30 October 2010

Week of Horror 2010: Day 06

The week of horror is closing up fast - I know, sadness - and tonight I present to thee a old horror classic. Well, classic to most horror fans. This was my first time watching it, in a double feature with David Fincher's SEVEN (also first time seeing that, and I was glad it didn't end as I expected it to). Previous entries in the Ramblings of a Minnesota Geek Week of Horror 2010 include Monster Island, Killer Condom, Paranormal Activity 2, Troll 2, and Night of the Demons (2010).


Starring Jessica Harper, Udo Kier, Joan Bennett, Alida Valii. Written by Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi. Directed by Dario Argento. Release: 1 February 1977. Nouveaux Pictures, 98 mins., Rated R

Plot: American gal Suzy transfers to a German ballet school, and weird happenings get goin' relatively quickly, what with disappearances and odd sounds, the normal stuff.

Well that was...interesting. This is going to be a short review because I don't have much to say. One thing is absolutely certain, and a aspect that is already widely acknowledged with this movie, is that director Dario Argento has one hell of a eye for gorgeous cinematography. I understand horror movies in general don't get too much credit when it comes to that particular technical shindig, but flicks like HALLOWEEN and SUSPIRIA most definitely deserve kudos. Since Carpenter's original, I haven't seen such striking shots in a horror film, let alone the various colors Argento uses: the green, the red, the blue. All utterly amazing.

(Taking a quick detour from SUSPIRIA discussion, with each and every new horror remake, I've become increasingly disappointed with the lack of creativity in the cinematography. There are only two examples I can think of, and I doubt many others will agree with me: Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN [2007] made great use of hand held and emphasis on close-ups, but I can honestly say the cinematography was impressive, nonetheless, nicely reflecting the chaos of the story onto screen. The other one, Bayer's NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET [2010], is a mostly bad movie, but one can tell the music video director is at least trying to instill some mood/atmosphere with his wide and creepy shots. Not entirely successful, but kudos nonetheless. As far as Jason Vorhees is concerned, Ronny Yu's FREDDY VS. JASON just might be the most visually pleasing film we get with him. Alright, detour over.)

OK, now that the rich and creepy cinematography and vibrant colors have been established, I regret to be one of those folks who just aren't impressed by the story. Frankly, it's confusing from time to time, and it does seem Argento values the visual aesthetic over a solid story. As far as the final revelation of who and what is behind all these murders - well, it's cool, and the moment where Suzy gets to go all Final Girl on the old-as-dirt grandma is bloody awesome (as is the house ripping itself apart: COOL!). But I don't know if I fully buy it. Sure, it brings some logic to the first death, as well as the sudden attacks made by the blind guy's dog, but it all just sorta comes out of nowhere, and even though there is some backstory established, it all just feels kind of random and hokey.

This is the part where horror bloggers shun me forever...

However, in addition to the awesomeness of the cinematography and colors, SUSPIRIA also boasts two other marvelous aspects. Jessica Harper is amazing and grabs your attention instantly, her eyes and expressions just as captivating as the all-hell-breaks-loose finale. The other complimentary part of the movie that adds to the creep factor is the score, provided by a band called 'Goblin', with extra music added by Argento. Frakkin' creepy, and a little bit addicting. It's not like I haven't found the score on YouTube and listened to it the past hour or anything, not at all...

Beautiful, eerie, expertly acted, SUSPIRIA is a interesting movie. It reminds me of German expressionism of the early, um, 20s or 30s, what with specific lighting to create a deliberate atmosphere and crazy mind-frak sets [oh, yes, art direction is expert, mind you, expert. Mesmerizing to look at]. No matter my semi-reservations about the movie, enough that I did like it, it is a horror movie that hits many a 'best of' list, and its creep factor should not be missed, so I recommend.

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