Thursday, January 22, 2015


Score Technician: Joe Hemmerling

Despite his recent legacy of catastrophic missteps, Dario Argento has one movie that forever secures his place within the pantheon of great horror directors, and that movie is Suspiria. Praised for its visual inventiveness and its otherworldly soundtrack by Italian prog rockers Goblin, Suspiria is regarded as the pinnacle of Italian horror and shows up on every short-list of the greatest horror movies of all time. But the Progressive Cinema Scorecard is not one to bow before sacred cows. Only that which can be verified by empirical evidence holds any weight in these parts, so with that in mind, let's see how this legendary film holds up to the nanobots' scrutiny.
  • Musica dei "Goblin" = +100pts 
  • For capturing how tough it is for a white girl to hail a taxi in the middle of the night. = +2pts 
  • Apparently the route between the Munich Airport and the Freiburg Dance Academy is just one big red light district. = +4pts 
  • The runaway dance student couldn't hold that door just three more seconds for Suzy? = -3pts 
  • Hmmm... Wonder where Wes Anderson got the visual inspiration for the Grand Budapest Hotel? = +11pts 
  • Not sure if the hairiness of the murder's arm would have been considered a physical deformity in the '70s, or the paragon of sexiness. = +5pts 
  • The runaway's friend seems to be having an unaccountably difficult time navigating her own apartment. = -4pts 
  • Murder scene with the stained glass window is simultaneously the most gorgeous and absurdly gratuitous moment in cinematic history. = +40pts 
  • Suzy arrives the next day and meets Mrs. Tanner (definitely not a recusant Nazi), Mrs. Blanc, and her nephew Albert, who we're guessing is Rosemary's baby, age ten. = +7pts 
  • Surely the giant retarded butler who speaks only Romanian is a benevolent figure as well. = +3pts 
  • Back in the locker room, Suzy's classmates descend upon her like homeless men trying to sell print copies of The Red Eye to tourists. Who knew that girls attending elite European dance academies were so hard up for cash? = -9pts 
  • How Dario Argento thinks women interact. = -28pts 
  • The ladies of the dance academy really want Suzy to live on-campus, for reasons that are never made clear. = -8pts 
  • Nothing weird here. I'm just polishing my giant shard of glass with my little pal, the Antichrist. = +4pts
  • Signs you might be in Europe: After Suzy's mysterious fainting spell, the doctor prescribes her a glass of wine a day to combat her exhaustion. = +10pts 
  • Rain of maggots. = +30pts 
  • While exterminators deal with the maggots cascading down from the floor above the dormitory, the students are forced to bunk in the practice room. Did we fall asleep and wake up in the middle of Revenge of the Nerds? = -5pts 
  • The director of the academy has a sinister case of sleep apnea. = +3pts
  • Firing a blind pianist? Hope your coven keeps a good lawyer on retainer. = -12pts 
  • Suzy and Sarah discover that the teachers don't go home at night, but are instead living somewhere in the school, thus confirming what we have always suspected ever since 1st grade. = +6pts 
  • The pianist whiles away his evening enjoying a traditional German slap-fight dance. = +7pts 
  • The pianist takes way too long to get mauled by his own dog in the middle of a giant town square. = -5pts 
  • Suzy recalls hearing the runaway saying something about an "iris," but unfortunately is twenty years too early to realize she was probably talking about a bitchin' Goo Goo Dolls song. = -8pts 
  • Suzy's dinner was roofied. [INSERT BILL COSBY JOKE HERE]. = -14pts
  • The dance academy moonlights as a brothel: The only logical explanation for why the hallways are lit in fuchsia at night. = +6pts 
  • Sarah, fleeing a murderous witch, holes up in an empty room and then watches in utter helplessness as the person on the other side of the door fumbles ineffectually at the latch with a razor for what feels like hours. = -13pts 
  • Poor Sarah accidentally stumbles into the room where the dance academy stores all of its barbed wire. = +9pts 
  • Suzy, suspecting foul play behind Sarah's disappearance, tracks down her missing friend's psychologist, Dr. Frank Mandel, who quickly demonstrates that there's no word for "Doctor-Patient Confidentiality" in German. = +11pts 
  • Dr. Mandel, who, for some reason knows the entire history of the Freiburg Dance Academy, informs Suzy that the school was originally dedicated to the study of "dance and occult sciences." Because The Freiburg School of Culinary Arts and Witchcraft must have already been in use by another coven. = +7pts 
  • Also, everyone in this movie pronounces "occult" as "AH cult." = -6pts 
  • Dr. Mandel delivers a lengthy expositional monologue, in which he dismisses witchcraft and champions the notion of a rational, orderly universe. To set Suzy's mind at ease once and for all, he refers her to Professor Millus, a foremost expert in the psychology of the occult, who immediately proceeds to tell her, "Witches are real as fuck, and they're probably trying to kill you right now." = +12pts 
  • Professor Millus on Helena Markos, founder of the Freiburg Academy: "She was a real mistress of the dark." The part he left out: "And a demon in the sack." = +5pts 
  • Suzy discovers every one of her classmates went to the theater, leaving her alone in the dance academy. For reproducing with frightening accuracy this technician's own college experience. = +3pts 
  • The scene with the bat. = -20pts (You just kind of feel sorry for it.) 
  • Suzy, wearing her stealthiest pair of heels to go sneaking around the academy after hours. = +11pts 
  • Suzy walks through the secret door in Mrs. Blanc's office and into the opening credits of Blue Velvet. = +7pts
  •  Don't be afraid, Mrs. Blanc. Tell us how you REALLY feel about Suzy. = +2pts 
  • That peacock lamp. = +16pts
  • Maybe not a popular opinion, but for our money, the scene where Helena Markos first rises from her bed and speaks is probably the scariest moment in this movie. = +50pts 
  • Our terror at the moment above is only slightly diminished by the actual sight of Helena Markos. = -13pts 
  • But, hey, Zombie Sarah looks a little like Tina Fey when she smiles. = +6pts
  • Good thing Helena Markos' Achiles heel is "sharp object to the throat." = +4pts 
  • The satisfied smile that steals across Suzy's face as she strolls out of the flaming Freiburg Academy and into the rain. = +32pts 
  • But where are her classmates going to sleep tonight when they get home and find their school burned to the ground? = -16pts 
Total Score = +259pts
Available On: DVD

Suspiria's insane use of color, meticulous compositions, and surreal set pieces make it one of the most visually stunning films ever made, irrespective of genre. Add onto that a soundtrack that sounds like it was composed of the susurrations of the damned, and you've got a movie so frightening that you might not even notice your first time through that nothing about it makes even an inch of sense (Like, if Suzy's curiosity about the academy was becoming such a problem, maybe it was a bad idea for you guys to trick her into staying on-campus?). In any case, there's no denying Suspiria was a hugely influential film. We mentioned Anderson and Lynch above, but we have a feeling Nicolas Winding Refn and Harmony Korine have probably seen an Argento film or two in their time. Regardless of how far the director has fallen in the decades that followed (DRACULA. MANTIS.), there's no doubt that this movie stands the test of time.

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