We’re getting closer to Halloween, and it’s a perfect time to indulge in a wealth of horror films that put you in a suitably spooky mood. One film that perfectly evokes a suitable amount of terror is Dario Argento’s 1977 cult classic Suspiria. Suspiria is both beautiful nightmare and fantastical grown-up fairytale in one jewel-toned nightmare package. Here’s some of the reasons why Suspiria should be part of your Halloween horror binge-watch:
That magnificent Goblin soundtrack:
Inevitably, when people think of Suspiria, the incredible soundtrack by the band Goblin always comes up. Without doubt, it’s one of the most memorable film soundtracks of the 20th century. Tinkling, fantastical chimes merge with ritualistic-sounding drumming, maniacal howling and the raspy, creepy whispering of Goblin band member Claudio Simonetti, culminating at times with the echoing shout of “WITCH!!!!” From the opening titles onwards, the soundtrack intertwines majestically with Argento’s visuals in a delicious, heady witches’ brew for the senses.
The vibrant use of colour:
Argento’s use of colour defies horror film conventions. Instead of having scenes in moody tones and with minimal lighting, Suspiria drips with colour and is a richer experience for it. Fantastical red and blue lighting illuminates passengers at the airport in the opening scene, rehearsal rooms feature windows with magnificent red, blue and yellow stained glass, hallways are saturated with a voluptuous crimson, and the delicious unrealistic Giallo-red blood drips onto a pristine marble floor in the first murder scene. All of this colour contrasts with Suzy’s clothing and her room at the Academy: she wears predominantly white, and her room at the Academy is a pale cream; alluding to purity and innocence in comparison to the evil around her.
Jessica Harper is a magnetic lead:
There’s something so compelling about Jessica Harper’s performance as Suzy Bannion. She has a wide-eyed innocence that adds to the juxtaposition of good versus evil, a sweetness that is not overly saccharine. She’s not a kick-arse heroine in the same vein as, say, Alien’s Ripley, but she’s not exactly hapless victim, either. Things happen to her, she reacts and is ultimately able to triumph, but with Jessica Harper’s performance it makes Suzy very likeable. In fact, she is returning in the remake of Suspiria (set for 2018), in the role of Anke (Dakota Johnson takes the role of Suzy, spelled ‘Susie’ for the 2018 remake).
It has “so bad, it’s good” moments:
Suspiria is not a perfect film, but the moments which are cringey and “so bad it’s good” actually enhance the film even more. You can be watching a ridiculous-looking stabbing (Pat Hingle’s assailant isn’t a frenzied murderer- his stabbing is stilted and a bit absurd), or an obviously fake dog ripping the throat from their master and find it both absurdly funny and terrifying at the same time. There’s also some utterly ridiculous dialogue (“This is Pavlo, our general handyman. He’s really ugly, isn’t he? Don’t be afraid to say so.”), but whether you choose to overlook its faults or embrace them, Suspiria remains one hell of a cinematic joyride.