The original ad campaign boasted that the only thing more terrifying than the last five minutes of SUSPIRIA were the first 90. Actually, it's the first 15 minutes that contain some of the most frightening footage ever committed to celluloid, but why quibble.
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Suspiria is the perfect antipasto.
As visceral and invigorating as classics like “Deep Red” or “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage” might be, they aren’t a patch on 1977’s Suspiria.
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
Argento’s deliriously artificial horror film owes as much to Georges Méliès and German Expressionism (specifically The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) as it does to Jean Cocteau and Grimm fairy tales. =
A ridiculously self-indulgent spree of satanic bogeymannerisms entitled Suspiria, virtually self-destructs in the opening sequence. Eager to menace the audience from every sensory direction, Argento doesn't so much create and sustain an illusion of terror as invite you to marvel at his garish ingenuity, at the spectacle of a filmmaker who can't resist overstylizing and upstaging his material.
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.
Mr. Argento's methods make potentially stomach-turning material more interesting than it ought to be. Shooting on bold, very fake-looking sets, he uses bright primary colors and stark lines to create a campy, surreal atmosphere, and his distorted camera angles and crazy lighting turn out to be much more memorable than the carnage.
Suspiria truly is one of the absolute classics of the horror genre and anyone who considers themselves to be true students of the cinema owe it to themselves to experience it for themselves, especially if they get a chance to see it on the big screen where it belong.