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The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of this film are the first 92.[1]

A ballet student goes to perfect her art in a Freiburg Academy. Of course, as young female students are being murdered, this is a bad idea.

Probably the most famous (and arguably the best, though it's often in contention with Deep Red for that honor) Dario Argento film, Suspiria is a movie that doesn't play by any rules. Fans of Umineko no Naku Koro ni will find quite a bit of value in this film, as the game and series take very heavy inspiration from it. First part of the Three Mothers by Director Dario Argento which also includes Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007).

Tropes used in Suspiria include:

  • All There in the Manual: The significance of hangings, throat-slittings, the Directoress' distinctive snoring, and the coven's deaths by asphyxiation only make sense if you know that the Directoress is the Mother of Sighs. This is important in the inspiration and the sequels, but makes less sense here.
  • Animals Hate Him: Daniel's guide dog attacks Albert, Madame Blanc's nephew.
  • Anyone Can Die: It's an Argento movie. What did you expect?
  • Better Than It Sounds/Film: Try describing the plot of this movie to someone briefly without making it sound like a silly stereotypic haunted house ride. Go ahead.
  • Blind Musician: In one scene, where there's ballet practice, the music is played by Daniel, a blind man with a guide dog.
  • Big Bad: Helena Markos Mater Suspirium, the Mother of Sighs.
  • Bizarrchitecture
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Which Argento used again in Phenomena.
  • Bookcase Passage: Helena Markos, the Directoress and Mother of Sighs is in a hidden room that can be accessed by turning the blue iris on the wall in Madame Blanc's office.
  • Color Wash: Red. Everything is red.
  • Creator Breakdown: Quite chillingly. Argento contemplated suicide for a few days after finishing the movie.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The deaths of Pat, her friend, and Sara are examples.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The final confrontation with the Big Bad is...surprisingly easy.
  • Director Allusion: The weapon used in the final scene is a dagger hidden in the crystalline tail feather of a bird statue. Argento rose to fame with a film titled The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
  • Death Trap: While following the teachers at night, Sara gets chased by an unseen killer and jumps out of a window into a room full of razor wire.
  • Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead: Once the Big Bad is killed, the threat is neutralized because the other members of the coven are powerless without the leader and die.
  • Dissonant Serenity: After defeating the Load-Bearing Boss, one could almost forgive the victor from forgetting that every last student in the school is burning to death, despite being innocent of wrongdoing, except that said students were actually in town seeing a play with a (apparently not-evil) teacher at the time.
  • Empathic Environment: The storm at the end mirrors the destruction of the school.
  • Evil Old Folks: The Big Bad of the film is an old woman.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Done with a twist. The evil in question manages to possess it into attacking its owner.
  • Fainting: Suzy faints during ballet practice supposedly because of anemia. It's actually because of an enchantment a witch put on her.
  • Final Girl: Suzy.
  • Gorn: During Pat's murder, the killer stabs so deeply you can actually see her heart being punctured, but that's only the beginning. The Magnum release is the only American release with every frame of footage (even the recent DVD releases are missing anywhere from a few frames to a few seconds of footage), and the R-rated cut is only available in a pan-and-scan cut, while the uncut version is available in both pan-and-scan and letterboxed versions.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Surprisingly, when Sara's throat is being slashed, we barely see the knife slicing and then we get a closeup of her eyes. Surprising, considered what we saw during Pat's murder.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Joan Bennett and Alida Valli as evil witches and the girl from Phantom of the Paradise as Suzy. Also a young and dubbed-over Udo Kier as psychiatrist Frank Mendel.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason why the two girls are killed.
  • Human Pincushion: Pat's friend is impaled by falling glass when Pat's dead falls through the sky light.
  • Improbably-Female Cast: The main players are all female. The male character with the most dialogue in the film is the psychiatrist, and he has only one scene at the end.
  • Invisibility: One of the Witch of Sighs Helena Markos special abilities. She tries to trick the protagonist with this ability, but it doesn't work.
  • Large Ham: Helena Marcos in the American dub, ad nauseam.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Helena Marcos.
  • Mauve Shirt: Pat, her friend, and Daniel
  • Mind Screw
  • No Endor Holocaust: Were it not for the play, the witches wouldn't have been the only casualties of the coven's destruction.
  • No Name Given: The actress portraying the Directoress Helena Markos, the titular Mother of Sighs receives no casting credit. According to the co-writer of the script, she was a former prostitute found in Rome, but apparently nobody knows anything more about her.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune
  • Red Right Hand: The incredibly ugly porter.
  • Scars Are Forever: After Suzy kills Helena Markos, the Directoress she becomes visible and you can see her burn scars from the fire that nearly killed her.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Slashed Throat: Sara, Suzy's friend, has her throat slashed with a straight razor while trapped in a room full of razor wire.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The witches-in-disguise slip a drug in Suzy's wine that comes complimentary with her meals.
  • Spanner in the Works: Were it not for one of the teachers bringing many of the students on an unexpected field trip, the death toll from the destruction of the school after Suzy defeats Helena Markos would've been much higher. It's very possible that the teacher found out and took the class on the field trip, trusting that Suzy (who had just returned after learning the truth about witchcraft and the paranormal courtesy of a lecture on the subject from a psychiatrist) would deal with the witchcraft problem before (s)he and the other students returned.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The first murder in particular is astoundingly brutal, often earning a place on lists of the most grisly murders in cinema.
  • Token Good Teammate: The teacher that took the students to see a play and in the process quite possibly saved their lives when the school went down with Helena Markos.
  • Trash the Set: The Academy's self-imploding.
  • Vader Breath: While sleeping in the dance studio due to the school being fumigated for maggots, Sara knows that Helena Marcos, the founder of the dance school and The Mother of Sighs, is in the room with them because of her loud, wheezy breathing.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The story was inspired to co-scriptwriter Daria Nicolodi by a story about her grandmother having run away from a music academy in which they also taught evil witchcraft.
  • What Could Have Been: Argento originally planned for the schoolgirls to be much younger than they were in the final product. He still had the sets constructed slightly too large, so as to maintain a sense of childlike desperation.
  • Wicked Witch: Helena Markos, the Big Bad, she's ancient, she cackles, and curses people.


  1. Which is technically true, since most of the film is psychological horror/mystery, while the last twelve minutes are more of an action film with far less gore involved.
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