One haunting segment of the film takes place in a huge, and strangely empty, public square, at night. A blind man and his German shepherd dog stand in the middle of the square, surrounded by imposing buildings of neo-classical architectural style. Some professional reviewers of this film have suggested that the public square is a veiled reference to Hitler and Nazism. Indeed, one could argue that the film's subtext is an indictment of fascism.
"Suspiria" is not for everyone. It is unsettling, and at times grisly. The plot is weak, and plot elements are not really explained. The acting is largely irrelevant. And while the background music is suitably gothic, it is also frantic and monotonous.
The best approach to this "art-house" film is to ignore the superficial plot, and focus instead on the fabulous cinematography, and the gothic images as conceptual metaphors.
Suspiria is the most beautiful horror film ever made. Every single frame of this film is expertly lit and colorful. With this technique Argento manages to create an almost unbearable amount of tension and the extremely brutal and bloody murder sequences look so good one can only admire their beauty. The music score by Goblin is one of the most effective score ever to grace a horror movie.
The story concerns an American ballet student who discovers that a coven of witches run the school as bodies begin piling up.
Not much of a story here, but that's really not the main thing. Style and atmosphere is the main course here, and it's execution is completely flawless. Acting and dubbing are okay and the dialogue is a bit stiff. But these are minor flaws in an operatic horror ride one is not likely to forget that easily.
So sit yourself down, turn out the light, and watch this movie in surround sound, 'cause the music alone will totally give you the creeps.
That's about it for plot. There IS a plot but it jumps all over the place...but it doesn't matter. This movie is fascinating just to look at and hear it. The settings are truly bizarre and done in eye-popping color. They're complimented by the excellent use of color and lighting. Also the group Goblin contributes to it a downright terrifying and LOUD score which really starts to work on you. The murder scenes are graphic--VERY graphic. The opening double murder is shocking and bloody. There are many great sequences that you just look at in wonder HOW this was done. My favorite is when Sarah (Stefania Casini) is being stalked through the academy late at night by an unseen evil force.
Director Dario Argento has made a true masterpiece of horror. Its short on plot but the visuals and music more than make up for any of its drawbacks. The acting is good--especially by Joan Bennett (obviously enjoying herself) and Alida Valli who just LOOKS scary...especially those teeth of hers. Harper is also very good considering she was acting opposite people who didn't speak English! The poor dubbing is a little distracting but this is still a horror masterpiece. A must-see. TRY to see it in a theatre.
Dario Argento has to be one of the most talented directors in Italian film history. He was influenced by some of the greatest directors in cinema including Alfred Hitchcock. Dario Argento did it all with Suspria. Suspria breaks all the barriers. Not only is it completely nightmarish and bazaar, but it uses different colors of light in a brilliant, chilling way. Suspiria has some of the most memorable scenes in history, whether it be the first shocking murder, the dog biting the man's neck, or the very good ending which will have your eyes glued to the screen.
One of the most nightmarish aspects of Suspiria is the over-the-top creepy music that it offers. When "Goblin" performs music for a movie, that should be instant indication that the movie will be very tense experience. The tension and suspense in Suspiria is built up by the music.
Gore hounds will not be disappointed by Suspiria. Keep in mind, I said "won't be disappointed" not "be impressed". Suspiria has enough gore to be realalistic, but not enough to impress. However, people who watch Suspiria shouldn't watch it for the gore, they should watch it for the haunting atmosphere and tension.
Suspiria was shot in Italy, therefore, if you are watching the movie in an English language you will find that it is dubbed. This may very well be the only reason I found the dialoge in Suspiria to be fairly average. The dubbed audio didn't fit very well, but it isn't beyond terrible.
The only con of Suspiria is the fact that it seems to be dragged out. However, this hardly hurts the film in anyway, and is almost unnoticeable to first time viewers. The first time I viewed Suspiria will be a experience I will not forget.
I highly recommend Suspiria to every euro-horror fan out there. It is very nightmarish, creepy, suspenseful, nightmarish, terrifying... Did I mention nightmarish?
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It took me twenty-eight years to have the chance for watching "Suspiria". This masterpiece of Dario Argento has never been released on VHS in Brazil, and only a couple of months ago a new Brazilian distributor released this magnificent double DVD, recorded on DTS and having lots of extras, including a documentary about Dario Argento. "Suspiria" is outstanding, and has exceeded my best expectations: the story is excellent, its atmosphere recalls a nightmare, with the amazing use of strong bright colors and the soundtrack from the Italian band Goblin is very scary. The cult actress Jessica Harper has another great performance and her character Suzy seems to be trapped in a nightmare. I certainly include "Suspiria" among my favorite horror movies and I only regret the time I have missed without having the chance of watching this stunning work of one of my favorite directors. My vote is ten.
Title (Brazil): "Suspiria"
Note: On 08 July 2013, I saw this movie again.
On 02 December 2016, I saw this film again.
If you like horror movies with either intense psychological or gory scares (e.g. The Others, The Shinning, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Hostel, Saw), I wouldn't recommend this movie.
My only positive comments are the aesthetically pleasing settings and the main musical theme, which is not bad for a 1970s movie (although it's heavily overused to the point of becoming an annoyance).
In my opinion this movie has almost no entertainment value and is a waste of time. I was compelled to write this review, since most of the other reviews are positive. Hopefully, some people with tastes similar to mine will save some time and money by avoiding this overrated flick.