Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Seeing 'Suspiria' in 4K!

Suspiria (1977) at the Shin Bungeiza. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Oh, [Suspiria], I'm down on my knees 
I'm begging you please to come home 
Come on home
-- Simon & Garfunkel

Tonight (Wednesday, November 29), I returned to the Shin Bungeiza theater in Ikebukuro to catch a screening of Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977) in 4K. I'd only seen the movie once before, and that was in the early days of YouTube. Yeah, my first experience with it (back in late December 2007) was watching it on the platform in 10-minute segments in low resolution. I have a buddy in Chicago who digs horror movies, and I remember talking with him about the film at length after watching it. I wasn't impressed with it at the time, but I figured seeing it in 4K on the big screen would be the best way to give it a second chance.

Thanks to the various Mill Creek 50-movie box sets, I've seen several other Dario Argento movies, and, if I'm being completely honest, I haven't liked most of them. Offhand, it's hard for me to name the ones I've seen because I almost instantly forget about them after viewing them. Circa 2008, I saw Deep Red (1975) on one of the aforementioned Mill Creek sets, and I've always considered that my favorite Argento film. Gotta catch that one again.

Suspiria merch for sale! Photo by Brett Homenick.

As for Suspiria, I was kind of tickled how similar the opening of the movie was to Evil of Dracula (1974). Both films open with a taxi ride by our out-of-towner protagonist to a creepy school run by ghouls and goblins (not to be confused with the band Goblin, who provides the score for the flick). In the late '90s, I remember hearing from more than one tokusatsu fan the old yarn about how George Lucas ripped off the story of The Magic Serpent (1966) for Star Wars (1977), so I probably shouldn't give anyone wild ideas here. I mean, some people still believe that RoboCop (1987) was a rip-off of Space Sheriff Gavan (1982-83).

Wow, did I get off-topic. That might be because I don't have much else to say about the film. Interestingly, seeing it in 4K on the big screen didn't change my opinion one iota. It's certainly a much better visual experience, and the film definitely does look amazing in general, so I'll give it credit for that. But I didn't find the story engaging, nor did I find it particularly creepy or remotely scary.

No argument here that maggots are gross, and looking at them is unpleasant, but that doesn't mean showing them in a movie automatically puts you in "master of horror" (whatever that's supposed to mean, anyway) territory. The movie isn't very well acted (which, in fairness, might be more of a problem with the voice actors who dubbed the principals), the scares aren't very scary (the fake blood looks exactly like what it is, and the stabbing in the first death scene seemed surprisingly lethargic), and the climax was a let-down (despite all the build-up, the final boss was sure defeated pretty easily).  

I did enjoy the score by Goblin and the visuals, but that was about it. I think it's fair to say that Dario Argento movies just aren't my cup of tea. I do want to see Deep Red again at some point, as I'm sure I'd have a better time with that one. (I still vividly remember the opening scene, which sure is an attention-grabber.)


  1. Hey , I'm the Buddy in Chicago!! Suspiria is cool, but it's no Deep Red (Classic). I actually enjoy more of it's sequel INFERNO. It's famous for the cinematography, and of course the score by Goblin is now Iconic. Don't feel bad if it didn't blow you away, your not alone. It's not for everyone. I like it but don't love it.

  2. You sure it was a cheapie Mill Creek DVD set you saw some of Argento’s movies on? None of those are in the public domain, nor seem to be on any of those sorts of sets.

    1. Deep Red (and some others) were included in the early editions, but were removed from the reissues. I believe some Argento movies even made it onto the reissues, but I have no idea whether any of those are PD or not.