Today's Pick: Suspiria (1977)
I've only recently begun to churn through the works of Italian horror-meister Mario Bava, and I find myself in love with his lurid and often comic book-like use of color and light. It's no wonder that his student, Dario Argento, brings that same kind of vivid visual style to his early films. Suspiria was the first Italian horror movie I ever saw, and for many, it is the country's gold standard. I'm not well-educated enough in the sub-genre to agree or disagree, but I can recognize that Suspiria makes for a very strong argument.
The setup is pretty nifty: a prestigious ballet academy in Germany is actually a front for a coven of witches. Suzy Bannion (the drop dead gorgeous Jessica Harper) is an American student who has just arrived, and as her fellow students begin to disappear, she uncovers the horrific truth behind it all. All of this is amplified by lots of inventive murders and stunning photography.
It's impossible to talk about Suspiria without lauding the look of the film. I love that Argento (and from what I've seen of Bava so far) isn't afraid of the fact that he's making a film with fabricated sets and effects. In fact, they amplify those aspects to a point where they become part of the style of the film. The blood is always hot red (Italian genre films have the best blood), and there's moments in the movie that look like they are being staged as a play. Along with the phatasmagorical lighting, this creates images that will stick in your brain forever.
The other lasting element from the film is the chilling score by Goblin. There are certain pieces of art that just collide perfectly with whatever collaboration they are a part of, and Goblin's score is a prime example. The raspy vocalizations add to the supernatural aura of the picture, feeling like incantations themselves. Coupled with the striking imagery, you could probably turn the dialogue off for chunks of the movie and just get swept up into a nightmarish music video.
And since I haven't made explicit mention of it, Suspiria is scary. There is one image near the end of the film that I considered posting in this article, but I can't even look at ti because it gives me such a bad case of the willies (hint: the thing behind the door). Halloween is often a time of ghoulish visages mixed with sharp colors. No film better fits into that criteria than Suspiria.
Tomorrow's flick is just as colorful but much more wacky. It features the one movie star who you must watch every Halloween. Can you guess who I'm talking about? See you then!
31 Days of Drew 2 (2014)
31 Days of Drew (2013)