Review Date: September 11, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 9/11/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
Susy Banyon (Jessica Harper) decides to perfect her ballet studies by joining the most famous academy of dance in Europe. She leaves New York early one morning and arrives in Germany at 10:40 p.m. that night to dark and stormy weather. There she hails a taxi and heads to the academy. When she arrives, Susy sees a distraught woman run from the building, whispering about irises and secrets. Susy rings the buzzer, hoping to get inside, but is promptly told to leave by an unknown voice. As Susy is being drove away she sees the same distraught woman running through the woods. Later that night the distraught woman is brutally and mysteriously murdered in her apartment.
The next day Susy heads back to the academy, where she is greeted by Miss Tanner (Alida Valli), one of the instructors. Miss Tanner introduces Susy to Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett), the head of the academy. Madam Blanc gives Susy a warm welcome, but shocks her with some horrible news - Pat Hingle (Eva Axén), a recently expelled student from the academy, was murdered the previous night. As it turns out, Pat is the distraught woman Susy saw the previous night. Susy is then introduced to Olga (Barbara Magnolfi), a fellow student that Susy will be renting a room from in town.
One day, on her way to a dance practice, Susy becomes ill and lightheaded. Her dizziness becomes so extreme that she faints during practice. Susy awakens in one of the academy's bedroom. She discovers that all of her possessions have been moved into the academy. The doctor insists Susy stay at the academy instead of Olga's so she can get some much needed rest and relaxation. Susy befriends her new next door neighbor, Sara (Stefania Casini), a fellow student living at the academy.
One night, Susy and Sara discover that the teachers, whom they previously thought left the academy at the end of each day, are in fact going to some secret place in the academy. Sara listens and counts their footsteps, trying to discover where they go. In her investigation, Sara uncovers some potentially deadly information. She tries to share it with Susy, but Susy slips in and out of consciousness - an apparent result of being drugged. Before Susy slips into complete unconsciousness, she hears one final question from Sara - "Susy, do you know about ... witches?" When Susy awakens, Sara is nowhere to be seen. Now Susy alone must use the one remaining clue to find Sara and unravel the mystery that is Suspiria.
Many years ago I bought my first laserdisc player. Being the excited young person I was, I bought or rented nearly every laserdisc I could find. One of my first laserdisc rentals was a movie titled Suspiria
. The laserdisc was released in 1989 and was touted as a Collector's Edition because of one special feature - it was presented in widescreen (back then widescreen was a special feature, even for laserdisc). Having never heard of Suspiria
, I wasn't expecting much. And I must admit, after my initial viewing, I wasn't blown away by Suspiria
. A few days passed and I realized I just couldn't get the score to Suspiria
out of my head. Not knowing how to proceed, I decided to give Suspiria
a second viewing. After the second viewing, I fell completely in love with Suspiria. It is without a doubt Dario Argento's masterpiece.
is a visual masterpiece. Dario Argento makes fantastic use of colors, creating a surreal environment for the viewer. Background colors and, what I consider to be, subliminal images, play a vital role in instilling a sense of fear into the viewer's subconscious. That, along with what is easily the creepiest score ever created, is what separates Suspiria
from the standard horror film. Goblin's score in Suspiria
is their finest work ever - it creates the perfect nail biting edge-of-your-seat atmosphere for the many suspenseful scenes in the film. I for one, truly become frightened as I watch the film. The reason is simple - Dario Argento's use of these elements is scary. Even during this review I find my heartbeat increasing as I watch the film.
As with most Argento films, gore fiends will not be disappointed with Suspiria
. Though not high in quantity, the gore scenes present are definitely satisfying. The film also boasts great acting, especially from Jessica Harper, who perfect portrays Lucy, the sweet, young and innocent American dancer.
Many fans claim that while Suspiria
is a visually beautiful film, it lacks a good story. I disagree entirely. I find the story more than satisfying. I prefer to not discuss the story much, as to not ruin it for anyone that has yet to see it. I will say this, it does move a bit slow in the first half of the film, but with the surreal environments and the superb score to help move things along, you'll find yourself engulfed by Suspiria
in no time. For many, Suspiria
may take a few viewings to fall in love with. So if you haven't already, give Suspiria
a try. Soak it all in, give it a few days, and then watch it again. Each time you watch the film, you'll notice more and more hidden aspects that make it the classic horror film it has become.
is presented in an anamorphic THX certified widescreen transfer in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. And what a transfer it is - simply gorgeous. Boasting strong, solid colors (extremely important for a highly visual film like Suspiria
), accurate flesh tones, and a razor sharp image, this transfer is easily the best Suspiria has ever looked. No grain or artifacts were present, and only a few blemishes were visible - literally 1 or 2 specks of dirt on the print, hardly worth mentioning. Very impressive; scoring the transfer with an A-.
Included soundtracks are English Dolby Surround EX, Surround 2.0, and 6.1 DTS-ES, Italian Surround 2.0, and French Surround 2.0. The track I reviewed with is the English Dolby Surround EX, which is quite impressive. The score and effects get ample activity on surrounds; the LFE activity is quite good also. The dialogue is crystal clear; no distortion is present. This track really helps build and enhance the atmosphere in Suspiria
, and even helps increase the already high fear factor present in the film.
This limited edition release of Suspiria
is a total of 3 discs - 2 DVDs and 1 CD (the original Goblin soundtrack CD). The first DVD is, of course, the movie and the standard extras that are present in both the limited and non-limited DVD. The second DVD contains the "Suspiria 25th Anniversary" 52-minute documentary, and it's available only in the limited edition. It contains retrospective interviews with writer/director Dario Argento, co-writer Daria Nicolodi, actresses Jessica Harper and Stefania Casini, actor Udo Kier, director of photography Luciano Tovoli, and various members of Goblin. It's broken up into various sections with members of the cast and crew discussing the story, the director, the stars, the score, the style, favorite scenes, and looking back. It's quite fascinating overall - definitely something fans will love. My personal favorite was the style section; to hear Dario and Luciano Tovoli discuss the colors used in the film and how difficult it was creating some of them - it's quite amazing.
Also specific to the limited edition is a 32 page booklet that contains an Introduction for Dario Argento Films by Scott Michael Bosco, liner notes by Travis Crawford, an interview with Jessica Harper, and at the same time is filled with some beautiful stills. Limited edition owners will also get nine 5x7 lobby card reproductions.
Now for the extras that are present on the first DVD, which are available on both the limited and non-limited DVD. Those standard extras consist of two trailers, a TV spot, radio spots, a Daemonia Music Video, a beautiful and extensive poster and still gallery, and talent bios.
Many are bound to complain that Anchor Bay is forcing us to buy the limited edition in order to get the 52-minute documentary - an extra that any Suspiria
fan will want. And as far as I can tell, it's true. I see no real reason why the 52-minute documentary couldn't have been included on the movie DVD - both should easily fit onto a dual layered DVD. That way the non-limited DVD could have all the same extras as the limited DVD, minus the CD soundtrack and additional artwork. For nearly every past example I can think of, that was the normal Anchor Bay procedure. They've changed it for whatever reason, which is unfortunate. Let me clarify and state that my concern isn't in the sense of money. Remember, I'm used to $100+ laserdiscs and I have absolutely no problem telling people to spend the minute $45 to support Anchor Bay's fine work. My concern is when the limited edition DVD is no longer available people are going to have to spend outrageous amounts of money on ebay in order to buy the limited DVD and own the documentary. Quite unfortunate, don't you think? Lets hope Anchor Bay doesn't continue this practice with future releases.
: Given all the audio tracks on the movie DVD - DTS and Dolby Digital, I've learned that it is highly unlikely the documentary would fit on the movie DVD without sacrificing quality. So, basically, I was wrong in that regard. Still, if that the case, I'd still prefer to see the movie-only DVD have a 2nd DVD containing the documentary and bump the price up to $29.95. The limited edition would still be attractive with the extra artwork and the musical cd.
Minus the prior complaint, the extras overall are fantastic and highly enjoyable.
Super a/v presentation and great extras - high marks all around. My only warning to readers is that the 52-minute documentary is only available on the limited edition DVD. Don't wait to pick this limited edition up - the documentary is great and Suspiria
fans will definitely want it in their collection. If you haven't seen Suspiria
before, rush out and buy this LE today - this DVD is a perfect way for Suspiria
virgins to be deflowered.
Movie - A-
Image Quality - A-
Sound - A
Supplements - A-
- 2 DVDs, 1 Audio CD (Limited to 60,000)
- 26 Chapter Stops
- English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
- English: DTS 6.1 DTS-ES
- English: Dolby Surround 2.0
- Italian: Dolby Surround 2.0
- French: Dolby Surround 2.0
- Closed Captioned
- THX Certified
- Suspiria 25th Anniversary 52-minute documentary
- Daemonia Music Video
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spot
- Radio Spots
- Talent Bios
- Poster and Still Gallery
- 32 page booklet and an interview card with Jessica Harper, and nine 5x7 lobby card reproductions