Movies like Suspiria were why screen capture was invented. It's great looking, and that right there is reason enough to see it again and again. This was my first time, and I'm totally going to buy this for my collection.
Suzy Bannion arrives in stormy nighttime Freiburg, Germany to attend a world famous ballet school. She arrives, soaking, at the doorstep just as Pat Hingle is dashing out of the school in a panic. Suzy tries to enter the building, but a frightened woman's voice on the other end of the intercom refuses to buzz her in. She slunks back to the taxicab and heads back into town, passing Pat sprinting through the woods.
Pat seeks shelter at the apartment of a fellow classmate. When Pat goes into the bathroom to freshen up, she's attacked through the window by an unseen assailant. The assailant stabs her repeatedly, then ties her and nooses her, leaving her on the topside of a stained glass skylight.
The glass breaks under Pat's weight, raining shards of glass upon her friend, and Pat falls, her neck snapping in the noose. It's a savage scene, but sublimely shot.
Suzy returns to the school the next morning. There students are abuzz because of last night's events, but it's an otherwise normal day of classes. She's told that her dorm room isn't ready, but is invited to stay with a classmate, Olga, at her apartment. Check out Olga's wallpaper.
The next day, Suzy comes across an old woman and a young boy in the hallway. The woman raises a shiny object, and Suzy's enchantment begins. Turns out, [Edited by JPX for giving away the film's big "secret"]
Suspiria is suspenseful, but the suspense sets in in a funny way. A lot of this has to do with the music. All of the scenes in which there's really any action playing out are carpeted wall to wall in music -- and it's not a quiet soundtrack, nor does it build up from quietude. It's a constant pulse and a pretty rapid tempo. Also, featuring glockenspiel, mandolin, and talking drum, it's energetic, almost festive. What's giving it the sinister edge is the menacing whisper, mostly just taunting us with noises, but occasionally snarling "WITCH!" or other scary words. Here's the first few minutes of the movie. Notice what the music does as Suzy's stepping outside of the airport, starting around 1:50.
The whole movie, there are these pockets of safety -- quiet scenes, no music. But as soon as we set foot in the world of witchcraft, that same theme keeps popping up, a leitmotif, the pace never changing -- it's as if we'd never catch the witches off-guard. They're always there, spitting doom at us from their rooms of ritual.
The soundtrack is done by Italian progressive rock group, Goblin (they're incorrectly cited as "the Goblins" in the credits). They wrote other Argento soundtracks, as well as the score for the European version of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead.
But as I mentioned above, what I found most satisfying were the visuals. Here, feast on some of these.
That last shot is probably my favorite in the whole movie and the best part of it isn't going to come across in a static image. It's a moving shot -- those balls got knocked off a table and are careening across the floor, the camera gliding behind them the whole way. It's breathtaking.
Also, dig on the aerial shot of the buildings right above it. Great location. This movie is a gallery of magical locations. You find it in the wallpaper, in the furniture, in the floor design. Suspiria is a playground for your eyeballs.
But the thing that leaps out the most is the color. Interior shots at night are saturated in reds, greens and blues. This is because the film was treated with the 3-strip Technicolor hoodly-woodly process. Characters moving from one side of the room to the other aren't just changing locations, they're swimming from one lake of pure color to another.
The movie is shot with an anamorphic lens which makes the image squeeze on the sides. It's a woozy effect, but I don't recall ever finding it distracting, just weird.
The vocal overdubbing, on the other hand, is a little distracting. It's an Italian flick, so a lot of the characters are speaking Italian, but not everyone is, and even the English dialogue is overdubbed in English. This is a little disappointing because the voice acting isn't very good and it's covering up what look like good performances. Scenes with entirely English dialogue aren't overdubbed and the actual performers are much, much better than the overdub actors.
But this is pretty much my only gripe and it's a really small one. This one's truly a masterpiece -- suitable for lovers of gore, as well as lovers of good filmmaking.