Plot: An American ballet dancer is accepted into a prestigious Russian dance school. However it turns out to be a front… for murder.
Cast/Crew: Written/Directed by Dario Argento, starring Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion (the ballet dancer).
• Being 1977 and a foreign film, I don’t expect high production values, but the audio levels on this (BLU-RAY REMASTERED version no less!) was HORRIFIC. The deafening, coarse banging/screeching noises vs the whispering dialogue made me stop the film, rip the audio, levelate and sync the film again. I’ve never gone to this much trouble before. You know that grating strings/percussion horror sting you hate so much? SCREEEEEEEEEEECH! Now I’ll whisper for the next few minutes. Jesus!
• It’s minimal dialogue, stilted acting, obnoxious sound design and surrealist sets SCREAM pretentious director. What some horror turtleneck fuck would see as stylistic flourishes and ground-breaking cinematography, I see as cheaply-presented, gaudy tripe. I hung a white sheet in the gymnasium and pointed a red bulb at it – I am an artist! It looks cheap, it makes no sense in the film, and the acting and storyline is poor. What am I supposed to cling on to?!
• The murders are quite cheap: fast-editing, use a retractable blade on an already bloodied shirt, that kind of thing. Generally unsatisfying, and no nudity. Best part is a hanging death.
• Anything plot-wise? The pupils & teachers constantly bring up money/the cost of things. Suzy faints and bleeds from her nose and mouth, and no-one attends to her. Later they force water direct from a large glass jug straight into her mouth, that was pretty funny. There’s one decent bit – someone filled a chest in the attic full of maggots, which made maggots ‘rain down’ the lower floor. It’s a cool idea, just don’t think about it or it’ll kill kayfabe.
• I tried, really really hard with this film. I lasted as long as I could. I made it an hour in. It’s rare I can’t finish a film – this technically makes it worse than Leprechaun Origins. Only one thing worse than a terrible film, and that’s a terrible, pretentious film.
OVERALL: You get the idea! A ‘post-modern film as an artform’ bollocks at it’s worst. Cry expressionism, subverting conventions or whatever buzzwords you like, but it doesn’t hide an incoherent, slapdashed plot, cheap horror and boring dialogue. Avoid like the deep inhaling of someone else’s farts. #35, my arse.