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2-Disc Special Edition
1977 (2007) - Blue Underground
By 1977, Dario Argento had established a reputation as one of
the most exciting new horror filmmakers to emerge in years. He'd
begun to leave behind the giallo formula of his earliest films
with 1975's Profondo Rosso
(a.k.a. Deep Red). But it
was with 1977's Suspiria
that Argento would really come into his own, creating a surreal
and stylish horror movie that may arguably be his masterpiece.
Jessica Harper stars as Suzy Bannion, an American dance student
newly enrolled in an exclusive German ballet academy. She
arrives in a torrential downpour just as another student is
making an abrupt exit, running terrified into the woods. Later
that night, the girl is murdered at her friend's apartment. Suzy
is befriended by the dead girl's closest confidante (Stefania
Casini) who reveals that they had begun to suspect that the
school is actually being run by a coven of witches.
the general plot of Suspiria
but it doesn't begin to do justice to what Argento's movie achieves.
It may be the most beautiful horror movie ever filmed. Argento and
cinematographer Luciano Tovoli drench the screen in vibrant primary
colors, with scenes dominated by great pools of reds, blues, yellows
and greens. There are very few horror movies that look quite like
Suspiria and if all the movie
had going for it was its look, it'd still be considered a minor
classic. Fortunately, there's more to it. Argento's skill at staging
grisly, horrific deaths is at its peak here, from the astonishing
death of the girl who escapes the academy to a blind man attacked by
his own dog. Every one of these sequences is bizarre, frightening
and almost completely unexpected.
Admittedly, plot is not one of Suspiria's
strong points. In some ways, this works in the movie's favor,
lending it a dreamlike atmosphere that ratchets up the feeling that
anything can happen. Jessica Harper was an inspired choice for the
lead with her porcelain doll looks and eyes like saucers. She
appears very fragile and vulnerable but her voice and attitude
reveal her underlying strength. Finally, the memorable and effective
score by Goblin completes the unsettling tone.
Anchor Bay released two versions of Suspiria
about five years ago, a single disc edition and a three-disc limited
set. Blue Underground has now reissued the special edition, dropping
the third disc, which was a CD soundtrack of Goblin's score. Good
news for anyone who missed out on that now out-of-print disc. The
set carries the THX stamp of approval and for good reason. The movie
looks absolutely phenomenal and the sound, which comes in everything
from 6.1 DTS-ES on down to Dolby Surround 2.0, is nearly as good.
The first disc includes a THX Optimizer, a couple trailers, the TV
and radio spots, a poster and still gallery, bios for Argento,
co-writer Daria Nicolodi and Jessica Harper and a really silly music
video by Daemonia, composer Claudio Simonetti's post-Goblin band.
Disc two is devoted to Suspiria: 25th
Anniversary, a comprehensive 52-minute documentary
featuring interviews with virtually everyone you'd want, including
Argento, Harper, all the members of Goblin, and even Udo Kier, who's
in the movie for all of ten minutes tops.
If you only ever watch one Dario Argento movie, it should be Suspiria.
It's an inspired fever dream of a horror movie. Anchor Bay's release
was top-notch five years ago and it holds up now that it's at Blue
Underground, thankfully without the "limited edition" tag
to unnecessarily mark up the price. If you love horror, you should
have Suspiria in your
Film Rating: A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A-/B+
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