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Suspiria – 1977
The Only Thing More Terrifying Than The Last 12 Minutes Of This Film Are The First 92.
Dario Argento

Thomas De Quincey (book Suspiria de Profundis) uncredited
Dario Argento and
Daria Nicolodi

Claudio Argento producer
Salvatore Argento executive producer

Jessica Harper – Suzy Bannion
Stefania Casini – Sara
Flavio Bucci – Daniel
Miguel Bosé – Mark
Barbara Magnolfi – Olga
Susanna Javicoli – Sonia
Eva Axén – Patty ‘Pat’ Hingle
Rudolf Schündler – Prof. Milius
Udo Kier – Dr. Frank Mandel
Alida Valli – Miss Tanner
Joan Bennett – Madame Blanc
Margherita Horowitz – Teacher
Jacopo Mariani – Albert
Fulvio Mingozzi – Taxi Driver
Franca Scagnetti – Cook
Renato Scarpa – Prof. Verdegast
Serafina Scorceletti – 2nd Cook
Giuseppe Transocchi – Pavlo
Renata Zamengo – Caroline
Alessandra Capozzi – Dancer
Salvatore Capozzi – Dancer
Diana Ferrara – Dancer
Cristina Latini – Dancer
Alfredo Raino – Dancer
Claudia Zaccari – Dancer
Dario Argento – Narrator (Italian version) (voice) (uncredited)
Giovanni Di Bernardo – Police Inspector (uncredited)

Review by Gary F Taylor

Suspiria (1977)

Hypnotically Beautiful But Weak In Plot,
In 1977 SUSPIRIA was considered an extremely violent film; in the wake of the slasher genre, however, the violence involved seems less horrific than you might expect. What continues to work, however, is the look with which director Argento endows the film, particularly in regard to the set designs, camera set-ups, and use of color. Visually speaking, this is an amazingly beautiful film, with Art Nouveau designs, deceptively simple cinematography, and washes of intensely artificial color that dazzle with intensity. Even in the midst of its horrors it is almost impossible to take your eyes from the screen, such is its strange beauty.

The cast is equally odd. Leads Jessica Harper and Stefania Casini are very typical of 1970s ingenues, but they each have a quality that sets them slightly apart from the young actresses of the time. Barbara Magnolfi makes an impression as Olga, one of the school’s students, as does Susanna Javicoli as a harsh instructor. Even Udo Kier, cult star of Andy Warhol’s FRANKENSTEIN and Dracula puts in an appearance. But oddest of all is Hollywood’s Joan Bennett, who gives a truly flawless turn as the seemingly lady-like and ultra-respectable Madame Blanc.

Less successful is the story itself, which is so slight as to be almost incidental. Young dancer Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) has enrolled in a famous Italian ballet school–and upon her arrival finds another student fleeing the school in hysterics, a student who is not long after murdered in a horrifically brutal way. Odd incidents follow, and when Suzy’s classmate and friend Sara (Stefania Casini) goes missing, Suzy begins to piece together the truth.

Another flaw, at least to my mind, is the soundtrack. While it has been widely admired, I can think of few film soundtracks that are quite as heavy-handed in their dynamics as SUSPIRIA. That aside, and while the film has considerable creepiness, it isn’t frightening per se. In the final analysis, this is a film which I think is best seen by cult connoisseurs–and even they are more likely to admire than to flatly like it.

Suspiria (1977)

Review by Wayne Malin

Superb horror film,
Susie Bannon (Jessica Harper) goes to a dance academy in Germany to study. It turns out its run by a witches coven and they’ll kill anybody who threatens them…

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 favourite 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. It’s 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.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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