It’s October, the month of Halloween and what would be more clichéd than doing a countdown of top horror films, so fully admitting to being a walking cliché, I will be doing a series of blogs running down the films in my own personal top 20. Here’s the previous blogs for numbers 20, Audition, 19, Night of the Demon, 18, Zombie Flesh Eaters, 17, Last House on the Left, 16, The Beyond, 15, An American Werewolf in London, 14, [REC], 13, Don’t Look Now, 12, Event Horizon , 11, Cannibal Holocaust, 10, The Wicker Man, 9, Halloween, 8, The Blair Witch Project, 7, Hellraiser, 6, The Evil Dead series and 5, The Exorcist.
Now it’s a film which in a different week, and a different mood would be # 1. It’s Dario Argento’s utterly fucking glorious Suspiria.
A brief synopsis from IMDB.
A newcomer to a fancy ballet academy gradually comes to realize that the school is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of grisly murders.
The ‘newcomer’ is played by Jessica Harper, an actress who really, really, really should have been a massive star but somehow never made it to the A List, but she did make three great genre films, The Phantom of the Paradise, Shock Treatment and of course Suspiria.
The plot is again just a skeleton to hang on a series of amazingly constructed murders that are all stunningly gory in their execution, not to mention framed like works of art as Argento composes his frames brilliantly.
There’s a lot of red in this film. An awful, awful lot of red and it’s not just the stylised blood but the lighting, set design and pretty much everything as Argento uses the colour to unsettle the viewer.
It’s probably the most stylised film I’ve picked, not to mention the film that’s the most beautiful to look at even when the violence (and there’s a lot of violence) is happening on screen to the sound of a pumping Goblin soundtrack.
I first saw the film when I was living in Glasgow at some late night double bill with something else, but I don’t remember what the other film was as by the time I’d finished watching Suspiria the other film didn’t matter. the film utterly won me over from the start to the insane finish that really needs to be seen to be believed.
I adore the film as you’re all smart enough to have worked out by now. It’s a much, much better film than some more celebrated horror films. Why? Because it’s not scared to be a horror film rather than a psychological thriller or anything the media likes to dress horror films up because they’re the bastard genre of cinema.
Suspiria is almost the perfect distillation of what a horror film should be, or at least, what a very European horror film should be. Sadly after this Argento only made a few more good films before slipping into decline with only the odd thing popping up that harks back to former glories. Nothing though tops Suspiria. It’s nearly perfect. There are however three more positions to go…
Next time, let’s spend the night together…