Viewed – 29 Jan 2010  Blu-ray

Dario Argento’s iconic 1976 gothic horror is probably one of the most unique and influential horror movies ever made, forming the inspiration for countless horror movies that followed, including John Carpenter’s legendary Halloween.  Following the story of a young ballet dancer (Jessica Harper) as she attends a prestigious German dance academy, and soon stumbles upon a secret witches coven.  Yet this very basic premise is only half of the appeal of Suspiria, as it is probably the most striking looking movie I’ve ever seen.  Inspired by dreams, fairy tales and  gothic imagery, Argento’s most celebrated work is a treat both for the eyes and even more importantly, the ears with Goblin’s oppressive, freaky soundtrack overwhelming the movie to near bursting point.

I have seen this one many times and it is definitely a favourite of mine in the horror genre, and the murder set-pieces are among the director’s best, with a shocking, intense and hardcore opening that once seen is not easily forgotten.  Over the years I guess it’s impact has been diluted somewhat, the acting remains amateurish and the characters wafer-thin, but as with any Dario Argento film, the actors are not really the focus, and the camera work, beautiful set-design and near-artisitic violence still dazzle to this day.

The newly released Blu-ray from Cine-Excess is a mixed bag.  Sound wise it is something to behold, with a faithfully restored version of the original score reproduced to stunning effect in DTS HD Master Audio.  The image quality is less impressive, that while for the most part seems cleaner and a lot more colourful than previous DVD editions, seems marred by overly high contrast, making some scenes look excessively bright, with skin tones especially suffering.  On repeated viewings however the high-art style of the movie certainly suits the intense colour scheme and many of the set-pieces are given a new lease of life.

Extras consist of a very informative and funny commentary by horror enthusiast Kim Newman and Argento-file Alan Jones, as well as a new documentary and interviews – making this still a worthy package for fans and newcomers alike.  Just a shame the new HD print couldn’t have been a little better handled.

Verdict:  4 /5

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