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July 23, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #22 - Suspiria

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House  Number 34 - Poltergeist  Number 33 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Number 32 - The Phantom of the Opera  Number 31 - The House of the Devil   Number 30 - Evil Dead II  Number 29 - Dead of Night  Number 28 - Carnival of Souls  Number 27 - Nosferatu  Number 26 - Candyman  Number 25 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  Number 24 - Horror of Dracula  Number 23 - The Wicker Man
 (1977, Dir. by Dario Argento.)
Why It's Here:
Dario Argento reached a new plane of horror with his 1977 hit, one of the rare films that feels like a genuine nightmare while still managing to make sense.  The director, most known for his slashery giallo films, managed to enhance that formula in Suspiria by adding a touch of witchcraft and some of the most well-placed red paint blood in horror history.  And don't act like that music isn't about the best thing ever added to a horror film.  Because it is.

The Moment That Changes Everything:
The minute Suspiria starts is the minute that sets it apart from the rest of horror. The music picks up, the rain starts to pour, and everything just seems to fit perfectly into place from the starting gun. Some ads for the film famously stated that "The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes are the first 92.", but I'd take that a step farther and say that the first 10 minutes of Suspiria are a perfect piece of horror.

It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Italy was a great place for horror in the '60s-'80s, and Argento wasn't the only director who mastered their craft during that time.  Setting the tone for directors like Argento since the 1950s was Mario Bava, who also balanced his art between giallo and supernatural terror.  If you want to see him at his best, I recommend the gorgeous Blood and Black Lace, which is as good-looking as any horror film I've seen.

What It Means To Me:
Suspiria isn't really scary in any way - this is one of those movies that the people who want to see a "scary movie" might scoff at - but it's the way Argento presents his film that really sells this as a horror masterpiece.  It's an otherworldly film filled with vibrant colors and ominous sounds, and the perfomers - particularly displaced American Jessica Harper - are perfect for the dreamlike film. Argento's masterpiece is a visceral triumph that must be seen.

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