August 13, 1977 [Suspiria]

I had a few used paper napkins in my hand and pushed them past the little swiveling lid of the kitchen waste-can--and plunged my fingers into something dank and grainy, cold and clinging. I drew out my hand in disgust: coffee grounds was all, but for a moment there it was nothing but corruption, coating my good hand and turning it into something else.

Suspiria is almost a Hitchcock movie, but it's also a big neon mess, bright and shrieking like violins in a wood chipper--or violinists, the whole string section pushed in. The director, Dario Argento, has done this at least one other time: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Tony Musante--pretty good as a TV cop over the last few years--also caught in an Italian-opera/acid-rock thriller, Vertigo without the pretty City by the Bay. But in Suspiria it's a Gothic Happening in a dancing-school run by secret witches with really sharp objects and bugs and one unhinged dog. The plots of both films don't seem to make sense--but is that because they're edited with that chipper, or just because? I was too jangled by all the fog and filth to keep up--just sat there and let the young girls get it, screaming in ultra-cool saturated colors, mostly reds.

It's as if the horror movie has nothing left but nasty shocks and style, like a nice soft glove with something wet inside.


  1. Dario, knowing how to wrench viewers from one state of mind to another using sudden floods of color and sound, does not give us much agency in our apprehension of the film... he'd rather grab us by the emotional strings like puppets and flop us around in his garish little theater. What an experience, though!

  2. Yeah, I've watched it I think three times, and that might be two-and-a-half times too many. But I can't hate it--and Jesse M, the theater reference is right: I can almost see the too-red curtain opening--holy smoke! Have we stumbled on Lynch territory, the "Silencio" of surreal cinema?


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