Suspiria (1977)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Suspiria</strong> (1977)

(TubiTV Streaming, May 2017) At first glance, there is no way I thought I’d like Suspiria. I abhor most slasher films; my rare contacts with Italian giallo films have been unpleasant; and the thought of another movie with a psycho cutting down young women in garish detail is enough to make me queasy. But after actually watching the film, I’ll concede that Suspiria at least commits to its grand-guignol madness. Long before American Horror started leaning on a self-aware shtick, Dario Argento pushes the limits of his barely coherent premise into showy set-pieces. Colourful to a degree that’s not even close to subtle, Suspiria keeps one-upping its murderous set-pieces to the point of nearly approaching abstract art: The first big horror sequence of the film ends with a body being hung/thrown through a skylight, and another woman being killed by the glass debris. Terrible, but weirdly successful at once. Don’t look for a tightly plotted story—Suspiria is about the atmosphere more than narrative, and that atmosphere starts early on—even a relatively innocuous airport arrival sequence is made instantly dreadful by the use of red lighting and an oppressive synthetic score. Suspiria isn’t the kind of film that you’d show to anyone sane, but it’s weirdly respectable in its own way. It commits to its madness and doesn’t pull punches in the way it follows its set-pieces to the end. The Technicolor visual styling of the film is impressive even forty years later, and the dreadful quality of its nightmarish atmosphere makes it an interesting film even for those who want nothing to do with psycho-slasher horror films.

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