Suspiria (Japanese)



Suzy Banyon, a young American ballet dancer, arrives one stormy night at the Tanz Akademie in Freiburg, only to be refused admission. She encounters a student at the entrance, Pat, running away distressed & mumbling, who that night is brutally murdered.

When Suzy arrives at the school the next day, the head teacher Miss Blanc & instructress Miss Tanner are being questioned by police. After she has a mysterious fainting spell in class, Suzy is ordered to stay in the school. Becoming increasingly suspicious of the teachers, especially after the death of the academy pianist, Suzy & another pupil, Sara, decide to investigate.

Suzy however, has been drugged, & Sara is forced to carry out the search alone; she is savagely attacked & has her throat cut whilst trying to escape from a room full of piano wire. Misses Blanc & Tanner explain that she has left the school but Suzy is unconvinced & consults Sara�s psychiatrist, Frank; with the help of an expert, Professor Milius, he explains that the academy was formerly the home of a famous witch, Helena Marcos, "The Black Widow", & her coven.

Exploring the academy at night, Suzy remembers Pat�s mutterings about an Iris, She twists the decorative Iris on the wall of Miss Blanc�s study, which leads to hidden rooms were the coven, now being conducted by the two teachers plan to have her killed.

(We'll stop the synopsis here for any poor soul that hasn't seen this gem, but watch out for the cameo by the bird with the crystal plumage! - Alan)

Background Info

Purposely shot on out of date Kodak film stock to achieve an otherworldly glow, Argento�s supernaturally coloured hexen hit suffered all manner of censor interference outside of Italy.

Here in the UK, Suspiria�s theatrical release received cuts & escaped temporarily uncut via Thorn EMI home video, that was until the VRA (Video Recordings Act) took effect. In the early Nineties Image Entertainment released a letterboxed stereo NTSC laserdisc, but those of you out there thinking that is the definitive version, think again.

When Culture Publishers Japanese import dvd surfaced, interestingly it wasn�t as wide looking as the laserdisc, yet it contained the same amount of picture info on all four sides of the screen. A comparison of the two revealed the US LD transfer was not too subtly squeezed horizontally to give the appearance of the full Technovision 2:35:1 ratio!

As you�d expect the Japanese dvd is uncut, with slight speckling on the image throughout, though this isn�t as distracting as It sounds.

The 2:15:1 image wasn�t missing anything of great importance from the original widescreen ratio.To be honest, I�d love a full on 2:35:1 transfer, but this dvd�s enlarged image rescues details (the velvet wallpaper & various background bits & pieces) that would be otherwise lost on an authentic scope transfer, well until High Definition TV/discs are the norm.

The sound is sadly mono but I found It could withstand amplification without distortion & those of you wishing to brush up on your Japanese, will have hours of fun switching between the English & Jap soundtracks, well I did.

Colours are stable with no bleeding, something the LD suffered from badly & there isn�t a hint of digital artefacts either. The same US & Italian trailers from the LD are included along with a gore hounds wet dream - mini screen previews of the major gore scenes, don�t ya just love the Japanese!

Don�t even think about the UK dvd, although it�s been passed uncut by the BBFC on one of their less constipated days (along with the video tape) & the sound is stereo, well only just, MPEG no Dolby digital here. The real kicker is it�s a direct copy off the squeezed NTSC LD, fuzzily transferred to PAL format & the listed extra�s are nowhere to be found.

Directed by Dario Argento
Released by Culture Publishers (Japan)
Region 2 - Unrated (NTSC)
Running time - approx 98 mins
Ratio - Widescreen 2:15:1 (no 16x9)
Audio - Dolby Digital English Mono, Japanese Mono.
Extras - US trailer, Italian trailer, English/Jap subtitles
Chapter Stops (31) & mini screen gore previews
Reviewed by Simon Caleb on a multi region Pioneer DV505 & Sherwood R925 DD amp.