For whatever reason, I've always been scared of dancing. I enjoy music, but my body cannot translate rhythm into physical motions. I've always been a wallflower unless a pretty girl convinces me to come out to the dance floor. Because of this dancing phobia, I've always been disinterested in dance movies... until I saw Black Swan.
Natalie Portman made me realize the art of ballet is quite fascinating - It involves a harsh lifestyle that tests the limits of the mind and body. After watching Black Swan, I have utmost respect for dancers and started watching classic musicals such as the Red Shoes and Singing in the Rain. My excitement for musicals has faded since, but my little sister reinvigorated my interest in the art form after watching her dance recital last weekend. However, I've been wanting to watch a horror movie as well, so I decided to go back and watch one of those TCM Underground films I could barely stay awake to - Suspiria (When I fell asleep, it wasn't because the movie was boring, but because I had a long day at work)
Suspiria is a 1977 Italian Giallo horror film by Dario Argento. When American Suzy Bannion (played by Jessica Harper) arrives at a German Dance Academy, she is greeted by a distressed girl who is whispering and fleeing from the school. Although Suzy couldn't make out what the girl was whispering, she knows things aren't right - She suffers from sickness, people around her are mysteriously murdered, and the school is possibly run by a coven of witches. Will Suzy be able to survive this house of horror and uncover the truth behind the fleeing girl's whisper?
Stylistically, this is a beautiful movie. The sets are crafted with extraordinary colors and architecture. Although most of the scenery is covered with wallpaper I'd never put up in my house, it suits the antiquity of the film. Another unique feature is the lighting. Colorful lights illuminate the screen and switch like a traffic light, informing the audience how their mood should change throughout the film.
Although this movie has an artistic flair, we have to remember it is a horror film. The death scenes are horrific, containing nooses, razor blades, and dog bites. Before the deaths occur, the musical score by Goblin starts to play, having a similar sound to Tubular Bells from The Exorcist. However this music is more frightening because it contains foreign sounds and creepy whispers in the background.
My favorite horror movie as of late is House of the Devil. Ti West's film isn't set in a dance studio (although it has an awesome dancing scene), but there are some similarities between the films. They both feature beautiful brunettes who have to enter and survive a haunted house. Both protagonists encounter brutal and bloody deaths. Finally, both pictures have creepy old witches that will give you nightmares.
This film doesn't contain as much dancing as Black Swan (although Natalie Portman was rumored at one time to star in a remake of Suspiria), but it's still artistically haunting to watch. Suspiria isn't for everyone, but if you are a lover of horror, you will enjoy this flick.
So on Death List Five, Suspiria ranks #4.