BY MICHELLE MEDFORD
Year released: 1977
How it fared back then: This movie is the reason we know famed Italian horror director Dario Argento’s name. It didn’t do too well in box offices (its gross in Lira, the pre-Euro currency in Italy, converts to something between 1.5 to 2 million dollars US) and Argento was accused of misogyny and being too violent, though Joan Bennett, who played the film’s villainess, was nominated for a Saturn Award for her performance. The movie was also a hit with horror fans and quickly built Argento a loyal fanbase.
Why it’s lasted: In the years that followed Suspiria‘s release, the film picked up a cult following, and as Argento’s resume continued to grow, horror fans begin to realize there was nothing else quite like the director’s work. He was original, daring and smart. The film also alludes to several well-known Andersen, Perrault and Grimm fairytales, including Snow White, Bluebeard and Hansel and Gretel, among others, not just plot-wise but also visually, with higher doorknobs to make actresses seem child-like, symbolic set design and subtle visual cues.
Classic moment: If you don’t want me to spoil anything about the movie, skip what I’m about to describe. Within the first 15 minutes of the movie, we see one of the ballet school’s students fleeing from the school in the pouring rain, crying out something we can’t really understand. She plans to stay the night at a friend’s place but is attacked through the window in the bathroom. She’s stabbed and trashed through the stained-glass ceiling, falling until a telephone cable snaps tight around her neck mid-air. As if that wasn’t enough, the camera pans to her friend on the floor below, impaled by the fallen glass and fixtures, both of them smothered in bright-red blood.
Does it still hold up? Yes. A thousand times yes. I’d heard about how great this movie was before I watched it and hoped that wouldn’t influence me when I first saw it. As much as I didn’t want high expectations to ruin it, I also didn’t want to love it just because on paper, I should. I couldn’t help it; it instantly became a favourite. Anyone who’s a fan of horror (and strange, unique horror, at that) has a chance at loving this movie. I say chance, because it’s so bold, you could just as easily hate it. But like I said before, there’s nothing else like Argento, and this one’s hailed as his masterpiece.
Note: This iconic scene is a spoiler, but happens within the first 15 minutes of the movie.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBfaCOxwbs]