Dario Argento




Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci


Colour 98 mins

A film by Dario Argento known for his florid horror shows. It stars American actress Jessica Harper as a young ingenue who comes to study at a German dance academy. But this is a dance academy with a dark and fantastic secret. She will follow the clues to the centre of the web of evil.

This is a horror film. More showy than a Hammer shocker, but of that ilk. A number of victims are mysteriously murdered. The heroine finds it hard to make the outside world believe her. Alone she has to face down the evil. That summary may be enough to stop people watching "Suspiria".

What lifts this above the stock shocker is the pacing, the use of sound and colour. Goblin's rock music makes audible the witchly intimidation and menace. The overloaded colours expose an inner tortured world. Jessica's taxi ride to the academy presage the violence to come, presage her journey to the heart of darkness.

So is "Suspiria" just slasher entertainment for the arthouse? Curiously there are old-fashioned morals amidst the mayhem. Innocence triumphs over corruption and greed. But "Suspiria" is a film to experience not to analyse. IMHO.

The climax of the film is surrealist and transcendental - like Jessica we have reached a place of symbols which we cannot decode. A trip to take.