Ask someone to describe Dario Argento’s Suspiria, and the first thing they mention will likely be the colors. Suspiria’s film print was one of the last to be struck in the Technicolor imbibation process (also used by The Wizard of Oz, another famously colorful film about witches),
Tag: Dario Argento
Slow, plodding xylophone mallets pace the viewer’s heartbeat as Suzy Bannion makes her way into the frame, shrouded in black, face bouncing off yellow light, mascara projecting her eyeball out of the celluloid. With bated breath, she spies on a witch’s coven performing the rites of its leader, the yet-unseen Helena Markos, queen witch of the hellish Tanz Dance Academy. Because her peers have already met unlucky fates, she remains an attractive victim—horror movie precedent does not excuse a protagonist from impending death. Dario Argento stretches the suspense, loosely protecting Bannion with curtain as she watches her potential murder unfold, replete with unheimlich doppelgangers, blood-streaked Nosferatus, and reptilian skin piercings. Suspiria boasts impressive pacing because there are no jump scares, just dread until it happens.
By 1985, Dario Argento had already become synonymous with the macabre and had established himself as a dominant force in international genre cinema. Prior to that year’s release of PHENOMENA (later re-titled CREEPERS in the US), Argento had titillated and terrified audiences worldwide with films like BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970), DEEP RED (1975) and SUSPIRIA (1977); but none of this could have prepared audiences for PHENOMENA, which features his most sinister sequence of all: Jennifer Connelly eating baby food with a tooth brush. And that’s just in the first act.
Requiring nary the merest of introductions to anyone remotely familiar with genre cinema of the past few decades, Dario Argento has become synonymous with the macabre and a rather special brand at that. Having spent much of his early directorial career working within – and perhaps refining – the Italian giallo film, Argento went decidedly supernatural for his first part in the Three Mothers trilogy: SUSPIRIA.