I’m into it. What an outrageously, bizarrely gorgeous movie. Schlocky ‘70s occult horror run through a technicolor prog rock prism of German Expressionism—the mind boggles! Why did Dario Argento make this! What the fuck! But since he has, it’s just gonna live forever in the minds of anyone who sees it, apparently. Added to some neon attic antechamber in our gothic heads. A horror film of the pulpy Italian giallo style, in English, set at a ballet school in Germany, in which our American heroine is menaced by evil dance witches. I mean, memorable.
Incidentally, I swear I saw an article header comparing this to Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming version (more on this in a mo) in which they said his was more immediately upfront about the fact that the school is run by evil dance witches. But I started watching this and within about a single minute the soundtrack was amazingly sing-hissing “WITCH!” at me in spare but regular intervals, so, no yeah I gotta say it’s pretty clear on the evil dance witches. Interestingly though, and this is a point on which I am led to believe Luca’s version will in fact differ, not a whole lot of dance actually going on at Argento’s Tanz Academy! Perhaps this is going to sound like someone who had a traumatizing yet formative experience with Black Swan—show of hands—but you give me ballet horror and I expect people’s bodies to be breaking. Turns out that’s not really the style of the gruesomeness here, it’s more great glugs of blood the color and thickness of candy apple red acrylic paint.
Suspiria is like a fairytale. Snow White or Bluebeard’s Wife sent off to a blood-colored mansion in the original Black Forest, the score full of eerie bell melodies and harsh whispering, plot stupid as hell but that’s not the point. It was too silly to be really terrifying, but it did scare me, in that way you’d get scared by things when you’re young. It almost felt like I was coming across indelible images that had marked me when I was a kid, some overtly frightening and others that had just unsettled and stuck with me the way things can. Like parts of old picturebooks you still remember.
Anyway I am very glad I’ve finally watched this. I’d been meaning to for years, since Bryan Fuller mentioned it as an influence on the highly visual and tonal way he built Hannibal (paint-as-blood to blood-as-paint is such a natural move). But yes, I finally sat down to see it because there’s a new Suspiria coming out I believe tomorrow. I don’t know what word Luca is using here, I don’t think it’s remake? Homage maybe? Haunting? What I do know is that it is going to be a TRIP, and that’s a Rock Fact.