My take on this brilliant low budget British film!
I have been banging on about this film for years. Well, not just the film, but Dario Argento as well. Unless you’re not a fan of horror films or at least horror films made way back in the 1970’s you will have heard of Argento and his high standing in the horror film community.
Since Suspiria is being remade and due for release next year in 2013, I was very interested in seeing it again. I had not seen the film in years. In fact it had been so long that I had forgotten the main plot point and the ending.
I found a blu-ray copy on LOVEFILM and put it on my ‘wish-list’ to see. It came in and I bullied my daughter into watching it with me while we ate our tea. To say I was surprised would be an understatement.
We watched a very young Jessica Harper (as Suzy Bannion the young ballet student) leave a German airport and attempt to get a taxi. As she goes to hail a taxi the heavens open and she is drenched to the skin in a matter of seconds. The approaching taxi’s all ignore her outstretched hand until she steps in front one to make it stop.
Once inside the cab she says the address she’s going to ‘something’ Strasse (I cannot for the life of me remember the actual name of the dammed street) the cab driver makes a big show of not understanding her. Finally he corrects her pronunciation after reading the address on a note that she shows him. He drives off and ignores her one attempt to talk to him.
In the first few minutes Argento has shown us the epitome of a ‘stranger in a strange land’ in this case it’s an American girl in Germany. Our sympathies lay with her before the film has truly begun.
Argento’s Suspiria is a mixed collage of colour that almost leaps from the screen. From the fuchsia shades of pink on the walls to the (this is the same shade used to represent blood) deep blue of the ‘hidden’ rooms in the ballet school. The film seems to bleed these colours. So much so that your eyes start to hurt from the over stimulation.
The scene following Suzy’s aborted attempt to gain entrance to the school is the first murder in the film. It is in actual fact a double murder and again it is a frenzy of colour that leaps from the screen through the entire scene. But it is here that I had my first shock of the evening.
I swear I don’t remember it being this loud when I saw it years before in the drive in. It might well be that the updating of the sound system is the culprit here. I am pretty sure that in the year 1977 when the film was originally released that the sound system used was not of Dolby Digital quality. I’m pretty sure it was the good old mono system that had been used since the first emergence of ‘talkies’ in film.
Unfortunately the music was too loud with the Dolby Digital sound system. Annoyingly I had to keep the TV remote in one hand so I could keep lowering and then raising the volume. The dialogue was so low between the actors that it seemed they were mumbling. I can only guess that when they remixed the soundtrack they didn’t bother to remix the looping that had been done when the film was originally dubbed.
In essence it ruined the film. The music that was so crucial to the feeling that Argento was trying to evoke actually just irritated and intruded on the film’s story. The very action of having to turn the dammed volume down every time the discordant and (let’s admit it) brilliant cacophony of sound came on was distracting. I found myself getting annoyed at a film that for years I’ve touted as being a top-notch horror film.
I can honestly say that apart from getting to see actress Joan Bennett in one of her later roles and a also very young Udo Kier (who was brilliant as the vampire elitist who get’s his teeth yanked out and it left in the sun to die) and as I mentioned before the young Jessica Harper.
I still think Dario is the master of Italian horror. He is in a sense the Takashi Miike of Italy. His films are full of the type of characters you would find if you visited the underbelly of any city. His ‘normal’ characters all treat these unfortunates poorly and it adds to the unease that you feel when you see them on the screen.
He is the ‘Godfather’ of gore. He used bucket loads of blood gleefully. I’m sure that I’ve read that Miike states that Argento was an influence on him and his film making style.
I can only hope that the remake due out next year loses none of the vibrancy of the original in the area of colour and that the sound issue is corrected. The music won high praise and awards at the time of its 1977 release. It will be a shame if the too loud music ruins the new version of the film like it ruined the blu-ray version.
Either way, I know I’ll be queueing up to see it when it comes out.
- Movie Discussion: Dario Argento’s Phenomena (1985) (girlmeetsfreak.com)
- Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005) (cinemaroll.com)
- Waiting for Freshly Pressed: A Timeline (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Commercial Break: Suspiria! (1977) (theeyeoffaith.com)
- Something Different (hintmag.com)
Sat, 25 August 2012 1554 – I post a pithy post (say that fast three times, I dare you) on Freshly Pressed and have a moan about my comments not showing up in the Freshly Pressed comment section.
Sat, 25 Aug 2012 15:59:40 – Get an email from Cheri Lucas telling me that my urban exploration post had been picked for Freshly Pressed.
Sat, 25 August 2012 1600 I try to tell my daughter that I’m going to be Freshly Pressed. She is playing a game on her vita and has her earplugs in. I decide not to wait for her to get to a save point and start playing MOW3 to keep me occupied.
Sat, 25 August 2012 1700 I try re-reading the email and inadvertently delete it. In a state of panic I almost hurt myself trying to retrieve it and re-save it.
Sat, 25 August 2012 2359 I decide to go to bed and stop checking the Freshly Pressed page every two minutes. Despite my excitement and paranoia about my post not going up yet, I drop right off to sleep.
Sun, 26 August 2012 – 0630 I wake up early because the temperature has dropped and I am freezing to death. I go downstairs for a drink and a quick look at my laptop. My post isn’t up yet, as I am half asleep, I don’t spend too long on the site. I opt to go back to sleep.
Sun, 26 August 2012 – 1030 I wake up for the second time of the morning. Warmer and better rested I go downstairs to see if I’ve been posted yet. Checking the page and no, not yet.
Sun, 26 August 2012 – 1100 I decide to check the Freshly Pressed page again and see that a new post has been added, but, it’s not mine.
Sun, 26 August 2012 – 1130 I start hyperventilating slightly as I look for the fourth time at the Freshly Pressed page. I decide that it was a mistake or a practical joke (who says I’m paranoid, who?) which I decide would serve me right after my ‘snarky’ post about not being Freshly Pressed.
Sun, 26 August 2012 – 1200 I make the decision to not check the FP page every half hour. I decide that I’ll just relax and not get so impatient, a trait that after 53 years of living I still cannot rid myself of.
Sun, 26 August 2012 – 1230 I totally disregard my earlier decision to not check the FP page half hourly and check again. I go upstairs and talk to my daughter for a half hour in an attempt to keep my mind off of the fact that another post has been put on the wall and again, it’s not mine.
Sun, 26 August 2012 – 1300 I now decide that I probably should have replied to Cheri’s email. I set down and because of my increasing paranoia that this is some kind of horrible karma or bad joke it takes me 14 minutes to write a simple email.
Sun, 26 August 2012 – 1330 I go outside and sit with my daughter in the lovely sunshine. My contribution to the conversation is minimal. Why? Because I’ve seen another post on the wall that is, again, not mine.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1400 I finally decide that this whole thing is a wicked joke, serendipity, or just ironic. I finally decide that it must be the real deal. Hyperventilating slightly, I check to make sure that I sent an email to Cheri thanking her and expressing my excitement.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1430 I make a snack and while I am eating it, I compulsively keep checking the Freshly Pressed wall for my post. I discover that I’ve given up the ‘not checking every half hour’ and I am now checking it every few minutes.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1500 I finally decide that I am a truly sad individual to keep checking the bloody page. It will get posted when it gets posted, so stop checking dammit.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1515 I decide to do this timeline and about halfway through I mistakenly hit the wrong key and lose half of the timeline. cursing wildly I try to find an earlier draft. There isn’t one so I have to re-write half the post over.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1557 Pausing for a moment to give my poor fingers a break, I notice I’ve gotten another email notification. I check it and it’s from Cheri. She tells me it will be late this evening or early tomorrow when my post will be added to the wall. I relax, a bit, and send a hasty email back thanking her.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1600 I am now more relaxed and a bit calmer. The excitement is still making me a bit giddy (giddy?? Did I just say that a 53 year old man was giddy?? I must be if I’m describing myself that way) but now that I’ve had a ‘confirmation’ email from Cheri, I’m hoping that my pithy whiny post has been forgiven.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1700 Get another email from Cheri, so now I’m definitely feeling like this is going to happen. I still cannot stop looking at the FP page and then refreshing it to see if my post is up yet.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1800 Finally decide to make tea or at least to think about making tea. As we are both peckish it seems like a good idea. I check the wall yet again.
Sun, 26 August 2012 1900 –2230 Put the dinner dishes in the kitchen, watched the rest of the film and talked about it for a long while after eating. We then load up Netflix and then Lovefilm and start watching Crazy Eights, a low budget horror film.
Sun, 26 August 2245 – 2330 I put the dishes in the sink and start washing up, still haven’t looked at the FP page. I am very proud of myself.
Sun, 26 August 2359 – 0100 I fall asleep in my chair after doing the dishes and ‘old man’ thing that drives me to distraction. I check the page again and find that four more posts have gone up. Again none of them mine. Decide to go to sleep and not look at the FP page till later this morning. I feel like a kid at Christmas waiting to open up my presents, excited and just as impatient.
Mon, 27 August 0930 – Get up and stumble down stairs half asleep and thirsty. Turn on the laptop and gulp down some squash. I come in and click on my WordPress link. My post has exploded! It’s finally happened, it is up!! Now I am too excited to do anything else but keep checking the view counts and follower counts (which I need to keep track of so I can follow back) and ‘likes’ and comments.
Thanks Cheri Lucas and Word Press! You’ve made my day! 😀
- Freshly Pressed, Hold the Wrinkles (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- I was Freshly Pressed! Here’s Why. (communicateskills.com)
- What Makes a Post Freshly Press-able? The Frailest Thing (thebishopreview.com)
- Freshly Pressed (pamelahesterking.wordpress.com)
- What Makes a Post Freshly Press-able? Literature and Libation (dailypost.wordpress.com)
- From Freshly Pressed to Fluoride (thelifeofkylie.com)
- What Makes a Post Freshly Press-able? A Recipe For Attention (theladyexpounds.wordpress.com)
- Freshly Pressed! (cookingwithcorinna.wordpress.com)
- Freshly Pressed! (1kthoughts.wordpress.com)
- I’ve been Freshly Pressed! (destashio.wordpress.com)