Suspiria (1977): “Do you know anything about… witches?”

HMM-suspiriaSometimes all you need in your film-watching life is a cheesy and gory horror film by a classic Italian director. Suspiria (1977) was directed by Dario Argento and is one of the staples of the giallo genre – defined as a murder mystery style of film, generally Italian-made, which contains a lot of blood, guts, and eroticism. Suspiria tells the story of Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) who joins a prestigious ballet academy in Freiburg, Germany. However, Suzy soon realises that the academy is a front for more mysterious and creepy circumstances as numerous dancers are murdered in horrendous ways.

I have loved Suspiria ever since I first saw it, back when I got into the giallo genre in a massive way. It’s one of those horror films where the story is definitely flawed, but it’s executed in such a convincing and charming manner that you can forgive it for its numerous problems. Dario Argento is probably one of my favourite directors of all time (at least, whilst he was in his prime), and you can’t fault a horror film with stellar direction. Additionally, the music by Italian progressive rock band Goblin is absolutely amazing (here’s the main theme as evidence).

But above all, the cinematography and art direction is really what makes me love Suspiria. The film is an exercise in lighting genius, with most scenes being shot in bright, saturated colourful light; the colour of which depends on the content of the scene. You would think that such bright, primary colours would make the film and its contents seem slightly cartoonish, but if anything, it makes the entire film feel like a nightmare come to life. The visuals are stunning and scary, and perfectly match the creepiness of the story.

Here are some of my favourite shots from Suspiria. As with the rest of my photo posts, the images are shuffled to somewhat mask the story. However, looking at these images is absolutely no substitute for actually watching the film, as the use of light and colour and how this changes between scenes is so dynamic and interesting in motion. If you haven’t seen Suspiria before, I would highly suggest escalating it on your watch-list.

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4/5
Watch the trailer here.

34 comments

  1. Fantastic review and what great screen shots. I’ve never actually seen Suspiria and it’s been on my watch list ever since……well…..it’s been on there for years.

    This is prompting me to watch it sooner rather than later πŸ™‚

    1. Suspiria is a great movie! You’ll love it!

      1. I will do!! I am going to watch it SO soon (right after The Seasoning House…)

        No in all seriousness I have been meaning to watch this for years!! I will let you both know what I think πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        1. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeet!!

        2. I am going to watch a movie called Everly today on my day off : )

          1. Sounds like a lovely day off πŸ™‚ did you watch it Pen?

            1. I did – it was just OK….. nothing to rush out to see (or spend ten bucks on a rental!!)

              1. Least you had a nice day off πŸ™‚ better than being in work (grrr!)

                Love Pen

                1. This is very true!!

                  #backtoworksucks

    2. Thanks heaps Emma! πŸ˜€ You should definitely watch this sooner rather than later, it’s a horror classic!

      1. I will do πŸ™‚

  2. I fully agree that this is a movie where the style rules over the storyline. The use of color, music and sound design is amazing. This is one I hope gets released in theaters again. Great ob

    1. Thanks heaps! πŸ˜€ I would love to see this on the big screen one day. There was a showing of it here a couple of years ago with Goblin doing the score live (or maybe it was Tenebre). I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t get to go!

  3. Beautiful film, doesn’t make a ton of sense but makes more sense than most giallos, if that makes sense.

    1. I would agree with that!

  4. I did a double take on the last picture because I briefly thought she had a massive moustache!

    1. Haha! It definitely does look like a big mo!

  5. Not surprised you love this one, Anna – seems your type of thing along with Rosemary’s Baby which I know you reviewed for me (and which a crazy troll just commented on the other day, actually. It was funny – he put nasty comments all over my blog). πŸ™‚ Anyway, classic film! Gotta love that Goblin score. πŸ™‚

    1. Haha! I just went and read that comment, what a piece of work! I’m sorry you had to deal with a crazy person like that. Do love a bit of Goblin though.

  6. Great movie! Great write up!!

    #gialloies

    1. Love those giallos! Great minds think alike EI! #mindsies

  7. Love this post! I think this movie is fantastic, and I really want to revisit it now after reading this.

    1. Thanks Brittani! πŸ™‚ Definitely agree with that, every time I look at the pictures I want to see the colourful lights in action again.

  8. Good write up! πŸ™‚

    But I’m afraid this is going to make me unpopular as I hated this film, and it is one of the very few I genuinely resent losing the two hours I spent watching it (the others being Bridesmaids and Jennifer’s Body).

    After years of it ranking highly in horror polls and the 5 star reviews I was bitterly disappointed but what I saw and wondered if this was the same film everyone else was raving over. Even the lovely Jessica Harper couldn’t save this for me. 😦

    Sorry folks, but I couldn’t find anything scary, interesting or praise worthy about this film at all. Horses for course etc… :-\

    1. Thanks! πŸ˜€ And wow! That’s definitely not a popular opinion, but horses for courses indeed. That’s just how I felt when I watched American Hustle and thought it was the worst thing I’d seen in the cinema for a very long time. Then I read everyone else’s reviews and thought I had seen a completely different film. It’s a really weird feeling!

      1. I’ve not seen that film! I’m boycotting Jennifer Lawrence films in protest of her winning the Best Actress Oscar over Emmanuelle Riva in 2013! 😑

        My parents bought the DVD of that film and they hated it too, and they usually enjoy that sort of film so either they are wrong too or it really is that bad! πŸ˜›

  9. Great selection of shots! This is one of the most gorgeous looking horror movies out there, I really hope they will never dare to remake it

    1. Thanks Sati! πŸ™‚ I can only imagine how bad a remake of this would be. I watched the Rosemary’s Baby remake and it was just terrible. If they ruin this as well I would be so upset!

  10. Those screen shots have me wanting to see the film straight away! Also, thanks for the intro to Goblin. Long ago in my student radio days, I loved the Italian prog rock band “I Teoremi”

    1. Thank you for introducing me to I Teoremi! I’m off to find that album right away. If you like Goblin’s music then I’d definitely suggest listening to the soundtrack to one of Argento’s other films called Tenebrae, it was done by some of the band members of Goblin and is actually amazing, I adore it. The main theme has been sampled so many times, so you might recognise it!

      1. I have bookmarked the video on Youtube! I’ll have to wait to listen to it, as unfortunately the internet at the flat we’re staying in is pretty shit. Fast internet is still a “new” thing in NZ, sigh.

  11. […] Happy 75th birthday to fabulousΒ gialloΒ genius Dario Argento for September the 7th! To celebrate, Lisa of Through the Shattered Lens wrote about her love for the opening scene of Suspiria (1977), which I also love. It really is one of the most perfect opening scenes in cinema in terms of setting the tone and creepiness level, with some of that gorgeous cinematography that I’ve already waxed lyrical about. […]

  12. […] light source consists of one colour, conveying a sense of danger and tension (see: Argento’s Suspiria (1977)). Some of the sumptuous visuals won’t be new to you if you’ve seen much of Dario […]

  13. Anonymous · · Reply

    The opening scene terrified me so much as a girl that I didn’t want to watch the rest. My mother forced me to see it through and I couldn’t go near a window for weeks! The whole atmosphere of the film was like a nightmare, and surreal things have always scared me more than the realistic.

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