Suspiria is a 1977 horror film co-written, additional music, & directed by Italian horror maestro Dario Argento (Opera, Two Evil Eyes, Inferno, Mother of Tears, Phenomena, Tenebrae, & Deep Red). It’s partially based on Thomas De Quincey’s 1845 essay Suspiria de Profundis. It was co-written by actress Daria Nicolodi (Inferno, Paganini Horror, & Demons 6/The Black Cat). It was produced by Claudio Argento (Dawn of the Dead, Santa Sangre, The Phantom of the Opera, Giallo, & Scarlet Diva) & Salvatore Argento (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat o’ Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, & Tenebrae). The music was composed by the legendary Goblin (Dawn of the Dead, Deep Red, Beyond the Darkness, The Church, Tenebrae, Phenomena, & Contamination). It’s the first film of “The Three Mothers” trilogy followed by 1980’s Inferno & 2007’s The Mother of Tears. 20th Century Fox distributed the film in the U.S. under a subsidiary “International Classics” due to it’s violent nature, they also cut it down by 8 minutes for it’s R Rating here. It was remade in 2018 by director Luca Guadagnino (check out my review of it on here).
Suzy Bannion (played by: Jessica Harper from Phantom of the Paradise, Shock Treatment, Suspiria 2018, & Minority Report), a young American ballet student arrives during a torrential downpour to study at the co-ed Freiburg Dance Academy. Upon arrival, she encounters another student named Pat Hingle (played by: Eva Axén from This Is the Night, The Golden Mass, & Orpheus 9) fleeing in terror. Suzy is refused entry to the school, forcing her to stay at a motel in town until the next morning. Meanwhile, Pat takes refuge at a friend’s apartment in town where she reveals something sinister is going on at the school before locking herself in the bathroom. She is soon ambushed by an unseen assailant, who manages to drag her up to the roof of the apartment building. The scared student can’t escape the madness that she was trying to run away from. The next morning, Suzy arrives back at the school. She meets Miss Tanner (played by: Alida Valli from Inferno, Killer Nun, The House of Exorcism, The Antichrist, & Lisa and the Devil) & Madame Blanc (played by: Joan Bennett from Dark Shadows, This House Possessed, & We’re No Angels), they call her out for being late. Tanner introduces Suzy to her new roommate Olga (played by: Barbara Magnolfi from Violent Shit: The Movie, The Sister of Ursula, The Suspicious Death of a Minor, & Cut and Run) & rising student Sara (played by: Stefania Casini from Lontano da dove & 1900). Suzy settles in & she’s introduced to Blanc’s nephew Albert (played by: Jacopo Mariani from Deep Red).
Soon after, she is thrown out of her apartment & she is forced to move into the school. The building starts having issues so all the students have to sleep together in one of the dance studios. The blind pianist Daniel (played by: Flavio Bucci from Ligabue & IL Divo) gets fired from the school due to his vicious dog. Sara opens up to Suzy about the school & former student Pat. Lots of strange things start happening around them & the students are stuck in a unpredictable situation. Suzy investigates on her own & contacts Sara’s former psychiatrist Frank Mandel (played by: Udo Kier from Flesh for Frankenstein, Blood for Dracula, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, & Blade). He tells her about Helena Markos who was rumored to be a witch that started her school. She doesn’t trust the teachers from the dance academy & she suspects that they all might be witches. She goes to Professor Milius (played by: Rudolf Schündler from The Exorcist, The Moment to Kill, & The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) for help. He is very knowledgeable about the occult & he gives her important information about her dangerous situation. As she digs deeper into their past, she becomes the target of their next sacrifice. Can she survive this living hell? or Is she already too deep????
Suspiria is one of my all time favorite films. It’s the most beautiful movie ever made IMO, the cinematography from Luciano Tovoli (Single White Female, Tenebrae, Beyond The Door, Titus, & Kiss of Death) is amazing here. Visually, there’s never been anything like it. The colors & the visual style grab your attention right away. It has one of the best scores & theme songs of all the time thanks to the great Goblin who provided the music for this. I can listen to that soundtrack over & over, it just stays with you after listening to it. Jessica Harper gives her best performance in Suspiria. She has a fantastic supporting cast that includes Alida Valli, Joan Bennett, Udo Kier, Rudolf Schündler, & Stefania Casini to boost the overall production. The kills & gore are beautifully done here, they make murder look like art. Good thing that it has all these bright spots because the script is incoherent & all over the place. It’s very random & it’s not consistent at all, that’s always been the biggest issue with this film. If it had a better screenplay, it would probably be perfect but that damn near impossible to accomplish. Personally, I think Suspiria gets better with each revisit. You always find other small things to appreciate about it. This feature gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Synapse Films! This 2160p (2.38:1) transfer with HDR10 is from a brand new 4K restoration of the uncensored Italian 35mm camera negative that supervised & approved by cinematographer Luciano Tovoli. I know what you are thinking, the last blu ray release from Synapse looked amazing but can it really be that much better compared to it? The answer is HELL YES!!!! I’ve seen Suspiria in almost every possible format including VHS, DVD, & blu ray plus at the drive in so I’ve my fair share of experiences with this movie & I can easily say it’s never looked like this before. It’s at it’s highest quality & it’s a major improvement over every other version available right now. Hands down, Suspiria is visually the best looking film of all time & the cinematography is top notch. The colors really pop out on this 4K restoration, you can’t keep your eyes off of it. Something like Suspiria was destined for the 4K format, it’s reference quality like no other. I review huge mainstream movies all the time & this blows every release this away when it comes to 4K. It has a variety of audio options which include English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0, & Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 on this UHD. It’s worth noting that the Dolby Atmos track is new to the UHD release. Want to test out your speakers & sound system? This 4K release is perfect for that because it pounds & sounds fantastic. The dialogue is crystal clear, the mayhem is elevated, & the classic soundtrack has a killer boost to it. It’s also a huge upgrade compared to past releases. It also has English & English SDH subtitles. This is a great technical release for both picture & sound, Synapse Films might take a little bit to release stuff but that’s because they aim for perfection & they prove once again they are the best at restoration when it comes to revisiting an older film.
Let’s discuss the special features from Synapse Films! “Audio Commentary” #1 with author Troy Howarth. This is more of a scene by scene track. He chats about what he sees on the screen then drops some information about it. He goes over the performances, locations, editing, sound, & production design during all of this. “Audio Commentary” #2 with author Derek Botelho & film historian David Del Valle. They chat about the writing, performances, music & visuals. They talk about it being promoted heavily by 20th Century Fox when it was released here. They go into detail about Dario Argento & his other work. Lots of information is shared during this track. Both are very different from each other but they are full of knowledge when it comes to this feature. They are the only bonus material on the UHD. The extras get their own blu ray disc so you can enjoy the film at it’s highest quality in 4K. “A Sigh from the Depths” is a little over 27 minutes. It has interviews with fans, authors, & film historians about the film. They chat about how Dario Argento got started & his early work. They talk about the impact & history of Suspiria. They bring up the influence & visual style of the production. They mention the themes & cast for it. They go over the locations & production design. They discuss the camera work & the stylized violence. They chat about the dangerous working conditions in Italian cinema & the instant recognition of the classic soundtrack. “Do You Know Anything About Witches?” is a little over 30 minute visual essay by Michael MacKenzie. He brings up his first experience with the movie. He talks about the impact Suspiria has had on him. He goes over Dario Argento’s career. He brings up some history from the feature. “Suzy in Nazi Germany” is a little over 8 minutes. It’s narrated by Marcus Stiglegger. It goes over & explores various German locations for Suspiria. It also has history about the spots used in the film. “Olga’s Story” is a little over 17 minute interview with actress Barbara Magnolfi. She chats about making the character her own & creating something different with it. She talks about how she got started in the business. She mentions getting her first gig. She chats about early roles & Italian cinema. She talks about how she got involved with Suspiria & her experience with Dario Argento. She mentions that she came up with her own look for it. She discusses training to dance & her relationships with the cast. She says it’s had a huge impact on her life & she still meets lots of fan from it. “International Classics “Breathing Letters” Original U.S. Release Opening Credits” is almost 2 minutes. There’s a nice variety of promotional material which includes 3 “TV Spots”, 4 “Radio Spots”, & 3 “Trailers” for Suspiria. It also includes a slipcover, reversible artwork, & a Synapse catalog booklet. When it comes to 4K, this is a must own & it belongs in every collection. This is easily one of my candidates for release of the year. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!