Monday, January 30, 2012

THE MOTHER OF SIGHS

"Nothing is true, everything is permitted."

If you live anywhere in the Northwest don't fuck up and miss this opportunity to view a very rare 35mm print of Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA presented by Portland Grindhouse tomorrow night! This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience this hallucinatory occult masterpiece as it was intended: on a 50 foot screen with intoxicants flowing freely and followed by your choice of either Graveyard or Ghost who, in a cruel stroke of Swedish irony, are playing separate venues on the same night (Really? You don't think Dario Argento wanted his film followed by psych-influenced Scandinavian rock???). SUSPIRIA has been passionately revered and reviled over the past three decades so at this point you should know exactly where you stand, but allow me to provide a bit of context for the casual viewer. Italian horror cinema is characterized by evocative style over logical narrative. If you expect a linear plot with character development and rational story arc you will be sorely disappointed by this film. If watching people make stupid decisions and stand still when they should RUN causes your blood pressure to rise, you should probably stay home. And if you thought Hitchcock was misogynistic you should definitely take your date to see Beauty and the Beast instead. Of course then you'd be missing the visual poetry of maggots raining down on scantily-clad ballerinas and a pretty girl in a nightgown leaping into a beautifully lighted room full of barbed wire. On the other hand, if you've ever enjoyed a mouthful of Salvia leaves at midnight and can temporarily suspend your faith in gravitational reality, you are in for a supernatural treat of total sensory overload! To fully appreciate the bombastic impact and undeniable thrill of this film it is best to remember that it was released in the U.S. before the advent of MTV, during an era when the disjointed aesthetics of the impending music video were still relegated to the ghetto of avant-garde film. This was a time when the gritty nihilism of 1970's horror, exemplified by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House On The Left, was ceding to a lighter and more self-aware period of horror franchises and assertive teen marketing. In fact, many of us saw this film for the first time on horribly edited VHS tapes several years after its initial 1977 theatrical debut (and revival in 1979) at the height of the home video craze and when you consider the pedestrian backdrop of snappy tongue-in-cheek 1980's horror it soon becomes clear what an all out war on the tyranny of the left hemisphere of the brain this film really represents. It is an icy razor slash of baroque color, symbol and feverish nightmare logic; the disorienting celluloid equivalent of an obscure conjuration scrawled in blood. Would a ballet school really store rolls of barbed wire in the attic? Would rotting food really cause a maggot infestation of such epic proportions? You're asking the wrong questions, pal. You should be paying attention to the blue iris. The blue iris. Oh yeah, the soundtrack is brought to us by a band of mysterious longhairs credited as "The Goblins". I hear it's pretty cool...

SUSPIRIA
Tuesday January 31, 2012
7:30pm
4122 NE Sandy Blvd.
Portland, Oregon

1 comments:

Lucio H. said...

NICE review, Herr Dread! I wrote some lyrics about SUSPIRIA for a band called MONUMENT OF BONES. Too bad only 11 folks have heard the cd ... !