Witchcraft is a thankful theme when it comes to scaring audiences. From Benjamin Christensen’s silent film classic “Häxan” and the Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard of Oz”, over disconcerting films about pagan rituals, inquisition, and witch burning (“The Witchfinder General” from 1968 or Ken Russell’s “The Devils” from 1971), to more recent appearances in blockbusters such as “The Craft” (1996) or Robert Egger’s indie hit “The Witch” (2015): the witch is an archetype in the fantastic and horror genre used to question Western (Christian) morality and modernity.
The choice fell on two visually-stunning movies that have recently been restored to their former glory – and with which this B-Z blends into the Cinematek's special film programme around restorations – while also being a double bill about students getting caught up in the web of sinister witch communities. “The City of The Dead” is John Moxey's British cult classic from 1963 and follows a young student who investigates witchcraft in New England for her thesis, thus encountering a cult of witches herself. “Suspiria” is the magnum opus of Italian horror maestro Dario Argento (“Profondo Rosso”, “Opera”), a macabre masterpiece, a Technicolor fever dream on the rhythm of an iconic prog-rock Goblin soundtrack, and by far one of the most haunting films about witchcraft ever made.
Nan Barlow, a young student, visits the village of Whitewood, Massachusetts, to investigate a case of 17th-centurywitch persecution. Following the advice of her professor (played by Christopher Lee), she stays at Raven's Inn, run by the mysterious Mrs. Newless, who is hiding a horrible secret. One of the best movies about witchcraft, with a sinister atmosphere that gets under your skin.
Jessica Harper plays an American ballet student who enrolls in a prestigious dance academy in Freiburg, Germany, only to discover that the school is being terrorized by sinister and supernatural events. The 4K restoration enhances the bloody violence and dazzling cinematography.