Category Archives: Film

Sunday Reviews: Suspiria

SuspiriaMany of you may know that George A. Romero’s “…Of The Dead” series of movies are my favorites. Not just my favorite horror films, but of all movie genres. Many of you may not know however, that Romero worked quite a bit with Dario Argento, an Italian movie writer/director/producer, who made/worked on such wonderful films like Opera, Once Upon a Time in the West, and of course the two Masters of Horror shorts Jenifer and Pelts. But one of Argento’s earlier directorial works is Suspiria, a horror film about witches at a prestigious ballet school.

Suspiria starts off fairly strong. Good music plays through the credits, then a voice explains the opening plot (remember, ‘70s movie)… then you see a girl leaving an airport to flag down a taxi, and the cinematography masterwork begins. This is one of the finest areas of the movie actually. The camera work is just astonishing throughout, it’s not all fancy (Inception) nonsense, but rather simple yet effective beauty. Argento uses angles and a focus on simple actions (an automatic door’s mechanism opening and closing) to break the flow of movement in a way that actually seems to enhance it. It’s quite impressive, and really adds to the film rather than distracts from it, unlike poorer attempts in other films.

So the movie develops, and you see the girl arrive at her new ballet school. You see a girl get murdered. You see strange things happening! And as all this happens you are drawn in by the soundtrack quite nicely. At times I found myself paying less attention to the screen and more to my ears. The soundtrack of this movie, which was written and performed by Goblin, flows phenomenally, really drawing you in at the right times, setting the mood perfectly. Sadly, the dubbing does not. We were watching the English dubbed version, and I hate to say they did a really poor job with the movie. I need to acquire a subtitled copy. But besides that, the sound editing is amazing and, overall, of extremely high quality. Onward!

One thing I do have say about this movie is that some of the plot points are extraordinarily weak. Primarily the main “twist.” The entire witches idea comes out of nowhere, and could have been easily replaced with any sort of “horror” ideal, like demons, vampires, etc. It was not a well thought out plot point, but it worked. Although, the interpretation of witchcraft is so off base and misinforming that it’s almost offensive… but it was the ’70s. It just seems like they had this great idea for creepy things happening around this school… but thought up a reason for those things to be happening at the last second. An afterthought.

Also, the room full of razor wire? Really? Where did that come from? Why would that even be in there!? Silliness…

Room o' Razorwire

Those bales of wire you ordered? Yup! Loosely piled in that storeroom like you asked!

Throughout the film we started noticing certain things. “Why are they using watered-down paint for blood?” Or… “Wow, the movement in the pool scene was very graceful, well in keeping with the ‘dancer’ motif.” Both good and negative. Though we really developed a dislike of the dubbing. The English dialogue does not flow well in this movie… as I mentioned. At parts it makes the movie almost unbearable. So trust me, if you’re going to watch it try to find the subtitled version. But enough repeating… there are certain points of this film that really do stick out, both good and bad. The pool scene, the razor wire scene, the fact that every female basically has the exact same hair type and style… The fact that a young Udo Kier is playing a nice, intelligent psychiatrist (weird!)… Not so much distractions from the movie, but amusing things that we noticed while watching. Or things that add an entirely new level of excellence. It really seems that Argento’s success in this film is entirely in the technical work, leaving a little to be desired on the creative side. Although it’s hard to tell if the actors were good or not… DAMN ENGLISH DUBBING!

Overall, I personally really enjoyed this movie, as an example of excellent storytelling and cinematography in ’70s film. I wish I had the subtitled version, but things being what they were, it’s a good movie. Just keep in mind that its over 30 years old… Also, if you’re not into good horror, but more the slasher-Scream/Jason type, you may not enjoy it. It’s more of a subtle horror.

Creative: 3/5
Technical: 4/5

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Sunday Reviews Explained

Sorry for the delay today, we had a power outage this morning, and a few other things going on…

So! I figured that I would lead up to my first review with an explanation of the reviewing process. I am going to do these as a two-fold review, so there will be two rankings per movie – Creative and Technical. Basically, the reviews are going to cover points that stood out to me throughout the film – specific scenes that were good (or bad), specific technical aspects that I took notice of, etc. Also, there will be a basic explanation of the plot, acting, camerawork, etc, as a breakdown of my ranking. I intend to try and keep these reviews as spoiler-free as possible… so at points they may feel vague, but I feel that you as readers are more likely to want to watch the movies I give high praise to if I don’t give away the entire movie in the review. So, to break down the two categories…

Creative – The “Creative” category covers the acting, writing, and plot of the movie. The acting will simply be based off of the skill/talent of the actors involved. I will also be trying to keep my considerations of this within the era of the movie. Movies were held to much different standards in the ’70s than they are now, so a movie that might be considered a bomb today could have been a box office hit in 1975. Things you have to keep in mind… Also, the writing will basically cover the flow of  dialogue in the movie, as well as the quality of the dialogue. Finally – plot will cover just that – the plot. How interesting it is, how well laid out it is, and whether or not it’s well delivered. I will take a “grade” into consideration for all of these categories, and then my final rank will be the average of them.

Technical – The “Technical” category is more definite than the “Creative” one. It will cover things like the sound editing, cinematography, lighting, direction, soundtrack/score, etc. This rating will probably be more strict than the other, as it isn’t as open to opinion as the “Creative” side – aka I hold movies to higher standards in technical aspects than creative aspects, heh. So basically I’ll point out anything I think was done poorly, or particularly well, and at the end give you my rating, which will once again be the average of all the individual grades that make up this category.

So for example – say I watched Fight Club (one of my favorite movies). I think the acting, dialogue, and plot of this movie are fantastic. The plot twists are well done, and the over arching imagination it took to write this movie was superb. 5/5. And on the technical side, the movie is extremely well shot, the soundtrack rocks, the lighting fits well with the themes, and the movie, over all, delivers in every way it sets out to, artistically.  Again, 5/5. So at the bottom of the review you’d see this…

Creative: 5/5
Technical: 5/5

Got it? Good. Now stay tuned for the review of Suspiria!