Suspiria Screen 94 of 13 reviews

Suspiria

1977

Suspiria Poster
  • The spirit of collaboration and experimentation that would mark [cinematographer Luciano] Tovoli and Argento’s work together on Suspiria manifests on screen in a visual cacophony, paralleled with exquisite intensity by Goblin’s famously aggressive score.

  • Forget the contributions of John Williams; no movie has ever been better defined by its theme than Suspiria. Goblin’s layered folk guitars, simple glockenspiel and whistling synths perfectly capture the slasher film’s blend of classic fairy tale tropes and modernism, Gothic by way of Pop Art.

  • ...SUSPIRIA is as much a testament to Argento's love for classical art, which can also be seen in 1987's OPERA and 1995's THE STENDHAL SYNDROME. Argento's genius is to set these films, all of them bloody and relatively sleazy, in the world of "high" art. By doing so, he not only satirizes the pompous nature of "connoisseurs" who dismiss cinema—particular genre films—as a "lower" form, but also recontextualize these "higher" forms to fit in the realm of "commercial" work.

  • Arguably Argento’s masterpiece, an instance of an alchemical mise-en-scène engulfing and transforming what is, by most traditional standards, an essentially disjointed narrative. Confrontationally visceral, it also has a bizarrely fanciful side resulting from the filmmaker’s fascination with fairy-tale fantasies, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in particular.

  • "Life is disappointing." So goes the most common English translation of a famous line of dialogue in Ozu's Tokyo Story. As if to underscore that point, here is a British-released Region 2 Blu-ray disc of Dario Argento's 1977 Suspiria, quite probably the horror director's greatest work, a unique and uniquely deranged visual trip in which every shot seems charged with a near-kitschily elaborate jolt of _shock horror_.

  • In the splendid extended finale, Suzy stumbles on the coven’s black mass, among other terrifying secrets... The movie climaxes with a fantastic light show of lysergic apparitions and exploding chandeliers. A veteran of Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater, the deadpan Harper puts her training to good use, gracefully eluding the attacking furniture and skillfully dodging the imploding set, as she flees—arms protectively crossed before her face—out into the night.

  • Dario Argento’s terror masterpiece is a strange work even for that stylistic champion. Like Brian De Palma, his contemporary (and probable acolyte), Argento’s cinematic gamesmanship and love of macabre subjects is, above all, a meditation on the movie screen as tectonic space—a canvas, yes, but also a silk screen, a puzzle box, a set of sliding doors that can be used to reveal anything.

  • As with all art cinema, Suspiria is a film that requires contemplation. Its surreal compositions emulate the feel of an artist’s canvas, with individual scenes being more aesthetically pleasing than the film as a whole... The most cinematically charged sequence is the opening murder scene, which is saturated with primary colours and a near-hysterical soundtrack. Both of these features are so overpowering as to distract the viewer from the gory activities that the scene details.

  • [Argento's] masterpiece of this period is Suspiria (1977), one of the purest and most sustained of all horror movies, playing on atmosphere rather than literal shock.

  • With sights and sounds that aim for sensory overload, Suspiria converts vulgarity and excess into high art, escalating to a fever pitch on former Antonioni cinematographer Luciano Tovoli's eye-popping images and Goblin's assaultive score.

  • It may be Argento’s silliest work, but while its plot is scarcely sensible, the film rightfully earns its notoriety via Argento’s fabulous and detailed engagement and reworking of fairy-tale motifs. The film’s opening “once upon a time” giddily anticipates the nasty folktale that follows.

  • In which Argento wisely minimizes the expository "dramatic" stuff at which he stinks and prioritizes the gaudy delirium at which he excels. Not having seen this in over 20 years, I'd forgotten how aggressively (and brilliantly) it employs Goblin's score, right from the outset; when Suzy arrives at the airport, their signature riff plays each time the doors to the street open, then cuts off instantly when they close, as if the soundtrack itself is warning her to turn back.

  • Dario Argento's grossly overstated mise-en-scene adds some perverse interest to this routine (if unusually gory) horror film from 1976. Argento works so hard for his effects—throwing around shock cuts, colored lights, and peculiar camera angles—that it would be impolite not to be a little frightened.

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