31 Nights of Horror - Night Thirty: Suspiria (1977)

Dario Argento's Suspiria is my favorite horror film of all time. It is a fine work of art that transcends its time and it is as much a feast for the eyes as it is the psyche. It is a film that grips you by the throat and never lets you go until the very end...when you are gasping for your breath. There is no film like it that both haunts you and mystifies you with its sheer beauty.

Suspiria is about a young American girl named Suzy Bannion, played by the lovely Jessica Harper, who travels to Germany to attend a famous ballet academy where she eventually learns that the school is really a front for an evil coven of witches hellbent on death and destruction. It's funny because as simple as the plot really is, critics always try to dissect the film and pan it as incoherent. It is not incoherent...the plot within the film is merely a simplistic backdrop to the real spectacle....Argento's fine craftsmanship and dedication to his sick vision. It's as if he cut open his skull and let you look inside as he bleeds out his technicolor soul all over you.

Suspiria is the first of "The Three Mothers" trilogy by Argento followed by the awesomely craziness of Inferno and culminating with the absolutely mind-scattering battiness of Mother of Tears. It's the best film in the trilogy and if it were not for the universal appeal of the terrorfying next film, Suspiria would have stood on the top of this 31 Nights of Horror list.

The music is just as beautiful and frantically disorienting as the film. Supplied by Argento's long time soundtrack architects, Goblin, it is the kind of sonic landscape that crawls under your skin in a nightmarish fashion. Blending seamlessly with the film, it makes it such a powerfully haunting experience.

While the acting and the plot scheme really isn't the stuff that Academy Awards are made for, it is important to view Suspiria as an entire piece. It really is a beautiful film in every regard and it never ages. There is a scene very early on where Suzy (Harper) notices a young blonde girl, played by Eva Axen, fleeing from the academy in a frightened manner. The girl, whose name in the film is Pat Hingle, ends up finding sanctuary at her friend's apartment where a hanging and an impalement is in order for the two victims. As that particular scene comes to its ghastly conclusion it ends on a truly immortal shot of Hingle hanging in the lobby of the apartment building that goes down as one of the most memorable scenes in horror film history and pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film.

I love Suspiria to death and have always found something new in every viewing. I must have watched it like 100 times by now. It's a gorgeous journey into the macabre and a perfect treat for this Halloween.

5 out of 5

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