SUSPIRIA: LIMITED EDITION
Review by Michael Jacobson
Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett, Udo Kier
Director: Dario Argento
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, DTS 6.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes
Release Date: September 11, 2001
must vanish…she must die, die, DIE!”
Argento’s Suspiria is a perfect example of how a horror movie with
atmosphere and style can overcome its imperfections. What this picture lacks in cohesive storytelling, it more
than makes up for with sheer chutzpah. Argento’s
fluid filmmaking style, sense of color and contrast, and deliberately
disorienting sense of editing are the reasons this film remains a fan favorite.
his strange sense of close-ups, for example.
If you bring a camera too close an object, anything can seem threatening
and disjointing, whether it’s a design on a wall or a mechanism that operates
an automatic door. Consider also
his daring in introducing his main character, Suzy Banyon (Harper) in a few
opening shots, then breaking away from her AND the film’s location for a set
piece that only serves the narrative in the loosest way possible.
set piece, described by Entertainment Weekly as “the most vicious
murder scene ever filmed”, is a work of maniacal genius, as a student escaping
from the very dance school Suzy has shown up to attend is dispatched of in a
marvel of a gigantic house with art-deco designs, high ceilings, and
glass…lots of glass. It’s
sadistic and unsettling, yet in a gruesome way, hypnotic and beautiful…a
visual play of colors, editing and camerawork set to droning music that really
pushes the stylistic envelope.
at the school, Suzy is having
problems…a strange cook with a flashy utensil seems to have made her sick and
unable to perform…the wine they serve her doesn’t seem to help any.
Maggots drip from the ceilings. The
mistresses of the school, Madame Blanc (Bennett) and Miss Tanner (Valli) seem to
leave the school every night after the girls go to bed…but do they?
and her friend Sara (Casini) soon stumble onto a mystery that leaves one of them
dead, and the other face to face with the horrible truth about their school and
the women behind it.
film doesn’t really scare…at least, not to me…but it does create a
wonderful sense of atmosphere and suspense that keeps the viewer firmly
entrenched. It’s a technical
marvel of a film, and Argento’s direction and Luciano Tovoli’s amazing
cinematography are the real stars…not the two dimensional characters nor the
sometimes rambling and incoherent story. The
technique is the attraction, and in this case, it’s more than enough.
Bay’s recent DVD release of Suspiria marks the full, uncut and unrated
98 minute version of the film…it has been falsely reported (even in
periodicals as reliable as Leonard Maltin’s) that a 107 minute version exists.
This is partly because of the trailer tagline (“the only thing more
terrifying than the last 12 minutes of this film are the first 92”), which was
merely a case of bad arithmetic equating to a longer running time.
There has never been a version longer than 98 minutes, although there
have been plenty of shorter ones, even versions cut to as short as 88 minutes.
98 minute version is complete, and pure Argento from start to finish (translate:
not for the squeamish). Suspiria
became the first movie to really open the eyes of the world to Italian
horror, and this DVD presentation definitely demonstrates why.
THX certification is nice, but Anchor Bay’s logo is really what equates to
quality. This is a remarkable
anamorphic transfer that never falters, keeping Argento’s widely varying and
expressive color scheme intact, with true blacks, no grain, and no distortion.
Only a couple of exterior shots of the school’s front show a bit of
over-enhancement…otherwise, consider this another home run offering from
Anchor Bay, who continues to be the horror/cult movie fan’s best friend.
studio is also noted for its bold and well-constructed surround remixes; Suspiria
is no exception. Dolby Digital
and DTS listeners with extra speakers will enjoy enhanced digital surround,
which includes plenty of ambient effects (storms, crowds, etc.) and a dynamic
presentation of Goblin’s famed score that enjoys a multi-channel
orchestration. The dynamic range is
strong and the audio is clear…dialogue (most of which was post-dubbed anyway)
is never a problem. All in all, a
quality, experience enhancing listen.
limited edition 3 disc set includes all of the disc one features of the standard
release (two trailers, TV spot, radio spots, Daemonia music video, gallery and
talent bios), plus two more discs of extras.
Disc two features Suspiria: 25th Anniversary, a brand
new documentary containing interviews with Argento and other key cast and crew
members. It runs 52 minutes, and is
a good piece. Disc three is a real
treat…a full CD recording of Goblin’s score.
It’s 45 minutes long and a great listen…I would have liked something
in the package that listed its 11 tracks, though.
addition, there is a nicely prepared booklet with essays, interviews and
pictures, plus a sealed set of lobby card reproductions.
This is definitely a package fans will want to check into.