Yes, now it's the time for getting a copy of your film
favourites on 4K UHD blu-ray disc release. I doubt if there will be
better quality releases (as future 8K maybe ...) on any discs. The big
film companies will surely stop releasing films on a
disc and only go for streaming services (who already show films in 4K
UHD). Much younger generations than me don't
care about holding a physical copy of your film as a disc in your hand,
only older collector dudes like me do.
Cinema, Kungsgatan, Stockholm July 1978
Yes, this could well be the greatest horror movie ever
made and it's for sure the most important film, for me, as it 1. Frightened
the hell out of me as no other film has managed to do, and 2. Woke my
interest for horror movies. I remember it well, IMDB says
that Suspiria premiered in Sweden in July 24 1978 and it was shown at
2 cinemas in Stockholm (where I live) and one of them
was Cinema (located at the corner of Kungsgatan and Sveavägen).
As a teenager i was there and the reason was that the film
had got a really, really bad review in our second largest evening newspaper
"Expressen" the lowest "an crossed over Wasp".
That woke my interest of how worthless and full of shit mainstream film
reviewers are, as the visual impact of the film shook
me deeply. I had for sure never seen anything like it in my life and
I remember how afraid I was at home, couldn't go close to
any window because of fear of the possibility of something diabolic
lurking outside. I dreamt about it for years.
GOD bless this brave american woman, Suzy Bannion
who made us, she and the viewers, escape from hell (in Swedish "Flykten
från helvetet"). This ethereal Jessica Harper with her big
beautiful eyes, she was just perfect for the role, a rational girl and
without fear (Jennifer Connolly, another rational american girl without
fear in "Phenomena"). I had previously seen her in the
delightful Brian De Palma 1974 favourite "Phantom of the Paradise"
where she sang Paul Williams music beatifully ("Old Souls".
Above: Inner sleeve
When shown in Swedish teatres the film was cut to pieces
and e.g. the first outstanding setpiece murder with Eva Axen hanging
from the ceiling (as on the outer sleeve above) was radically shortened.
Even so the films visuals and soundtrack still had a huge
impact and I remember making my friends go watch it. Not until 1980
or 1981 I watched Suspiria totally Uncut, and then in a Paris
suburb and in a dubbed to french version (not understanding what they
said maybe made the film even scarier).
OK, i haven't said anything about the story of the film,
sorry, but i'm pretty sure any horror lover visiting this site have
seen this classic a couple of times, and the story is simple. An american
ballet dancer, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives to a
German Dance Academy to polish her art. The Academy is run by a coven
of witches and they kill everyone they dislike. End.
Alida Valli plays Ms. Tanner with gusto, those big white teeth of hers,
she's scary as hell. Valli that played in some of the greatest
film classics ever made, as Carol Reed's 1949 "The Third Man"
(read more about this one on my Cult and Classics Page) and also
in Georges Franju's 1959 "Les yeux sans visage / Eyes without a
face" (see my Horror Films Page 2).
Just a thought: In the opening set-piece murder scene
Suzy leaves the Academy after not being let in. She travels by Taxi
by the eternal chauffeur Fulvio Mingozzi) and sees a girl, Pat played
by Eva Axen, the one she saw leaving the Academy in panic,
running through the Schwarzwald Forest, in the rain and storm and apparently
in a state of some shock. And .... she won't stop
the car and try to help her, ask what's wrong, asking if she wants a
ride, or something .... anything. Telling the driver at least.
Above: The old US Blue Underground DVD edition
Besides Dario Argento's filmmaking genius there are
three main things that make Suspiria a Masterpiece. The Cinematography
of Luciano Tovoli. 2. The soundtrack by Goblin (and Argento) and 3.
The acting from Jessica Harper, Alida Valli and Stefania
Casini. But also from the somewhat secondary characters as Joan Bennett,
Barbara Magnolfi and from Eva Axen in the first
ultra-nasty and truly terrifying murder scene as she really, really
looks terrified and by this giving the scene extra power. And,
the one's playing the minor roles were all perfect too, as the evil
kid played by Jacopo Mariani (also in Deep Red), the old
russian maid, the piano player and Pavel the handyman. Maybe Udo Kier
and the quirky professor weren't that good though.
The US Synapse comes with a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc with
the film and two audio commentaries, and with a Blu-ray disc with
the extras. This release is an award winning restoration of the film
to 4K UHD and with the final transfer color supervised and
approved by cinematographer Luciano Tovoli.
The film is presented in 2.39:1 widescreen with english audio 4.0 surround
or english Dolby Atmos or italian audio 5.1 surround
with english subtitles. Extras - see below.
Above: The old US Anchor Bay Limited 2 disc DVD
+ ST CD edition
4K UHD Extras:
Audio Commentary by "Argento Scholar" Troy
Howarth (but he hates Phenomena with fervour) or audio commentary with
author Derek Botelho and film-scholar David Del Valle. (I found Troy
Howarth's commentary to be the best as he mentioned
the actors when they appeared. Just like Tim Lucas, and thereby respecting
Disc 2 - Blu-ray Extras:
A sigh from the Depths - 40 Years of Suspiria Featurette
(27 minutes, 2017), Do you know anything about witches ? - Visual
essay (30 minutes), Suzy in Germany Featurette (8 minutes, location
info), Interview with Barbara Magnolfi (17 minutes, 2017),
Original US release opening credits, Original theatrical trailer, Original
TV and Radio spots
Final thoughts: The Synapse restored version of Suspiria
in 4K UHD looks like a dream and it also has the original theatrical
4.0 english surround mix. OK, it's a buy but the extras were a bit meagre.
The old DVD editions seen above did have the -
Suspiria 25th Anniversary Documentary. Interviews with Dario Argento,
Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Daria Nicolodi, Udo
Kier, cinematographer Luciano Tovoli and Goblin, (and I would've loved
an interview with Jessica Harper et. al.