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Thread: Phantasm vs Suspiria

  1. #1

    Phantasm vs Suspiria

    As opposed to Wizard of Gore vs Suspiria. I've always felt that Phantasm and Suspiria are similar films. They came out around the same time. Employ dream logic and surrealism. Involve the supernatural (this is a given in most horror films of course). And both films are told largely from the perspective of a child or child-like protagonist. Both films are very well shot and have amazing soundtracks as well.

    For my money I've always preferred Phantasm because of two factors. It successfully tells the story from the point of view of child and captures that outlook. It's a movie that resonates if you're young of course. I don't get that quality from Suspiria. Secondly -and this is the big one for me- is that the Tall Man's plan is ambivalent and unpredictable. You know while watching the first act that the Tall Man is some sort of supernatural entity and something is going on in the mortuary but it's never clear and it's not predictable. We never find out who he is (until the sequels) or what exactly is going on.

    Whereas Suspriria (again, to me) is predictable. That is after the opening double murder. We know that there's some sort of witch cult going on and one or any number of the witches are picking off anyone who becomes suspicious of their activities. As to what their grand plan was we're never informed. Why is there a witch's coven? We don't know and the threat isn't really dwelled upon unlike Phantasm.
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  2. #2
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    The clinic of the mysterious Dr Orlof
    Interesting points, Alex, and a valid comparison. I'll admit to preferring PHANTASM too: I like Argento generally, but SUSPIRIA doesn't really 'click' for me. (It used to, when I first encountered it as a teenager: it was pretty much unlike anything I'd seen. But in retrospect, the best bits in its bag of tricks seem lifted from films I enjoy much more these days - such as RED SHOES and BLACK NARCISSUS.) Scrimm is a major bonus for PHANTASM too, for the reasons you cite above.

    However, I will say that the ambiguity within SUSPIRIA (as regards the motivations and plans of the cabal) resonate more for me than they do for you, I think.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow' (my photography website)
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  3. #3
    Spoon! Dom D's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
    Melbourne Australia
    I never would have thought of classing these two together though it does make a strange kind of sense. Suspiria seems to occupy an unusual place in the euro-cultist collective mind these days. For so many of us it was our entry into the genre and its still a mind blowing visual/aural experience and yet there seems to be a distinct lack of love for it. It seems like people only buy DVD/Blus for it to study the transfer rather engage with the film. I'm a bit guilty of this myself. it was a top 10 film for me when I first saw it but it would struggle to make my top 100 now if I had the time and patience to make one. I really can't explain why that is except to say familiarity breeds contempt.

    All the same I'd say this is pretty exalted company for Phanasm. I like it fine but it's a small film in pretty much every way (he said affectionately) and I don't think it really belongs in the same class.
    "Never let the fact that they are doing it wrong stop you from doing it right." Hyman Mandell.

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