Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 27th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1977
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi
Cast: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Eva Axén, Rudolf Schündler, Udo Kier, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett
BluRay released: November 6th, 2017
Approximate running times: 99 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: R 18+ (Australia)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, DTS-HD 5.1 Italian
BluRay Release: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.99
This film’s most underappreciated asset is its narrative. There is a simplicity when it comes to this film’s narrative. Instead of getting bogged down by unnecessary exposition. With the bulk of this film’s relevant information being told during the opening voice-over. With that being said, it is this vagueness that ultimately makes the events that unfold all the more potent.
Structurally this is a film of extreme highs and lows. With an emphasis on the former. And nowhere is this more, then when it comes to this film’s murder set pieces. With this film’s opening setup featuring one of the most exquisite examples of Grand Guignol.
Without a doubt this film’s greatest asset is its visuals. They are filled with inventive compositions and vibrant colors schemes that leap off the screen. This visuals for this film were inspired by the Technicolor process (it should be noted that the actually film stock used on this film was Kodak) and fairy tale films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The cinematographer on Suspiria was Luciano Tovoli, whose other notable films include, The Passenger, Behind Convent Walls and Tenebrae.
Music once again plays a prominent role in a Dario Argento film. The score was composed by Goblin, who had previously worked with Dario Argento on Deep Red. And though Goblin or various members of Goblin would collaborate on other Dario Argento films. With Suspiria they would create, what is arguably one of cinema’s greatest scores. The score for Suspiria perfectly fuses with the aforementioned visuals and there is a fever pitched intensity created by these two elements.
Not to be overlooked, when discussing Suspiria is Jessica Harper’s (Phantom of the Paradise) performance in the role of this film’s protagonist Suzy Bannion. Her performance perfectly captures her characters childlike innocence. Other performance of note include, Stefania Casini (The Climber, Bloodstained Shadow) in the role of Sara, a student who meets a grizzly fate due to her inquisitiveness, Joan Bennett (Scarlet Street, “Dark Shadows”) in the role of Madame Blanc and Alida Valli (The Third Man, Inferno) in the role of Miss Tanner, a domineering instructor at the academy.
Suspiria comes on a 50 GB dual layer (45.8 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This releases transfer was sourced from a 4k restoration that was done by TLE Films in Germany. And this same 4k restoration was used for Cult Films Region B UK Blu-ray release. This is a film where colors play a large role and colors look vibrant throughout. Black levels are consistently strong, the image looks crisp, flesh tones look natural, grain remains intact and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with three audio mixes, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English (2017 mix), a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English (2012 mix) and a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Italian. There are two English language audio mixes included with this release. With the stronger of these two audio mixes being the 2017 mix. Range wise the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented, dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when they need too, especially Goblin’s score for the film. Included with this release are removable English subtitles. It should be noted that the subtitles are a translation of the English language tracks and that there are a few errors. Also there is no menu option to switch between the three audio mixes and they only way to switch between the audio options is by using your remote control.
Extras for this release include, a reversible cover art, an extensive image gallery, three radio spots (30 seconds each radio spot), a T.V. spot (30 seconds), the U.S. theatrical trailer (1 minute 12 seconds), the International theatrical trailer (2 minutes 3 seconds), an interview with Dario Argento from 2004 (21 minutes 15 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), 25th anniversary Suspiria documentary (51 minutes 49 seconds, in Italian and English with English subtitles), a featurette titled Fear at 400 Degrees: The Cine-Excess of Suspiria (34 minutes 56 seconds, in English and Italian with English subtitles), a documentary titled An Eye for Horror (56 minutes 57 seconds, in English and Italian with English subtitles), a documentary titled Dario Argento’s World of Horror (70 minutes 48 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and an interview with Dario Argento and Nick Vivarelli on Suspiria’s 4oth anniversary titled Suspiria Told by Dario Argento (27 minutes 14 seconds, in Italian and English with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Dario Argento from 2004 include, the origins of Suspiria, the visuals, how no two shots are alike, Jessica Harper, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli, Goblin / the score, audience reaction to the film, accidents and odd occurrences that happened while making this film and special effects.
Topics discussed in the 25th anniversary Suspiria documentary include, Rudolf Steiner, the origins of Suspiria, Dario Argento, the visuals, the cast, the score, other production related topics and their thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the featurette titled Fear at 400 Degrees: The Cine-Excess of Suspiria, background information about the film, Dario Argento’s influence on the giallo genre, Suspiria / the visuals / the score, the role women play in Dario Argento’s films and their thoughts about Suspiria.
The extra titled An Eye for Horror is a career retrospective documentary that covers Dario Argento’s career up to Sleepless.
The extra titled Dario Argento’s World of Horror is a well-rounded overview of all of the Dario Argento’s films up to Phenomena. This extra also touches upon some of the films that he produced like Demons.
Topics discussed in interview with Dario Argento and Nick Vivarelli include, the origins of Suspiria, background information about the film’s main location, cinematographer Luciano Tovoli / the visuals, how he originally intended the girls at the academy to be younger and why he had to go with an adult cast, the cast, onset memories, Goblin / the score, critic reaction to the film and other cinema related topics.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat o’ Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Five Days of Milan, Deep Red, Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebrae, Phenomena, Opera, Two Evil Eyes, Trauma, The Stendhal Syndrome, The Phantom of the Opera, Sleepless, The Card Dealer, Mother of Tears and Giallo.
Though the information provided on this release’s back cover lists that this release is region B. This release is actually region free.
Overall Suspiria gets a solid release from Umbrella Entertainment, highly recommended.