Versus: Horror Movies

You never forget your first horror movie. Mine was breathlessly watching Alien at seven years old, and not sleeping the night after. The real question: can there be a best horror movie? Two contributors debate the merits of scaring.

Claire Brnjac // Arts and Culture Editor

Team Suspiria

Jaymie Marie // Contributor

The 1977 film Suspiria, directed by Italian horror director Dario Argento, is a cult classic that gives you the kind of 70s horror aesthetics you can’t find anywhere else. It’s a particularly standout film for its cinematography and nuanced themes, and in my opinion, one of the best horror movies ever made. Suspiria follows Suzy, played by Jessica Harper, as she joins a prestigious German dance academy getting caught up in a powerful and dangerous coven that (literally) hides within the studio walls. After a strange encounter with a distressed student trying to escape the dance academy, Suzy and her friend Sarah, played by Stefania Casini, begin to unravel the secrets of the academy.

When we usually think of horror, we think of a dark palette filled with dark lighting and costumes—Suspiria goes in the exact opposite direction. Filled with bright 70’s fashion like flowing sleeves, colour block patterns, and of course, the swooping curtain bangs and loose curls that Farah Fawcett popularized in the late 70’. Suspiria also makes good use of technicolour lights, interior design, and a beautiful classical score to tie it all together. Suspiria could easily be the most visually stunning horror movie of its time. Alongside the colourful design, I’ve always enjoyed the campy nature of classic horror films, and this is no exception. From excessive amounts of firetruck red blood, over the top chase scenes, and the over dramatization of horror, 70s-80s horror films have a clear style that modern directors imitate to this day in shows and movies such as Stranger Things, Super 8, and the most recent season of American Horror Story. From the SFX to the bone-chilling screams and the not-quite-fast-enough running away from an off-screen killer, Suspiria delivers everything I want from a late 70’s-80’s horror film. In the season of horror and everything spooky, I recommend viewers take some time out of their day to enjoy the timeless thrill of Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Argento’s film was remade in 2018 with a new cast and modern SFX and, although it is an incredible rendition of a beloved film, the original holds a lasting place in my heart. 

Suspiria (1977)

Team Silence of the Lambs

Saba Mohseni // Contributor

“Fly, fly, fly. Fly, fly, fly,” whispers Dr. Hannibal Lecter (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins)  as agent Clarice Starling portrayed by Jodie Foster) rushes away feeling more than unsettled. In The Silence of the Lambs, it is all about the stillness and the quiet moments. There are no flashy jump scares or blood baths in this movie. Instead, the audience is haunted by the eyes of Dr. Lecter as he is speaking directly to the camera in an intimate close up. Even more unsettling is the fact that the audience will eventually start to root for the monstrous cannibal. The lines of morality are blurred further when Dr. Lecter becomes fond of Agent Starling midway through the film. You will find the horror is not in the screams or murders but rather in the silence, in the whispers of help that no one ever heard and in all the lambs Agent Starling could never save as a child. The horror genre shines at its finest in The Silence of the Lambs because of its ability to haunt you long after the ending credits. 

The Silence of the Lambs. (1991)
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