Horror Movie Roundup #5: Classics Edition (Suspiria, Halloween, The Omen)

As October draws to a close, so does my month of horror. Here is one final batch of mini-reviews to end the month. Happy Halloween!

Suspiria [1977]
Suspiria [1977]
I feel like my expectations may have been too high for this one. The plot is paper thin — an American transfers to a prestigious ballet academy in Germany, only to find out it is run by witches — and the film suffers from poorly dubbed dialogue and subpar acting. Taken on these merits, there isn’t much to Suspiria. However, as an audio/visual experience, this is unlike anything I have ever seen. Director Dario Argento uses a wide array of vivid colors to create vibrant imagery, and this is enhanced by progressive rock band Goblin’s screeching soundtrack. The music is a “hate it or love it” type deal. Sometimes the frightening music works masterfully with what’s happening on screen, while other times it feels forced and unnatural. While I’m a bit surprised to see the universal praise for this film, it is certainly a unique offering despite its flaws. 6/10

Halloween [1978]
Halloween [1978]
I hadn’t seen John Carpenter’s classic in many, many years, so I was more than due to give this another viewing. Halloween still holds up remarkably well today — the first person POV shots, the “Boogey Man” appearances of Michael Myers, the iconic score. Everything about this is top notch, which is especially intriguing given the simplicity of the plot. It’s also interesting to look back at this film that influenced so many slasher movie tropes, yet it’s one that has a relatively low amount of violence on screen. Even with several years perspective, Halloween remains startlingly effective without needing to do very much at all. 9/10

The Omen [1976]
The Omen [1976]
The Omen isn’t so much of a “scary” film as it is a well-told story. It moves along at its own pace, and it works more on building suspense rather than opting for cheap thrills. The story has seen all sorts of variations over the years — couple has a stillborn and replaces it with an adopted child that just so happens to be the Antichrist — but it’s still effective. I believe part of this is due to Gregory Peck playing the lead role. His presence gives the film additional dramatic chops, and he is a perfect fit for the role of U.S. Ambassador. My only complaints for the film come from a couple of cheap deaths, as they could have clearly been avoided with minimal effort on the part of the characters. Regardless, I have no qualms with calling The Omen a great film. 8/10

And that wraps up this month of horror. What do you think of these classics?

23 thoughts on “Horror Movie Roundup #5: Classics Edition (Suspiria, Halloween, The Omen)

  1. Fogs' Movie Reviews says:

    “However, as an audio/visual experience, this is unlike anything I have ever seen.” Which is probably why Suspiria draws such high praise… I love it. I think its a great horror movie. I love that it creates tension and suspense as opposed to busting out some monster or relying on cheap startles…

    I can understand how it wouldnt connect with people though, for sure. 😦

    Glad you concur with the classic status on The Omen and Halloween… 😀

    • Eric says:

      It definitely feels like I am in the minority on Suspiria. I didn’t really find it all that suspenseful, but I see what you’re saying. I’m glad I saw it, but it just didn’t resonate with me like it seems to with so many others.

  2. jackdeth72 says:

    Hi, Eric and company:

    More great choices!

    ‘Suspiria’ works on many levels. With its Walt Disney color pallet and elegant, somewhat sterile sets. While telling a scary story exceptionally well.

    ‘Halloween’ is a memorable melding of Carpenter’s penchant for simple, suspenseful musical riffs first experienced in ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ taken to the next level. While backstopping a very well executed spooky, scary story.

    ‘The Omen’ is a neat, concise, ‘Scary Little Kid’ film pulled up tight and held in place by Mr. Peck, Ms. Remick and a proven, stalwart cast. Augmented by a large dose of somber Gothic in overall mood, landscapes, structures and sets.

    • Eric says:

      Hi Jack, great synopses there! I think I enjoyed Halloween even more the second time around — it holds up remarkably well. I wanted to enjoy Suspiria more than I did, but I’m still curious to see more from Argento. I get the feeling that his work could grow on me more over time.

  3. Chris says:

    Too bad you didn’t like Suspiria, the narrative is indeed quite simple. For me its more about a feeling than a story, the masterful visuals, atmosphere, and creepy music. The ending was definitely the best part. Supports my theory that set designs are more beautiful than CGI.

    Glad you enjoyed The Omen, I agree with your rating, lots of memorable scenes in that movie.

    • Eric says:

      Well, to be fair, I wouldn’t say I didn’t *like* Suspiria, I just didn’t fall in love with it the way I was hoping. I definitely appreciate what it set out to do, though. What would you recommend seeing next in terms of Argento? I might still check out more of his work.

  4. sati says:

    Sorry you didn’t like Suspiria, it’s actually one of my favorites. The Omen is such a great, creepy movie, it’s absolutely timeless, same goes for Halloween – still so scary!

  5. jlo2000 says:

    Three of my all-time favourites! I had a John Carpenter festival and showed my kids (16 & 19) Assault On Precinct 13 and Halloween – they weren’t that enthused 😦

  6. Alex Withrow says:

    Yes! So glad you like Halloween as much as I do. Great great movie there. Couldn’t agree more: effective while doing very little.

  7. Anders says:

    Great choice of classics! I need to check out Suspiria, have heard a lot about it, but haven’t had a chance to see it yet.
    Talking about classic horror movies, I would like to push a bit for Rosemary’s baby, one of my favs in the genre “invisible perpetrator” 😉 Director’s of horror movies now-a-days seem to aim so much for gore and shock… There are a few exceptions, but it mostly goes out of control and in the end you loose the scary feeling. More creepy movies, please!

    • Eric says:

      Ah, Rosemary’s Baby was one that I hoped to get to last month but didn’t get the chance. If I don’t see it soon, I’ll make sure to include it in next year’s 50 Movies Project. Thanks for the reminder, man.

      And I completely agree about modern horror movies. There has been a major shift to gore and “torture porn” thanks to Saw, Hostel, etc. When done right, they can still be effective, but there are far too many that are poorly made and done just for shock value.

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