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Member's Reviews

Suspiria, a review by Jon

5 out of 5

An American girl arrives late at a German dance academy in time to see a girl running away, who is murdered soon after. Other strange events follow and she finds out about the mysterious history of the school and that it used to be a front for a coven of witches before being destroyed in a fire.

Here's me, finally dipping my big toe into the murky, bloody waters of Italian horror. I've wanted to see Suspiria for a very long time as it is spoken of with great reverance.

It didn't disappoint, though it did take a little getting used to. It is at once faithfully developing and adhering to old techniques of genre film-making, while also pushing it to its very limits in ways even the independent spirit of 70s films would find impossible to match. As such, it is genuinely shocking, even today, with one scene in particular making a complete mockery of the entire Saw franchise. It's too easy to be snobbish though, so to put it in context, it was released the same year Spielberg invented the blockbuster in Jaws, three years after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and two before Alien. 

Horror is the most visual of the original genres, developed from German Expressionism where Gothic architecture and ominous shadows became the essential building blocks of any scary movie. The school is a perfect setting for a classic horror then, with everything from huge halls, creepy attics and secret rooms.

But what's changed over the years in general is that those core elements have softened; either audiences have become desensitised to the OTT visual style of old-school horror, or studios prefer something more generic and so soften the edges.

Dario Argento doesn't follow that thinking at all. He takes his typical Gothic mansion and enthusiastically drenches it colour. Every set is dazzlingly different to the last, in both decor and lighting. Even the narrative alludes to it, with a teacher conducting lessons in either the "red room" or the "yellow room". There is a blue room as well and Argento uses those primary colours along with windows and reflections to emphasise a hidden world just behind what we can see.

This is perhaps demonstrated best in a memorable scene when all the students are forced to abandon their rooms and have to sleep in makeshift beds all together in a hall that the teachers have hastily prepared. Sheets are hung from the ceiling to form a barrier inside the hall. When the lights are turned off, instead of the expected darkness, we get a deep dark red with shadows moving along the sheets.

Brilliantly effective, Argento never takes the obvious route in this film and defies convention whenever possible. This assault on convention and the senses is also in the soundtrack from Goblin. I'd forgotten about their wonderful, brief theme in Dawn of the Dead and this is similarly bonkers. It sounds like they threw everything into it! There's even a voice screaming "witch!" in the mix. At times, I found it a bit much, but then I wasn't expecting such a visceral experience overall and repeat viewings will let me appreciate it properly. When the girl is departing the airport at the very start, the music is only heard when the doors at the front open. Nice gag and underlines the idea she's stepping into a new world.

So it's all very pretty in a foreboding way, but these Italian films are known for their blood soaked murders. Suspiria opens with one of the best movie murders I've ever seen and has one or two more that are very powerful indeed. Not so much for their aesthetics, but just because they get under your skin and again challenge what you may expect to be the norm. Continuing the notion of hidden worlds, a lot of windows get smashed during these scenes. The first victim is suffocated against the glass before it finally breaks.

(click to show/hide)

(From October Marathon: Horror! on October 26th, 2008)

Member's Reviews

A New Leaf, a review by Antares

A New Leaf (1971) 78/100The PlagueHarold and Maude and Kind Hearts and Coronets as two of my all time favorite films. A New Leaf, which has its moments of brilliance, almost ranks right up there with both of those great films. Walter Matthau is excellent as the spoiled trust fund baby with the Monsieur Verdoux complex, but my favorite character has to be George Rose as the sympathetic butler. As I was watching, I kind of wondered if his character was the basis for the Hobson role in ArthurTeal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

(From Antares' Short Summations on October 14th, 2013)

Member's TV Reviews

Pilot Season 2014-15, a review by DJ Doena


Undateable @ Wikipedia
Undateable @ IMDb

Synopsis: Danny's (stand-up comedian Chris D'Elia) old roommate is buried, err, married now and he's looking for a new one.
That's when he invites the Black Eyes Bar owner Justin to live with him.
Except that Justin is not what you'd expect when you think of someone who owns a bar. He's very shy and serious and Danny on the other hand is a man-child.
Now it's Danny's mission in life to teach Justin and his lovable loser friends the art of speaking to women (and in one case, to men).

My Opinion: I like the guys. Even though they are portrayed as weird and losers, they are not the butt of the joke. They are just different.
They are not nerds but they do remind me of the early seasons of The Big Bang Theory.
I didn't even remember that until I rewatched the pilot yesterday evening but this sitcom does come with a laugh track though I think it's not as loud and obnoxious as with other shows.
I still don't get why this concept hasn't abandoned yet. I decide when I think something's funny or not, I do not need a sarcasm laugh sign.
But maybe it's because you can't completely mute it out since most shows like this are recorded in front of an audience - but then I'm wondering why they are laughing after just about every sentence, funny or not.

One of the female characters is portrayed by Briga Heelan who's acting in another small comedy series I really like, Ground Floor.

Ground Floor:

(From Pilot Season 2014-15 on September 7th, 2014)