Forty years after its debut in cinemas in February 1, 1977 Suspiria is still one of the undisputed masterpieces of Dario Argento. The director stated that Suspiria is “A bizarre, strange, nervous and very unleashed movie, which well represented that particular moment of my life. (…) Today there is still the need to be scared at the cinema, fear is cathartic, I know about it. It awakens the soul of the viewer and hits his unconscious.”
10 facts about Dario Argento’s Suspiria
1) Dario Argento’s Suspiria was inspired by Suspiria de Profundis written by English writer Thomas de Quincey. According to the director, while cinema has often addressed witchcraft, it has far less frequently addressed witches.
2) Suspiria is the first true horror by Dario Argento. Earlier movies, including Deep Red are actually thrillers, delusional and/or fearful, but with plots and settings closer to thrillers than to horror.
3) Before writing the script Suspiria, Dario Argento traveled to many European countries that are famous for witchcraft.
4) Dario Argento chose to set Suspiria in a dance school for two reasons: witches are traditionally organized in schools (or covens!) and dance is the most practiced art by witches.
5) Today’s special effects were obviously not available at the time of production. Dario Argento and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli agreed to only use live effects on the set. For example, the witch really is a 94-year old woman, recruited in a local nursing home.
6) Of Suspiria’s 1,300 shots no two shots are the same or even similar to each other. Argento said: “I wanted every shot to be bizarre, strange and reflective of the spirit of the movie”.
7) The influence of Escher is evident among the visual inspiration of Suspiria. The Dutch artist is constantly referenced in the scenery, but also as the name of a theater.
8) At the insistence of cinematographer Luciano Tovoli, the color of blood in Suspiria has an unnatural bright red color. Dario Argento accepted the suggestion because he wanted to make a movie that was “beyond reality”.
9) The most celebrated of Dario Argento’s films in Italy is Deep Red, but abroad the Roman director is best known for Suspiria. Among the biggest fans of Suspiria there are Diablo Cody, Quentin Tarantino and Nicolas Winding Refn, who often mentioned Suspiria as one of their sources of inspiration.
10) The scene of the murder of the blind man (played by Flavio Bucci) was shot in Königsplatz in Munich and took a week to complete because of the complicated camera movements. Königsplatz is an impressive place, historically famous because it was used by Hitler for his rallies and military parades. A majestic place but also an intrinsically evil one, consciously chosen by Dario Argento to appear in Suspiria, where the focus is evil itself.
Ilona Catani Scarlett