Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Dario Argento is a master of both horror and visually stunning films, and this film is a near perfect example of both. Hell, according to Scr4am you’re not a real horror fan until you own this, right? Well, I might have to agree with that one. Suspiria is considered a classic for good reason, so yeah if you don’t have this you need to add it to your library. That’s a fact. The questions is: is this new Blu-ray from Synapse the version to get? Well, let’s find out.
The story revolves around Jessica Harper (of Phantom of the Paradise fame) as an American ballet student who goes to Germany to attend a prestigious dance academy. Once there, a whole bunch of weirdness – and murder – begins to happen. This includes, but is not limited to, maggots falling from the ceiling, dog attacks, Dario Argento’s patented brand of over-the-top kills, a room full of razor wire to play in, black magic, witchcraft, and more. There is a mystery to be solved here, but really, the plot is not that coherent. I have often heard this movie called dream-like, and that is true, but I do think of that as the nice way of saying that this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. So those who can’t let that go might be bummed out here. But like every Argento film, the movie looks great and is a treat for the eyes that few other films can even come close to. For sure there are layers to be peeled on this onion that promotes more than one viewing, but really for me it’s all about the art of this film. How it looks, how it moves, how it sounds. I can forgive it a bit of nonsensical weirdness for the cinema experience it delivers. There’s else nothing quite like Suspiria, not even Argenot’s other Three Mothers movies. And to be sure, there are more than a few legitimately creepy moments in here. Like I said, it’s a classic for a reason.
But now let’s talk about looks. No one is as a stickler of visual detail and beauty as Synapse, and no one uses color like Argento. So the marriage of these two here is a match made in heaven. This film looks amazing, simply breathtaking, and is easily the best this gorgeous film has ever looked. And it should, considering the amount of effort Synapse put into this release, such as a new 4K transfer from the uncut and uncensored Italian 35mm negative. If that wasn’t enough, the color correction was supervised and approved by the original director of photography of Suspiria, Luciano Tovoli. Not that is amazing and every bit of the extra effort is fully on display here.
So the movie looks great, but how are those special features that Synapse added to this new Blu-ray release? Well, there are two audio commentary tracks. One is with Argento scholar Troy Howarth and the other is with another Argento scholar, Derek Botelho, and film scholar David Del Valle. Then there is a second Blu-ray just for more extras. There is a “40 Years with Suspiria” that runs a half an hour. There is a visual essay about witches and witchcraft that is also a half an hour. There is an eight-minute featurette about Suzy being in Nazi Germany, which is a bit of WWII history for you. There is an interview with Barbara Magnolfi, who played Olga, that runs for 17 minutes. There is the original U.S. opening credits, the one with the breathing letters. I love that. There is also the original theatrical trailers, original U.S. television spots, and original U.S. radio spots. That’s a lot of extra bang for your buck.
Suspiria is a wonderful film and it has never looked better. Synapse needs to be commended for the amount of work they put into this release and this is by far and away the version of this movie to own. They do not get any higher recommended than this. This is a must-have.