Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Suspiria

(1977) *** 1/2



Abduscias already reviewed this film this year, and admittedly it's been on my list of stuff to check out since surviving last year's Horrorthon viewing experience with JSP. Also he's got a Suspiria t-shirt and that was enough to get me intrigued.

My only experience with Argento until now was Giallo, and I recall the only satisfying element was watching Adrien Brody hunt down the bad guys. My primary critique of movies like Giallo is that it glorifies the objectification of women as helpless victims that is SO typical for scary movies, but gets SO boring after its nth viewing. I agree that women make GREAT victims – they've got tiny delicate hands that are ideal for grabbing, flippy long hair perfect for yanking, big helpless-looking eyes add a unique element of terror, and high-pitched squeals that manage to explode everybody's eardrums except the killer's.

This movie does not have Brody in it -- although the blind piano man bears a strong resemblance.
  
Suzy Bannion arrives from New York to begin school at a dance academy. She gets more than she bargained for as uptight Italian dance instructors boss her around and suspicious-looking Romanian servants stalk the hallways. There's one viejita* in particular – the one walking around with the little boy – that I wish had more screen time and character development; but, as was previously established, there are certain things that get sacrificed for Horrorthon.

As the body count rises our protagonist pays a visit to her roommate's psychiatrist to find out more about the roommie's disappearance, where black magic is explored as a part of the whole mystery. The reason why this scene is so memorable to me is the answer provided by the psychiatrist when Suzy asks about witchcraft: “I'm convinced that the current spread of the belief in magic and the occult is a part of a mental illness. Bad luck isn't brought by broken mirrors, but by broken minds.Well put! Did you get that last piece of insight from a fortune cookie?
 




Example of a broken mind?
Broken Wings. Take them. Please.
 
I didn't expect to be so taken with the artistic qualities of the film (I'd heard it was “artistic,” but I thought that was in reference to the nature of the murders, not the directing and set). 

First of all, it's very 70s, from the eerie soundtrack and rich colors to the groovy decorated school where the murders take place. I like the Escher wall painting with birds and fish but unfortunately it's all just setup for a very disturbing, fatal encounter. I was not as terrified as I had prepared myself to be, so in that aspect I was a lil' disappointed. This movie wasn't forgettable but I'm going to wait awhile before I see it again.

*By the way, viejita is Spanish for the colloquial term “old biddy.”

The bottom line is that ballerinas die horrible tragic unjustified deaths and you should never trust old fat Greek women.

9 comments:

Johnny Sweatpants said...

"I agree that women make GREAT victims – they've got tiny delicate hands that are ideal for grabbing, flippy long hair perfect for yanking, big helpless-looking eyes add a unique element of terror, and high-pitched squeals that manage to explode everybody's eardrums except the killer's."

Hilarious!

Excellent stuff Crystal! This is only your second review but it feels like you've been writing them for years. In some ways I'm sad that I didn't watch this with you but it's probably for the best as you were able to record your natural, unbiased reaction.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

And since you mentioned "viejitas" you're now obligated to review Homebodies.

Crystal Math said...

Exactly my thought, JSP! The viejita on the cover reminds me of Ruth Gordon from "Harold and Maude." Looks very welcoming ;-)

Octopunk said...

I also applaud the observation on why victimizing women is awesome. And the observation that Mr. Mister causes bad luck and mental illness.

JPX said...

"you should never trust old fat Greek women." Excellent.

Crystal Math said...

@Octo: My observation on why women make great victims is more of a plea towards horror movie directors to strive for something different. I know I haven't seen nearly as many horror movies as anyone here, but the trend is noticeable and like I said it gets boring :-P

I just want to see a more diverse group of people being victimized; is that too much to ask? A CEO here, a football player there? haha

JPX said...

Nah, I only want to see pretty girls in my horror movies.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I agree with Crystal - women are sexy!

I can't recall a CEO ever getting offed in a horror movie (Death Note?)but football players have gotten their share of killings in the Friday the 13th movies.

Argento definitely has a fetish for torturing beautiful women; he filmed his own daughter's rape scene in The Stendahl Syndrome. However he also has made several movies where women turn out to be the killers (including Suspiria).

50PageMcGee said...

my most recent flick (haven't reviewed yet) features a CEO that gets whacked. totally satisfying.