SUSPIRIA comments: 99% thumbs up

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt_Stevens, Sep 18, 2001.

  1. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    The comments in this review are my opinion. Opinions are subjective. So read on and enjoy.
    Got it in last night and watched the documentary and half the film. Packaging for the LE is very heavy and unfortunately, one of the brackets holding the booklet & lobby cards in place was broken (any way to fix that?). I moved the CD to the front and the DVD to the back, that way I can open the back part of the case and not the front.
    The booklet is interesting and has an informative interview with the film's star, Jessica Harper. The lobby cards are cool, but I think some what a waste. I'd rather not have them and the price be $5 lower, but at $29 shipped, I cannot complain.
    The 2nd disc has a 52 minute documentary and it was shot in 1.85:1 anamorphic, with the scenes from the film in 2.35:1 anamorphic. Having the interviews 1.85:1 is a God-send for owners of 16x9 sets, like myself. This is a fascinating making of with interviews of the cast and crew and fans of the film will not want to miss it. The section on the 3 strip TECHNICOLOR format is of great interest to film buffs and tech heads.
    What's even more interesting is that both Daria Nicolodi and Dario Argento claim to have come up with the story for SUSPIRIA. I tend to think Daria came up with the story and Dario enhanced it. It's clear from the interviews here and in OPERA that the two lovers did not exactly split on the best of terms. It's amazing Daria appeared in PHENOMENON and OPERA, which were filmed after their breakup. Her comments in the film bio about her scream at the end of TENEBRAE are quite funny. I wonder if Dario had her dubbed by Theresa Russell for spite???
    The other extras include the U.S. and international trailer in anamorphic 1.85:1, as well as a TV commercial. There is a nasty looking shot on video music video that I stopped watching after 20 seconds because I found it to be utterly boring.
    The menu designs are thankfully quick, with the Goblin music used throughout.
    There is no commentary, thank the Lord, as Argento commentaries are a laborious exercise in frustration (I talked with Cary Roan about that a few years ago).
    Having watched about 1 hour+ of the film (in one sitting), I can safely say that this transfer is an absolute triumph. There is none of the dot crawl, chroma noise or image distortions of the Magnum laserdisc release (one of my favorites). The 3 strip technicolor images are detailed, vibrant and beautiful. On my 47" Panasonic HDTV, the image is among the best I have ever seen and would lead people to believe that this film was shot last year and not 25 years ago. Anchor Bay's DEEP RED transfer is similar in appearance and quality.
    Compression artifacts are here, but only fleetingly. The color red seems to be tough for MPEG2, but thanfully Anchor By was able to recreate that vibrant color without pixalization. Only a few scenes show the annoying pixel problem, sometimes in the fade to blacks. You won't notice this on a direct view TV (36" tube & under).
    The soundtrack is a mixed back. Owners of the laserdisc know that SUSPIRIA's PCM track is among the very best ever created. It's powerful and scary with wonderful directional dialogue and an aggressive surround presence. The new 6.1 and DTS remixes are no less impressive, but not much of an improvement (I listened to them in 5.1). The split rears sure as hell work, but the front sound stage didn't pack the extra punch I thought it would (especially during the opening sequence). Some sounds, like Sarah's screams in the barbed wire, are muted in comparison to the laserdisc's PCM track (in favor of pumping up the music). And unfortunately, the 2.0 surround track on the DVD is not the original. It is a downmix from the 5.1. I compared them and I have no doubt of this.
    Still, those of you looking for an aggressive surround track need not be upset. SUSPIRIA fits that description and I am pleased with it. The difference between the DD5.1 and the DTS is slight, mostly in the rears. I do not have a 6.1 setup, so I cannot comment on the EX nature of the soundtracks.
    Those of you worried about the film being cut, relax. After comparing one scene from the laserdisc to the same scene on the DVD, it appears that this DVD is fully uncut. I have not had a chance to compare the film's last few murder sequences, but I don't think I have to.
    During tonight's HTF chat I plan on thanking Anchor Bay for the enormous effort it took for them to acquire and release this classic horror film on DVD, as well as the other Argentos. I do hope they revisit TENEBRAE next year, as it's 4:3 1.85:1 transfer is severely lacking in comparison to the 16x9 transfers of the other Argento films, all of which were restored from the original elements.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] thumps up.
    [​IMG]
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    www.deceptions.net/superman
    P.S. I had a hell of a time posting this. Spell check wouldn't work, etc. So if there any spelling errors, please forgive me.
    [Edited last by Matt_Stevens on September 18, 2001 at 01:39 PM]
     
  2. Samuel Des

    Samuel Des Supporting Actor

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    Excellent review, Matt! [​IMG] Were you able to "resolve" your Opera LE problems?
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    Best, Sam
     
  3. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    OPERA came in yesterday evening and locks up or crashes my two DVD players and my DVD-Rom drive, so I'll just hope that Anchor Bay makes a statement tonight.
    ------------------
    www.deceptions.net/superman
     
  4. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Matt, glad to see you finally snagged a copy of Suspiria. I agree with your review 100% - it's a damn good transfer, the documentary is terrific, and that music video isn't!
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    He thought on homeland, the big timber, the air thin and chill all the year long. Tulip poplars so big through the trunk they put you in mind of locomotives set on end. He thought of getting home and building him a cabin on Cold Mountain so high that not a soul but the nighthawks passing across the clouds in autumn could hear his sad cry. Of living a life so quiet he would not need ears. And if Ada would go with him, there might be the hope, so far off in the distance he did not even really see it, that in time his despair might be honed off to a point so fine and thin that it would be nearly the same as vanishing.
    -- Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain
     
  5. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    I got the movie-only edition last night for $14 and am happy with it. For all of the weird permutations in which Anchor Bay releases their films, I'm surprised that there wasn't an "in-between" price between the high-end three-disc set and the movie-only version; I would have picked this up without the soundtrack to get the documentary, but figure that as I might listen to the soundtrack once (and watch the documentary about the same number of times) that the movie-only edition was the way to go for me, particularly as I'm not a huge Argento fan.
    I would like to see how Stefania Casini has aged, though. Good Lord, she's gorgeous.
     
  6. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    She looks OK. He hair is short and messy, but she is still a decent looking lady. Very descriptive and lively. Jessia Harper looks good for her age as well. Poor Daria is showing her age. [​IMG]
    ------------------
    www.deceptions.net/superman
     
  7. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

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  8. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Matt,
    Can you show me how I can add the saluting smiley face with flag?
    That's really cool!
    Lee
     
  9. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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  10. Ken_Pro

    Ken_Pro Extra

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    Nice review, Matt. I've got the 3-disc and my only complaint is that the music in the opening sequence is somewhat muted compared to every other version I've seen. I'm used to hearing the music LOUD over the entire opening. On this disc it fades out when Jessica's in the cab, and then it starts low when the first victim is sitting in the bedroom and then it slowly builds. I'm used to it being LOUD at the same high pitch throughout. So I missed that.
    And yes, I noticed Sara's scream got muted in the barb wire scene.
    But the movie's never looked better and probably never will.
    Great disc!
     
  11. Bjorn Thoresen

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    I just got the DVD today; the soundtrack is quite different than that on the laserdisc, to an even greater degree than I've seen mentioned.
    The whole balance of the soundtrack seems to have shifted; where I remember the music being prominent, it is much less so, and where I remember sound effects, they are indistinguishable. The opening cab ride, for example, seems muted.
    But beyond that, there is one specific anomaly to the mix that gave me a feeling of deja vu.
    On the previous Magnum laserdisc/vhs of the film, just after Pat's friend closes the bathroom window, the Goblin soundtrack starts up with the rhythmic sound of sighs, which then builds to a stronger track as Pat closes the bathroom door. This same track of sighs plays when Sarah backs against the door in the Tanz Akademie attic, where we see, but she does not, light pulsating to the rhythm of the sighs.
    When the American Cinematheque had their Argento fest a few years ago, they screened the R-Rated International Classics release of the film. Beyond the alternate title credit, I was most surprised to find the music track of sighs deleted on these sequences. I figured it was another weird change Fox made to the film before they released it.
    I was therefore surprised to find that the new DVD of the film also deletes the soundtrack sighs from these two scenes. Since the english 2.0 track is a downmix, they obviously wouldn't appear there, but they were also missing from the Italian tracks.
    From this, I would assume that their deletion reflects the existence of an alternate mix of the film, and is in fact legitimate. But still, it's weird for me to watch it without them and I feel their loss in each scene. In particular, the attic scene with the pulsating light now seems odd without an accompanying pulse on the soundtrack.
    Can anyone else comment on this? I feel confident in my observations, but I'm surprised no one else has mentioned this yet, as it's very obvious to me in viewing the film.
    -- A side note on audio:
    I was listening to the DTS soundtrack. At the layer change (after Sarah's murder), I lost audio. I have a Toshiba SD-2108; my Denon 2801 somehow lost its lock on the DTS track. I could only get back audio by pausing or fast-forwarding and then playing the DVD. Even putting the receiver on manual DTS selection didn't make it lock to the signal after the layer change. I've never encountered this problem before, but I don't have many DTS DVDs, either. I don't know whether to look to the player, the DVD or the receiver for blame. I don't suppose anyone else has encountered this problem?
    -- A side note on two of the film's stars:
    Jessica Harper has a small but effective part in Todd Haynes' "Safe," which Columbia Tri-Star put out recently. I didn't even recognize her the first time I saw it; I saw her name in the credits and couldn't think of who she could have been in the film. She plays one of the Wrenwood afflicted, and has a rather affecting monologue toward the end of the film. It's interesting to see how she's aged; her face retains its childlike quality, but her delicate frame seems almost frail.
    Stefania Casini has a significant role in Peter Greenaway's "The Belly of an Architect." She plays an Italian, but speaks in accented English; her hair is cropped short, and this makes her look quite sleek and stylish. It's a good role, requiring a very different style of acting than "Suspiria," or for that matter, "Blood for Dracula."
     
  12. Lannie Lorence

    Lannie Lorence Stunt Coordinator

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    Besides the above mention sighs deletion, how does the Italian mix compare to the old LD track?
     
  13. DeanR

    DeanR Second Unit

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    Bringing back a thread from the archives......

    I just picked up the Laserdisc today for $2. The ID# is ID6900MN. It is widescreen, has digital sound, and has the American and European trailors on it. I don't have the disc jacket in front of me but I don't recall that there is any rating on it. Is this LaserDisc edition the one that has the proper sound on it? For 2 bucks it was worth the impulse buy. Please advise. Thanks!
     
  14. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    :: The section on the 3 strip TECHNICOLOR format is of great interest to film buffs and tech heads.

    Except for the fact that SUSPIRIA was not *SHOT* in 3-strip Technicolor. It was shot on Eastmancolor negative (albeit a discontinued, very slow Eastmancolor negative stock) and *SOME* show prints were I.B. Technicolor. It's very clear when you listen to Tavolli speaking that he's talking about I.B. Technicolor PRINTING and *NOT* 3-strip Technicolor photography, but the folks who cut together the DVD documentary incorrectly cut in images of an old 3-strip Technicolor camera during his comments re: I.B. printing, which helps to muddy the issue and makes it clear that the producers of the documentary had no clue what Tavolli was talking about or how SUSPIRIA was shot.

    While the DVD video transfer is indeed gorgeous, the soundtrack remix is another issue. Aside from issues with the music balance of the remix and the missing "Sighs" from the two scenes that have been mentioned elsewhere in this thread, there are lots of sounds that have simply been dropped from the remix, and some scenes have been severely messed up in other ways. Here's a few of the problems I can recall off the top of my head:

    Stefania Cassini reacts to the sound of the dinner bell ringing BEFORE it rings on the remixed soundtrack.

    The scene where Daniel is attacked by his dog in the square sounds simply awful- the insanely barking dog sounds like he's burried under a bunch of wet blankets 300 yards away, and when Daniel speaks at normal volume his voice comparitively BOOMS out of the speaker. Also, sounds of "chanting" have been removed from the music track.

    As Suzie walks towards the witches down the hallway at the end, several lines of dialogue of the witches are missing as she approaches.

    Later in the same scene, the images goes dark and lightning strikes, but said lightning has no corresponding sound on the soundtrack.

    In the same scene, when Joan Bennett wishes "Sickness, SICKNESS, do away with her!", Suzie coughs in her hiding space, but the sound of her coughing is missing.

    For all the efforts Anchor Bay and Bill Lustig put into the video transfer on this title, I wish they'd simply included the original 4.0 discrete stereo sound mix (SUSPIRIA was released with 4-channel discrete mag sound, as opposed to 2.0 matrix-surround Dolby Stereo) from 1977 as a viewing option in both English and Italian, as well as their remix. Why they insisted on making downmixes of their remix is beyond me, and it's all the more unforgiveable given the myriad errors of their remix.

    Vincent
     
  15. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    This new transfer was done in italy and was used on their DVD release so I was wondering how is the sound mix on that disc? Does it include the original 4.0 sound track?
     
  16. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  17. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    As I understand it, the Italian DVD of SUSPIRIA contains a 5.1 remix in Italian, and an English-track that's 2.0 stereo, probably similar to the sound on the Image laserdisc that was released here in the U.S. As far as I know, the actual original 4.0 mix has never surfaced on any home video format, although the 2.0 downmix used for the Image LD should be pretty close (since there would've been no actual "remixing" involved, rather the full-ymixed 4.0 track would've been run through a Dolby encoder to make it 2.0 "matrix" surround), but given that Dolby Digital can handle any number of sound formats (2.0, 4.0, 5.1, etc.), there really is no reason for the original, actual 4.0 mix to NOT have been included on one of these releases, which is what makes the various releases of SUSPIRIA so disappointing.

    BTW, are you absolutely sure that the Italian DVD uses the same transfer as the Anchor Bay? I've heard the Italian disc is missing the end credit scroll, and some reviews I've read comparing the AB to the Italain disc from Fox indicate that the AB looks better.

    Damin: Regardless of when the post was made, this thread was recently ressurected, and nobody else in the thread ever corrected that bit of misinformation, so I did. Perhaps you can point me to the forum rules that say one can't comment on posts after they've matured past a certain date? Or does such a rule not exist?

    Vincent
     
  18. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  19. DeanR

    DeanR Second Unit

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    I probably should not have ressurected this old thread to ask if I have the LaserDisc edition that has the proper sound on it. Does anybody know the answer ?
     
  20. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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