Wednesday, January 16, 2008

FGFC: "Suspiria"

Ah yes here we are once again for the Final Girl Film Club a.k.a. the FGFC. I'm fashionably late for it again as a matter of fact. I have an excellent excuse though. You see I believe that all important things should be put off until the very last minute to ensure that you keep your ass on your toes while you are doing it. Any simp can do something when they have all the time in the world. The pressure of the approaching time line focuses, keeps ya sharp and fearful. So that was my plan, spend the final weekend before Monday preparing my thoughts. At least that was my plan until I got a call from a friend who had just snagged “Rock Band” for the weekend and my presence would be required as without me the rockage would be severely underpowered. Fear not though my abandon for responsibility didn't go unpunished, my lesson was learned by way of an errant drumstick to the face (Message received loud and clear!).

The plan was then changed to go hang out and rock out for the weekend and return home Monday morning to spend some time with the movie and Open Office. Sadly being a non driver I rely on the word of others for transportation, I have to make plans as I live in a place where even cabs won't go. Even sadlier (or sadder if you are boring) I know a lot of unreliable people who say they will show up at about noon but don't actually show up, with nary an explanation, until after 6.

So where was I? Oh yeah This time around the movie is “Suspiria” Let's roll!

...This is the part where I mention as usual I went into the movie knowing precious little about it etcetera etcetera...


The Abridged Story
So here is how it goes down.

A dancer,Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), goes to study at a dancing academy in Germany. Unfortunately the trip turns out to be full of the bad.

For starters as soon as Suzy arrives in Germany she is greeted by terrible weather. Not only that but she has a lot of trouble catching a cab, even when she does finally get one to stop the cabbie is kind of a slapass. I mean come on man, the words she said were the same ones you said. Why couldn't you understand?

As soon as Suzy arrives at the academy she sees another student at the door talking to someone and making a quite hasty retreat. Following that Suzy is denied entrance and must crawl back into the cash cab and head elsewhere for the night.

We find out that the retreating girl has a name! Pat Hingle (Eva Axén), we find out she was kicked out of school but she really doesn't give a damn. But really whether or not she gives a damn makes no never mind as soon enough she is greeted by some Scooby-Doo eyes from outside the window just before a hand reaches through the window and Pat is treated to the good old smash, slash, stab, an hang treatment. The friend that Pat was staying with isn't left out either though, she gets the falling stained glass window shrapnel treatment. That old chestnut!

The next morning, back at the academy Suzy arrives gets to meet the creepy Miss Tanner (Alida Valli), the even creepier Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett), and the creepiest of them all the young blonde nephew of Madame Blanc, Albert (Jacopo Mariani).

Suzy is informed that her room isn't ready yet, but arrangements have been made for her to temporarily board with another student, Olga (Barbara Magnolfi). Suzy gets to meet Olga in the locker room before class, she also gets to meet Sara (Stefania Casini) whom she strikes up a friendship with.

This takes us to the scariest thing in the entire film. Olga's walls, holy black and white flower explosions!

Suzy starts piecing together what she heard Pat saying as she left the building the night before, well two words of it at any rate (so far).

Now that Suzy's room at the academy is ready Suzy decides that she prefers the power of the flower and she wants to stay with Olga instead. Blanc doesn't seem thrilled, but what can she do? Oh I don't know, how about having a member of the staff cast a little spelly spell on Suzy, how about that!

Now Suzy isn't feeling very well (damn that black magic) but Miss Tanner isn't hearing any of that noise, she wants to see Suzy dance. So dance Suzy does, poorly, I give it like a 4. I had to take away points for that whole passing out and bleeding from the nose and mouth that happened at the end.

When Suzy wakes up she finds out that; Miss Tanner would really like it if she would drink some water, she lost a lot of blood which need replenishing, shots hurt, and Olga didn't like the idea of bunking with a leper. On the plus side Suzy's new special diet does include wine, lots of wine.

So yeah, maggots falling from the ceiling? Gross! I think so, the girls think so. Unfortunately it can't be fixed until the next morning. The answer? A Pajama Jammy Jam in the dance hall!

A strange snoring is emanating from behind Suzy and Sara. Sara has heard it before, it comes from...the Directress! Dun DunDunnnnn

The next night Sara is in Suzy's room talking about the teachers walking at night. Suzy realizes it doesn't sound like they are leaving the school, They are walking away from the front door, not towards it!

Like a fool Suzy goes to Madam Blanc to talk about Pat's disappearance and if she knows anything about the words “secret” and “irises” which are the words that she is remembering from the night that Pat was killed. Blanc knows nuthink! So in her never ending pursuit of answers Suzy talks with Sara (this time in the pool). Sara reveals that the person Pat was talking to as she left the building that night, Sara was also the voice on the intercom sending Suzy away.

Sara was planning on sharing the notes on the teachers that she got from Pat with Suzy that night until they were stolen. So instead of discussing the notes she woke Suzy up to tell her how they had been stolen. Suzy is acting like she is drugged up sleepy and thus she is unable to answer when Sara asks her if she knows about witches.

Sara hears a noise and flees the room. Running the halls she is unable to find a place to hide until she finds the steps up to the attic area. In the attic the yellow eyes make a reappearance and nearly get Sara until she locks herself in a room. The lock on the door isn't very effective so an alternate escape must be made, as luck would have it there is a window. Tough luck though, the ground under the window is covered with a ton of razor (or is it barbed?) wire. Even worse luck Sara doesn't notice this fact until after she jumps directly into the middle of it. In a fit of the worst luck ever Sara is not only writhing around in the sharp wires but now she finds herself stabbed!

Back to Suzy, now awake, she can't seem to find Sara. Miss Tanner informs her that Sara snuck off in the night. Suzy obviously worried calls a friend of Sara's, Dr. Frank Mandell (Udo Kier), they make plans to meet and discuss.

Frank has spoken with Sara's family and they have no news. We learn that not only was he Sara's friend but he also was her psychiatrist in the past. Lately Sara had been concerned about some strange notions that she had been told. Notions about Madame Marcus, the founder of the academy who was a suspected witch. As Frank doesn't believe in witches much he introduces Suzy to Prof. Milius who has studied them extensively. He can answer her questions.

Once prompted Prof. Milius discusses Helena Marcus which leads to a discussion of covens and how to take them out (whacking the head witch Soprano's style baybee!).

In her room Suzy sees the Scooby-eyes peeking so naturally she opens the window to investigate. Bad move, a crazy bat flies in and makes with the attack. That is until the bat starts flying low to the ground so Suzy can cover it with a blanket and use her stool to create some mashed bad soup on the floor.

Once again hearing the footsteps going in the wrong direction Suzy decides enough is enough, she is going to investigate. She finds her way into a carpeted room, which explains why she can't hear footsteps beyond that point. This is another room with no exits other than the door she entered through...or is it? On the wall she spies three painted flowers, irises in fact. Another flashback reveals that Pat actually said “Three irises turn the blue one,” and she does which reveals a secret door. Jinkies!

In the door is a long long hallway at the end of which Suzy finds a room in which; Miss Tanner, Madame Blanc, Albert, and many others were discussing her. “She must die die die” exclaims Madame Blanc who then prays to Helena Marcus to give her the power (not of Grayskull).

Suzy turns around behind a curtain and finds the bloodied and slightly mutilated body of Sara. She doesn't really have time to freak out though as this is enemy territory so she still needs to hide. A quick duck through a door provides some cover, briefly. It turns out she is in Helena's bedroom, she hears that strange snoring and sees someone in the bed behind a curtain (lots of curtains in this place). Naturally a bit nervous Suzy knocks a lamp over which wakes up Helena.

Good new, Helena has been waiting for Suzy. Bad news when Suzy opens up the curtains there is nobody in the bed. Worse news, an invisible Helena starts taunting and warning Suzy about a meeting with the dead coming up very soon. Good news, Sara is back! Bad news, she is a knife wielding zombie. Good news, Helena isn't 100% invisible anymore and thus is once again stabable! Bad news, now that Helena is dead (along with the entire coven) the building is tearing apart.

Suzy makes a run for it and escapes just in time and walks off to live a full long happy life. Unless of course the authorities don't accept her explanation for all the deaths and destruction...but that is just my theory.

Helena would have gotten away with it all! If it wasn't for those meddling kids.....

Thoughts
First things first, the movie is visually beautiful. Even the grotesque images were done in a way that you couldn't help but admire them (in a manner). Many of the scenes had a look as if they could have easily been images plucked from the pages of a graphic novel somewhere, brilliant uses of light and color. The movie literally made me wish that I had a bigger TV and a better setup just so I could do what I was seeing justice.

I thought the dubbing was done quite well and for the most part seamlessly. I always find this kind of thing interesting, how insanely difficult would it be to get a story told when many of the actors are speaking different languages and don't understand each other. They really have to know the script and the director really needs to keep on his/her toes!

At first I thought the pacing was going a little slower than it should but as the movie progressed it started feeling really right, for the most part. Where as early on it seems to be taking a slight bit more time than it needed to the ending, though good, flew by a little too quickly.

As I said, the ending was good. Its just, the showdown between Suzy and Helena went by so quickly that it almost became anticlimactic. The visuals were awesome though, the energy outlining Helena giving Suzy a target looked really good and the undead knife wielding Sara looked awesome! I feel sorry that she didn't get her chance to attempt to make with the stabby.

The main weak point again surrounds Helena. Or the lack of her. There is a very well thought out back story for her, unfortunately it is all brought up at once fairly late in the movie. There were a few hints and whispers early on but not enough for me, or at least not clear enough. A few more bits of her story should have been dropped throughout the early parts so that when Suzy finally does talk to Dr. Mandel and Prof. Milius and gets the whole story it is more of a putting together of things we know instead of a lot of new information to remember.


Final Thoughts
While I wouldn't call “Suspiria” perfection I would call it a very good movie and a great time. It is a little bit like watching insanity unfold, but in a good way. It held up extremely well to multiple viewings, especially the visuals.

“Suspiria” was a great introduction into this type of film and I can't wait to dive back in and see what else an be found!


In other news
People whose names start with an S are sssssnakessss ...Discuss.

2 comments:

Stacie Ponder said...

"People whose names start with an S are sssssnakessss"

That was one of the weirdest moments in the entire film.

Pierce said...

It was pretty odd wasn't it? Which is amazing when you think about all of the weird things that happened in the film!

Still it did provide me with one of my favorite screencaps ever. I wish I had gotten a better view of the expression on Suzy's face, it was priceless.