The Body Horror Of SUSPIRIA (2018) And BLACK SWAN, An Instagram Nightmare And MORE!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Dances of Death: The Body Horror Of Suspiria (2018) And Black Swan
- Image of the Week: RIP Stuart Gordon
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: He Wants To Eat Your Blood
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
Dances Of Death: The Body Horror Of Suspiria (2018) And Black Swan
One of our most ironic cultural misperceptions is that dancing, as a sport and a profession, is easy and frivolous, a thing “for girls”. Dancing is for everyone, but that doesn’t mean everyone can excel at it. The world of dance is gatekept by the white and wealthy, and dancing professionally is a grueling endeavor. There’s no shortage of films about dancers, but few that showcase the real horror of a body pushed to the limit in the name of passion and perfectionism like Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.
Both films portray the body as beautiful and grotesque, sexual and repulsive, powerful and pathetic. The sound of breath and heavy footsteps are ever-present in Suspiria, lending the whole film an essence of grounded physicality despite its otherworldly witchiness. Natalie Portman as Nina in Black Swan is all barely-repressed, big emotions bubbling to the surface of a very reserved young woman hiding behind poise.
With increased physical strength and the strain of repetitive motion after hours of daily practice comes serious bodily injury like bloody toenails, torn muscles, and broken bones. We watch the dancers of Suspiria and Black Swan breathe, sweat, groan, and cry while riping feathers, knives, and organs from their bodies. In Suspiria’s most harrowing scene, Susie (Dakota Johnson) unknowingly uses dance-induced witchcraft to contort classmate Olga (Elena Fokina) into a human pretzel. Meanwhile, Nina pours so much of her body — and far too much of her mind — into embodying the Black Swan of Swan Lake that she begins to believe she is the character, hallucinating a visceral transformation as her spine cracks and her eyes turn black.
Both films showcase how dancing also takes a toll on dancers’ mental health as a competitive industry that places so much scrutiny on the body. Suspiria’s dancers are traumatized by recurring nightmares they perceive as a normal side-effect of an intense dance school, and Nina, trapped in her home by a controlling mother who encourages disordered eating, is terrified of acknowledging deep-seated emotions like lust and jealousy.
To dance is to use nothing but your body to express and incite a complex range of sensations, demanding extraordinary amounts of dedication from the performers while they put themselves through hell in the pursuit of perfection. At their cores, Suspiria and Black Swan are about the horrifying ways one’s greatest passion can wreak havoc on the mind and the body, and the horrors such devotion can unleash.
*Laura Di Girolamo is a film journalist, lover of beautiful spooky nonsense, and the co-director of The Bloody Mary Film Festival. Her work has appeared in Exclaim!, Rue Morgue, Grim Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, Daily Dead, and various other places around the web. You can read more of her writing on her site or follow her on Twitter.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
RIP Stuart Gordon
Last week we said goodbye to legendary cult horror filmmaker Stuart Gordon. From Re-Animator and From Beyond to Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, his filmography showcased both his love of Lovecraft and his immense heart. Many in the horror community have lost a hero, while others have lost a friend. As Mick Garris said, “to know Stuart Gordon was to love Stuart Gordon.” He will be missed.
Self-isolation shouldn’t drive you mad. New members can try Shudder free for 30 days when they sign up online with promo code: SHUTIN
ANIMAL CROSSING, THE STAND AND MORE
But, as we continue to self-isolate and practice safe social distancing — seriously, stay home — we’re getting more suggestions of what to watch like these 10 classic horror movies, this list of must-stream movies like The Wicker Man, and CNN’s list of 1,000 hours of TV to stream featuring none other than Supernatural.
Rue Morgue has made its current March/April 2020 edition of the magazine available for free through their app.
IndieWire encourages folks to check out the 1973 vampire love story and lesser-known masterpiece, Ganja & Hess.
This hyper-specific list of 10 great horror movies featuring dollhouses features one of our editor’s favorites — A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
The cast of Contagion had a virtual reunion through Columbia University to put together some deeply necessary PSAs about COVID-19 and how we can all slow the spread of the virus.
Stephen King shared a chapter from The Stand that chillingly breaks down just how a virus is spread during a pandemic.
The original movie poster for The Invisible Mansold at auction for nearly $200,000.
Animal Crossing fans are using New Horizons to showcase their combined love of cute animals and horror.
Stylist investigates why horror movies can actually help perk you up during self-isolation.
With that in mind, maybe you’re looking for a literary plague to help soothe you? The Spectator has some recommendations.
THINGS WE LOVE
He Wants To Eat Your Blood
Enjoy Double Tap, the deeply funny and profoundly creepy horror short from Eros Vlahos. Just don’t piss off the Dickless Troll. You’ve been warned.
HEY, THAT’S US! – SHUDDER IN THE NEWS
Stay Home, Watch Horror: 5 Cult Horror-Comedies You Should Stream This Week (Slumber Party Massacre II, Tammy and the T-rex)