Suspiria (1977)

Rating: B+

Dir: Dario Argento
Star: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé

Suspiria is a perfect example of giallo: there is much about it that is totally ludicrous, for example, someone climbing into a room and apparently failing to notice it’s filled with razor wire. But it is certainly one of the best-looking movies of all time, photography and lighting combining in brazen defiance of logic to create a truly nightmarish world. This is also an incredibly edgy film, where the most everyday of shots is turned, largely thanks to the amazing Goblin score, into something hugely ominous. Witness the opening, where our heroine simply walks towards a set of sliding doors at an airport – the way the sequence is constructed, you’re convinced something horrific is going to happen as a result.

Not that there’s any shortage of real horror, with a variety of spectacular kills, as Suzy (Harper) slowly uncovers a witches’ coven at her German ballet school, in what’s best described as Alice in Wonderland meets The Exorcist – and why won’t the teachers let her eat with her classmates? Now, as noted, there is little “reality” on view here; for example, police interest in the carnage is desultory at best. However, few movies have ever done a better job of capturing the colour-flooded style of the subconscious and its creations. Suzy gradually finds herself getting in deeper, until the night where the rest of the students have gone on a ballet trip, leaving her the only pupil in the school. This resulting finale is totally off-the-wall, combining black magic, zombies and telekinesis. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.