Danny's Post Mortem Reports: Case File #1- Dario Argento's "Suspiria" (1977)

   First, thank you for being a fan of the Fried Squirms Podcast! It means the world to us that you would take the time to listen to us ramble on about some of our favorite entries into the world of Horror cinema. With that being said, this independent review has been a work in the making for a while, and what better way to kick off the dossier files than with a masterpiece from an Italian maestro of horror, Dario Argento. But before I give my take on the 4K restoration of SUSPIRIA, I should give you all a little history lesson involving my journey with this iconic piece of horror cinema.

    In 2001, I came across SUSPIRIA at a local Best Buy when distributor Anchor Bay was releasing their Dario Argento Collection. Without hesitation, I bought a copy of the DVD transfer, and soon thereafter, a viewing party was formed in the living room of my humble abode. After 100 minutes of aesthetic beauty, and a haunting yet mesmerizing score by Goblin, my friends and I were left in awe at the wonder of what we had just witnessed. SUSPIRIA would be my "first kiss" from the genius that is Dario Argento, with more romantic overtures to follow (i.e. Opera, Profondo Rosso, Tenebre)

   In the summer of 2004, I took a 2-week vacation with one of my dearest friends to Montreal and Toronto, Canada. While we were in Montreal, as luck would have it, we stumbled upon Cinema du Parc for a viewing of Maria Full of Grace. After we left the theater and made our way back into the lobby of Cinema du Parc, we discovered that there would be a special screening of the original 1977 35mm theatrical cut of SUSPIRIA for the following evening. Needless to say, we purchased our tickets for the screening and waited gleefully with anticipation for the delight to come. As the following evening settled in, and we made our way back into the lobby of Cinema du Parc, the feeling of excitement and anticipation grew within me as I was about to witness SUSPIRIA in its original format. After the final credits had rolled, and as we were collecting our thoughts, it dawned on me that we had just been a part of cinema history that very few of our contemporaries would ever experience. We pointed out the scenes that were cut from this version, and how we loved the vintage quality of the original theatrical release, along with the incredible score from Goblin in surround sound. Little did I know that this wouldn't be my last encounter with SUSPIRIA on the big screen.

   Recently, we learned that Synapse Films were involved with restoring SUSPIRIA from its original 35mm camera negative footage to its new 4K format with better picture and sound quality. The Fried Squirms were also aware of the reboot of SUSPIRIA, and the addition of Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame set to score the soundtrack, and the excitement began to manifest within the minds of Tyler and myself. Now, I must add, the Fried Squirms are no strangers to stepping outside of our studio to take in the occasional cinematic viewing experience, as witnessed by our mini-episodes of RAW (2017) and IT (2017). We were very honored and grateful to have been personally invited to see the screening of RAW at the historic Roxy Theater in downtown Missoula, Montana, and we have made it a concerted effort to support our local theater whenever given the chance. Well, as luck would have it once again, the Fried Squirms were presented with another chance to encounter a rare film at the Roxy in the form of the 4K restoration of SUSPIRIA on Saturday, October 28, 2017, for a 9 PM screening. Unfortunately, Tyler had previous arrangements that prevented him from being available, but luckily enough, I was available and more than willing to revisit an old acquaintance of mine. 

   On Saturday, October 28th, I was treated to a one-night screening of the 4K restoration of Dario Argento's masterpiece SUSPIRIA, presented by college radio station KGBA (88.9 FM). To my surprise, there was a short queue of eager moviegoers who were also purchasing tickets for the screening. After a few minutes in line, I purchased a gentlemen's beverage and had a brief chat with a friend and listener of the Squirms concerning the evening's event. I mentioned to our dear friend that I was really looking forward to seeing SUSPIRIA again on the big screen and hoping that the color palette would be expressed in the new 4K format. Moving along, I entered the theater and took my seat for the evening. After a short wait through the previews, the movie began and the first thing I noticed was how damned good Goblin sounded. I'm no stranger to the Prog-Rock Italian group, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sound system at the Roxy. The score by Goblin really sets the mood and tone for the remainder of the film. As noted earlier, I was really looking forward to the color scheme that Argento uses in SUSPIRIA, and I must say that I was not let down by the 4K restoration. The use of RED and BLUE cannot be understated when viewing an Argento film, especially in SUSPIRIA. So far, my two biggest concerns were put to rest by the wonderful job that Synapse Films performed in restoring the 35mm negative. Now, I would be lying to you if I said that this movie is perfect because it's not, but I will reserve my critique of the flaws for a later time. Some of the things that I noticed while watching SUSPIRIA with a large group of people was the fact that there were moments of laughter, jeers, fright, and pleasure interspersed throughout the film. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed not only by the amazing experience of viewing SUSPIRIA in 4K but by how many people attended the screening on a Saturday night in downtown Missoula. If for some reason you are sitting on the fence about watching SUSPIRIA, do yourself a favor and get acquainted with one of the maestros of Italian cinema, and view this film in all of its 4K glory!

   Lastly, I must say how happy I was learning that Missoula has a community of moviegoers who not only support independent theaters such as the Roxy but also by the fact that they are eager to take in foreign horror films. I am more than eager to see what future movies the Roxy has to present and I am also sold on the experience of viewing classic films in the new 4K format!

  This has been Danny of the Fried Squirms, signing off on my first post-mortem report, Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA (1977). Stay tuned for future reviews!

(psst! We ended up talking about SUSPIRIA)