Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


An example of the colorful art direction of Suspiria
SUSPIRIA (1977). Director: Dario Argento.

When Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives at the exclusive Tam dance academy in Germany, a series of odd events occur. First a young woman who was expelled from the school, and her friend, are savagely murdered in town. Suzy's roommate Sara (Stefania Casini) is convinced that the unseen, heavy-breathing directress is still living in the building and that none of the teachers ever go home at night -- what are they up to? More murders occur, some of them apparently due to supernatural means, such as the death of blind pianist Daniel (Flavio Bucci) at the teeth of his once-friendly dog. Suzy learns that the school was founded decades before by the late Helena Marcos, the "Black Queen," who was rumored to be a witch, but after her death all activities of witchcraft in the academy were eradicated -- or were they? Suspiria is a creepy and suspenseful film that is certainly not without its flaws but is very entertaining. Jessica Harper is fine as the heroine, as is Alida Valli [The Paradine Case] as the stern Miss Tanner, and Joan Bennett [Secret Beyond the Door] as nominal headmistress Madame Blanc. The colorful art deco art direction is another plus, but the music by Goblin [which was used rather effectively in Deep Red] is too often just a lot of noisy pounding and vocal screaming that does nothing for the picture. This is the first of what became known as Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy. Like most of Argento's films, this is not for all tastes.

Verdict: Watch out for those maggots! ***.


angelman66 said...

This is a film I saw years ago and wanted to like, but I found it hard to follow. Maybe I was watching it too late at night or was expecting a more conventional narrative, but your review makes me want to see it again. I think I'll get more out of it with a second viewing.

William said...

It's definitely easier to follow the second time!