The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

Waiting For Suspiria

Not many newbie horror fans get to take in the fun that comes from seeing a horror movie for the first time. Being a newer fan of horror, slasher, and thriller films myself, I have found it hard to both go backwards into the history of horror to find key movies to watch and to see what new horror films are coming up. It’s a daunting task at best. Luckily for me though, and everyone else in the world, streaming services have made this easy. But what if you want to experience a horror movie so overwhelmingly crazy and nutty that even major horror heads are like “good luck bruh”? Well, you go see it for the first time at an art house theater right? Well that’s what I plan to do when it comes to Dario Argento’s 1977 classic Suspiria.

Like I said, being a new horror movie fan is very hard–at least for me–cause catching up on what was good back in the day makes for an interesting exploration of the various sub-genres within horror itself. Suspiria falls into a very specific genre of horror that was big in ’70s Italy called giallo films. This genre of film very muched focused on the mystery and suspense of earlier built up in crime thriller-type films but also added hints of horror and slasher films that were popular at the time in grindhouse theaters and drive ins. Giallo’s influence on the horror genre itself outside of Italy is expansive, which is why it made me want to explore deeper into Dario’s work itself. Several of my favorite horror directors I started watching when I was first starting to dig deeper into horror would talk about the influences that Italian horror and Dario Argento had on their work. Almost as if it was a calling card for the styles they wanted to imitate, Suspiria was mentioned every time for its dream-like sequences and off the wall kill scenes. To directors whose work I’ve loved like Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino, Argento was their horror guy and Suspiria was a muse for what they wanted to portray on the big screen when it comes to fantasy violence. It was from there that I decided to explore a little bit more.

I’m not going completely blind into Suspiria, so I dug up some reviews both good and bad to see if I should even waste my time. Digging deeper into it I found that a lot of the bad reviews were sadly based on the typical-but-trivial criticism so often thrown at horror films: this movie is bad cause the story makes no sense. It’s a tired and sometimes true sentiment escaped when a movie is hyped up beyond its initial release and early reviews. As I started to dig into the better reviews though, I saw some of the same “the story makes no sense” musings but the reviews also pointed out the good points of the film. Some attempted to make sense of the film, and others highlighted the visuals that helped build the atmosphere of the film. Though many did tend to focus on the violence towards women, the movie didn’t stray away from also empowering the lead actors, who put on such dazzling acts that it made the movie beyond surreal. It was at this point hearing all this that I was determined to go see the movie.

It’s lucky to know that when you work at a theater you will more than likely be able to see films you wouldn’t normally see if you were to stay home and watch something on Netflix or pop in your favorite DVD for the 100th time. Having the ability to see Suspiria on the kind of screen the way it was meant to be seen is a thrilling opportunity for me, especially after reading reviews and thinking deeply about Dario Argento and his work. I hope after seeing Suspiria my love for horror expands to new heights and I can have a deeper connection with the horror movies I’ve loved for years and new ones I might find to watch in the future.