Essays · Movies

31 Days of Horror: Suspiria

By  · Published on October 30th, 2010

When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline.

Synopsis: An American girl named Suzy (Jessica Harper) joins a prestigious dance academy in Germany only to find that it’s run by a coven of witches who enjoy making the technicolor blood run from the still-beating hearts of their victims.

Killer Scene: Suspiria is without a doubt the best work from horror master Dario Argento, and that means it’s populated by dozens of killer scenes. It’s incredibly difficult to find one that stands out from the other stellar examples, but the opening kill is one that makes a mark on the rest of the movie. Pat, the student our American hero sees fleeing the Academy on a stormy night, is assaulted at a friend’s apartment, ripped out of a window, stabbed repeatedly, her heart is vividly cut through, and she’s dropped through a plate glass sky light as a noose tightens around her throat. Cheering loudly after that scene is the appropriate response.

Kill Sheet

Violence: The violence of this film is still a bit too much for audiences to handle. Argento went into this production with a reputation for graphic brutality, and he emerged from it even more famous (and banned in Germany). There’s the aforementioned Killer Scene, a man’s throat is ripped out by a dog, another girl is trapped in a room full of razor wire, her dead body attacks Suzy, and an ancient witch gets hers in the neck. Plus, a huge building goes up in flames. The sheer amount here doesn’t seem daunting, but the way Argento films everything, he might as well be pouring blood and viscera directly into your lap.

Sex: There’s an inherently sexual nature to all things witchy and all things ballet academy-y. However, instead of having nudity in the movie, Argento opted instead for an orgy of blood and violence.

Scares: Beyond the violence, the movie creates a fearful environment in its opening shots of Suzy landing in a strange country that’s experiencing the most unnaturally severe rain storm in its local history. That fear is kept at a fever pitch throughout the entire film, and it’s maintained by the deaths strewn throughout and the creepy performance (sadly her last) turned in by Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc.

Final Thoughts: There are few films better than Suspiria and few films more celebrated by those of the horror persuasion. That pedestal has the frequency to place films too high up, especially for modern audiences, but almost four decades later, this film still forces its way into your psyche and your little rotten heart.

If you haven’t seen it, don’t tell anyone. Rent it immediately, jam to the iconic score by Goblin, and enjoy the feast that Argento has prepared for your senses.

Wipe the blood off your hands and read more 31 Days of Horror entries by clicking below:

Related Topics:

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.