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Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Directed by Dario Argento

You can make at least three lofty claims about this one: it's the crown jewel of Italian horror, it's the best damn witchcraft movie ever made, and it's blessed with the most effective horror soundtrack of all time (courtesy of Goblin). There are so many elements successfully coming together here that it's still an overwhelming experience (especially in full stereo with the volume cranked). Director Dario Argento began his career by turning out some provocative dark thrillers but soon followed his calling down a bloodier path with 1975's "Deep Red". Two years later he unleashed "Suspiria", a full blown tale of supernatural horror that plays out like a candy colored nightmare. Literary influences for this masterwork include Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". Originally the script called for much younger girls to play the main roles and, although this was changed, the film retains the feeling of a child's nightmare. Argento employs little tricks to heighten this atmosphere like placing doorknobs higher so that the adult characters have to reach up, like a child, to open a door, and by keeping much of the dialogue intended to be delivered by younger actresses intact. The results, however, are anything but childlike. Jessica Harper plays the ballerina under duress who comes to an elite dancing academy in Germany. The night of her arrival there is a rainstorm and a grisly double murder. Her curiosity about the crime leads her to the discovery that this prestigious school of dance is run by a coven of witches who do not take kindly to meddling young Americans. Truly a work of bloody high art.


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