Suspiria (1977)


Suspiria: A

After watching Neon Demon (which I loved) the other day, I had a craving to re-watch Suspiria and it was better than I remembered.

I’m not saying anything revolutionary by praising this movie; its look and sound are cited as inspiration for a ton of American horror “originals” (like Halloween) and this movie is probably what comes to mind for a lot of people when they think of “cult” horror that isn’t piece-of-shit grindhouse exploitation. It has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and I would bet my soul that there are film classes with this on the syllabus. I am not the only person who likes this movie for the reasons I do.

The movie is “about” an American named Suzy who enrolls at a prestigious ballet academy in Germany. The director is a witch and the academy is just a front to presumably stock a stable of virgin girls to be sacrificed for Satanic rituals; all the instructors are in on it. In between recitals, the faculty drinks blood and chants and stuff. There are some murders and lightning. That’s pretty much it. The aforementioned plot points happen over and over to the sound of deafening prog-rock while a rotation of primary colors is projected on everything.

The movie is good, but doesn’t have a lot of the things that make a movie “good.”

Like Neon Demon, this movie is more about maintaining a look/feel than about maintaining a plot. There is a saturation of color in this movie that puts Wes Anderson to shame; this is all in the name of atmosphere, not story. The result is a maximizing of emotion/dread while the story, which doesn’t matter at all, hangs in the background. The story doesn’t even make fucking sense. Most of the important exposition comes from a psychologist who wrote a book on the psychology behind being a supernatural entity. Suz tracks him down at a psychology convention, as if this guy who writes about the psychological make-up of witches and demons would be a respected authority somehow! He explains the psychology of witches to Suzy (and the audience) along with everything else that happens in this movie including a detailed history of the until-now hidden/unknown villain, a witch named Helena Markos.

The soundtrack is unique and overpowering. It will remind you of John Carpenter. There are loud synths and scary noises. It absolutely drowns out everything else that’s happening.

I love the characters in this movie. We have The Neo-Nazi Instructor, The Romanian with False Teeth, The Headmistress Who is a Bitch about Everything, The Poor Blind Guy who is Obviously Gonna Die, and many others. However, the acting is pretty awful.Everyone working on the film all spoke different languages, so there are a bunch of scenes where actors literally don’t know what any of their fellow actors are saying, so they just deliver their lines bluntly while trying to look assertive. But they all look great! This is a fitting metaphor for the film.

You gotta see it.

REVIEW: Satan’s Slave (1976)


Satan’s Slave: D

A lot of Grindhouse films use this tactic of showing a totally insane, out of context prologue scene before or during the opening credits in order to cultivate some buy-in from the audience. That way, people will hopefully sit through all sorts of low budget garbage with the hopes of finding an explanation/resolution for the prologue or seeing something like the prologue repeated. Usually, the proverbial budget/action “wad” is blown during these introductory scenes and what makes up the other 98% of the movie is semi-torturous in its lameness.

This movie has two intro scenes:

1. A dude in red robes and an awesome looking goat mask leads a Satanic ritual in which a panicking blonde is stripped naked and sacrificed to Satan. All these Jawa looking motherfuckers hold torches and chant around him.

2. This dickhead yuppie named Steven tries to rape some babe in his bedroom. When she successfully repels him, he acts like everything’s cool and walks her to the front door. Then he slams her head in the door until she dies. Lots of red corn syrup and synth stabs.

The credits end. The movie begins. 19 year old Catherine is out for a nice drive with her mom and dad. They are going to visit her Uncle Alex (played by the same guy who was Alfred in the Michael Keaton Batman movies) at his beautiful home out in the country. The car crashes and her parents die.  Wah-wah!

Uncle Alex finds the traumatized, physically unscathed Catherine at the scene of the crash and takes her under his wing. He drives her home and gives her a tranquilizer so she will stop her stupid whining about her stupid dead parents. She wakes up and we find out that Alex’s son, Catherine’s cousin, is that door-slamming asshole Steven!

The movie is a Rosemary’s Baby rip-off. Catherine thinks she is Uncle Alex’s guest, but really, she is his prisoner; Uncle Alex is keeping her doped up on tranquilizers and grooming her for a Satanic sacrifice (like the blonde-Jawa-torch scene from the beginning) which is scheduled for a few days later on her 20th birthday. Steven is in on it too. While he seduces Catherine for some cringe-worthy cousin incest action, Uncle Alex uses voodoo to kill her BF who is just minding his own business back in the city. Fucking asshole, Alfred! I mean, Alex! There are other cultists helping them out as well.

The sub-plots are off the hook. Catherine has an inconsistent Shining-like psychic power. Steven’s mom was the sacrificed blonde from the prologue. Catherine’s ancestor was molested/tortured/murdered by Puritans. Catherine’s dead dad was in on it the whole time.

There aren’t anymore door-related deaths. There’s an eyeball shanking and ol’ Steven stabs some woman in the mouth with a piece of mirror. The movie is pretty boring, low budget Grindhouse with all the goofy music and shitty acting you could ever wish for.