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Suspiria (1977, Alida Valli, Jessica Harper)

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The advertising tagline for this movie was ‘After you’ve seen it, you will never feel safe in the dark again.’ Dario Argento’s horror movie Suspiria is one of the most atmospheric, frightening films ever made and offers the viewer no respite for its entire duration.

From the clap of thunder in the opening sequence, Argento gives us a series of blood-chilling supernatural events in the unlikely setting of a ballet school in the Black Forest. The unfortunate innocent stepping into a personal hell is Susy Bannion (Jessica Harper), an American ballet dancer. On her first night in Germany a ballet student is found brutally murdered and when Susy arrives at the school, the police are interviewing Miss Blank (Joan Bennett) and Miss Tanner (Alida Valli) about the murder. After the death of the school’s pianist, Susy becomes increasingly suspicious about her teachers and decides to investigate further. Her efforts reveal that the school was formerly the home of a coven of famous witches lead by The Black Widow and Susy decides to confront them.

Employing offbeat camera angles and an unbelievably menacing score, Argento twists the knife until you’re left begging for mercy. The Guardian wrote that ‘Argento’s considerable skill invests almost everything with horror,’ while the Financial Times noted: ‘This supremely heady concoction has been made even stronger by its astounding soundtrack [by The Goblins] – a multi-track cacophony of percussion bangs and rattles, moaning choruses and sinister whisperings – which engineers a constant level of high tension.’

production details
Italy / 98 minutes / 1977

Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Thomas De Quincey, Daria Nicolodi,

cast
Alida Valli as Miss Tanner
Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion
Stefania Casini as Sara
Flavio Bucci as Daniel
Miguel Bosé as Mark
Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc
Barbara Magnolfi as Olga
Gregory Snegoff as Daniel / Mark (voice)
Udo Kier as Dr. Frank Mandel
Frank von Kugelgen as Dr. Frank Mandel (voice)
Carolyn De Fonseca as Olga (voice)
Eva Axén as Pat Hingle
Rudolf Schündler as Professor Milius
Geoffrey Copleston as Professor Milius (voice)
Susanna Javicoli as Sonia
Franca Scagnetti as Cook
Giuseppe Transocchi as Pavlo
Jacopo Mariani as Albert
Renato Scarpa as Professor Verdegast
Margherita Horowitz as Teacher
Lela Svasta as Mater Suspiriorum/Helena Markos
Dario Argento as Narrator (voice)
William Kiehl as English Narrator (voice)
Fulvio Mingozzi as Taxi Driver
Daria Nicolodi as Woman at Airport (uncredited)
Serafina Scorceletti as 2nd Cook
Renata Zamengo as Caroline
Alessandra Capozzi as Dancer
Salvatore Capozzi as Dancer
Diana Ferrara as Dancer
Cristina Latini as Dancer
Alfredo Raino as Dancer
Claudia Zaccari as Dancer

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