The uncanny score and the deeply hued palate set you on edge, but it’s the brutal double-murder extravaganza that kicks off Suspiria that cements its reputation in horror movie history. Following the impeccably executed first ten minutes, Dario Argento could have finished the rest of the film in his sleep and it would still rank among the best of the genre. Thankfully, he doesn’t, and though Suspiria could fairly be accused of blowing its wad prematurely, the spectacle of the opening scene undeniably gets your attention. It’s probably for the best that Argento never tries to trump the sanguine theatrics of the opening ceremonies, instead perfecting his particular brand of horror that ebbs between moody exposition and hyper-stylized slaughter.
And yet death is not taken lightly in Dario Argento films. Whereas most horror films casually and expediently dispatch with their red shirts as a means to build momentum and create cheap thrills, he gives his victims star treatment. The murders in Suspiria are few and far between, but each is staged as its own baroque set piece. The second I’m particularly fond of, a midnight stroll through an empty town square that seems destined to go horribly wrong, the pulsing question being how? There’s no sense in spoiling the fun of it all, but it quite literally leaves a mark, and if you haven’t already, you get the feeling that it’s an honor to die in an Argento film.