The 100 best horror films - Suspiria

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Number 9: Suspiria

By Derek Adams, Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Sarah Cohen, Nigel Floyd and Tom Huddleston, with the generous support of everyone at FrightFest and Cine-Excess. Explore the individual top tens of every contributor.

| 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 |           | No 10 | No 9 | No 8 | No 7 | No 6 | No 5 | No 4 | No 3 | No 2 | No 1 |

9

Suspiria (1976)

Dir Dario Argento (Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci)

An elegantly choreographed dance of death

Its violent set-pieces staged with baroque extremity and heightened further by Goblin’s clamorous prog rock score, ‘Suspiria’ influenced directors from John Carpenter through to Darren Aronofsky, whose ‘Black Swan’ explicitly references Argento’s first fully fledged horror film. American dance student Harper’s arrival at a German ballet school coincides with a shocking double murder. Amid a hothouse atmosphere of adolescent hysteria, hints of occultism give way to the revelation that the school’s tutors are part of an ancient witch’s coven. By using colour filters and forced lighting, the Mario Bava-influenced Argento pushed the artificiality of the old fashioned Technicolor stock to extremes, creating a cinema of pure visual and aural sensation. NF

What the experts said

  • ‘The first 15 minutes might be the purest horror sequence ever filmed. Argento is only trying to scare us – nothing more – and he succeeds with tornado finesse.’

    Matt Glasby
  • ‘Fairytale imagery painted in blaring colours and punctuated by delirious set-pieces set to a shattering score.’

    Jamie Graham
  • ‘Dario Argento elevated the horror movie to arthouse with this Italian supernatural classic’

    Xavier Mendik
  • ‘Dario Argento’s profoundly scary horror slasher is all atmosphere, but atmosphere was rarely this scary!’

    Tony Timpone

Watch a video clip from 'Suspiria'

‘Suspiria’ has one of the all-time great opening sequences in cinema

| 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 |           | No 10 | No 9 | No 8 | No 7 | No 6 | No 5 | No 4 | No 3 | No 2 | No 1 |



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