I can count the number of horror films that honest-to-goodness blew my mind, and troubled my dreams, on the fingers of one hand. At the top of the list is the late Texan and once-upon-a-time Austinite Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which, four decades after its release, retains every single squirm-inducing element of cinematic discord that it arrived in theatres with in October 1974. Running an extremely close and far more crimson second is Dario Argento's Suspiria, made three years later, and now restored to a previously unseen 4K luster by Synapse Films. The two films couldn't be more different if one of them was in black and white. Hooper's is so up-close and personal it downright violates your space, but Suspiria – taking a page or three from Hitchcock – is dizzying in its theatrical distance. Everything you may have heard about this clinically lensed, red-and-blue fever dream of a film is true, up to and including director of photography Luciano Tovoli's masterful Louma crane work and Goblin's windswept score. Argento employs his sordid palette and Grand Guignol production design to simply outrageous effect. Essentially a fairy tale, the wispy plot has Jessica Harper, fresh off De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, as an American student trapped in the witchy Tanz Dance Academy in rural Germany. Possibly the most vivid and eye-popping horror film ever made, early word on Synapse's wildly anticipated restoration is exultant. – Marc Savlov
In the age of peak TV, it's easy to write off everything that came before as small-screen schlock. Yet, there have been golden eras before, like the reign of the TV movies. Most are lost, but bizarre gems still survive, like 1982's Fantasies. Made for NBC by veteran TV director William Wiard, and loaded with cast regulars from daytime staples like General Hospital and All My Children, it was part thriller, part slasher, and part inside joke on the soap industry. TV historian Amanda Reyes explained, "It was one of the highest-rated movies of that season, but it's almost completely lost now." Even the rare copy she will show this week lacks its opening titles, but she said, "It's really glossy, and very Eighties. It's beautiful in its way, and everyone is really glamorous." However, there's more here than Dallas-style duplicity, or Dynasty-esque huge shoulder pads. "It's actually inspired by some real-life events, and how we blend fiction and reality. Especially with soap-opera actors, because they were so much a part of our lives every day. They took these real-life cases, and made this fluffy film that has a lot of depth to it." – Richard Whittaker
Suspiria (1977) D: Dario Argento. (R, 98 min., subtitled) Newly Restored. @AFS Cinema, Friday, 10pm; Saturday, 4:30, 10pm; Sunday, 1:30, 7:30pm; Monday, 4, 7:30pm; Tuesday, 7:30pm; Thursday (9/7), 9:10pm.
Fantasies (1982) D: William Wiard. (NR, 120 min.) Daytime After Dark. @Austin Public, Monday, 7pm.
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