Don’t know how you resisted posting this quote:
Don’t know how you resisted posting this quote:
I saw SUSPIRIA (1977) last weekend (baby’s first giallo) and had such a good time. The tone was so interesting to me, the blend of truly brutal, disgusting violence with the highly aestheticized slightly supernatural world, the mix of the tongue-in-cheek and the serious. The shocking bits were genuinely shocking but it didn’t have the overarching sense of pornographic misery endemic to contemporary American Hollywood-horror or the hard-camp of indie horror. Curious about this remake now.
I tried to watch the original too the other day, I loved what I saw but couldn’t get past the dub. Even in the original version, all dialogue is dubbed! I’m surprised I had never heard about it. The lip syncing is about as good as you’d expect from an Italian 1977 movie
Now hit up Phenomena which randomly switches dubs in the best available cut and has far less tone control.
Also the main influence on the game Clock Tower. Great movie!
I also recommend Deep Red, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, and The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, in that order.
Phenomena is about a girl who gains bug superpowers apparently just by loving bugs a lot which is #goals
Amongst the 260 odd pages of Kathy Acker’s 1993 experimental novel My Mother: Demonology, somewhere near the front of that iconic postmodern feminist writer’s book is featured a chapter called “Clit City”. Framed from the outset as her reimagining of the 1977 Eurohorror classic Suspiria, that film’s director is lovingly acknowledged as she states on its first page that the chapter is “dedicated to Dario Argento, of course”. Structurally, many of the key elements of Argento’s films are there, indicated by subheadings such as “I go back to school”, “The eradication of maggots”, “One murder leads to another”, and “A bat and I become friends”. But in her own unique style, Acker reimagines Suspiria as something uniquely her own; visceral, queer and confronting in a way that was so representational of Acker’s broader artistic practice.
In this idiom, Luca Guadagnino’s so-called 2018 ‘remake’ of Argento’s beloved horror film is less a straightforward retelling than it is a powerful and playful reconceptualization along the lines – although strikingly different to – Acker’s “Clit City”. Like Acker’s work, Guadagnino and writer Dave Kajganich rely on the basic plot elements on Argento’s original. The 2018 Suspiria – like its predecessor – follows an American dancer called Suzy Bannion (Dakota Johnson) who travels to Germany to further develop her studies in dance. Her arrival coincides with the mysterious disappearance of Patricia Hingle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who we see anxious and paranoid in the film’s opening scenes, fearing for her life and seeking help. Arriving at the prestigious dance studio of Helena Markos led by Madam Blanc (Tilda Swinton), Suzy’s dedication to and obsession with dance is increasingly and inextricably linked to her involvement in the mysteries that lie at the heart of the training institution as her friend Sara (Mia Goth) investigates Pat’s disappearance and the truth is revealed to the girls: that Madam Blanc’s dance studio is the front for a coven of witches.
But in general terms, this is where the similarities end. As someone who in 2015 published the first (and what currently remains the only) full-length book in English about Argento’s Suspiria, it is a curious feeling for me to state what I see as an inescapable fact when approaching Guadagnino’s Suspiria: questions of fidelity and adaptation are, to be blunt, the least interesting thing about it. Like Acker’s “Clit City”, Guadagnino’s Suspira begins with the essence of Argento’s film as its starting point, but then does something wholly unique with it. A trusted colleague who had already seen the film before I did recently at its North American premiere at Austin’s Fantastic Fest in late September noted that Guadagnino’s Suspiria is as much indebted to Rainer Werner Fassbinder as it is Dario Argento. In terms of its intense and explicit focus on the public unrest surrounding domestic terrorism and the Baader-Meinhof Group, the 2018 Suspiria is as much a horror film reimagining of Fassbinder’s Die Dritte Generation(The Third Generation, 1979) as it is a remake of Argento’s original movie.
But of course, in terms of the core mythology that drives Guadagnino’s Suspiria, the imprint of Argento’s film is impossible to deny. Along with his (often overlooked) collaborator Daria Nicolodi, at the heart of both versions of Suspiria lie the three mothers; Mater Suspiriorum (the Mother of Sighs), Mater Lachrymarum (The Mother of Tears), and Mater Tenebrarum (The Mother of Darkness). Each mother would form the basis of Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy, with Suspiria followed by Inferno (1980) and The Mother of Tears (2007). The ‘three mothers’ motif was the brainchild of Nicolodi, who read Thomas De Quincey’s 1845 work Suspiria De Profundis (Sighs from the Depths) and discovered in his prose-poetry essay “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow” the basis for what she felt would be the perfect foundations for a horror movie. Guadagnino too basis his film on the first of De Quincey’s three mothers, but perhaps even more than Argento – with his focus on the intense social and political turbulence in 1977 Berlin where his film is set – underscore’s Rei Terada’s suggestion that De Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis is at its heart a work about trauma: it “accounts for what happens when the mind does understand what no one should be able to understand”.
This notion of conceiving the inconceivable lies fundamentally at the heart of both Argento’s 1977 Suspiria and Guadagnino’s 2018 film of the same name, and both films – in very different ways – explore new ways of understanding that rely heavily on transcending the intellect and surrendering to the somatic: in Argento’s film, this stems from the unambiguous sensory assault of sound and vision that render it one of the great achievements of 20th horror cinema, and in Guadagnino’s version, this is achieved through tightly weaving the act of dance itself with what writer Kajganich described in a Q+A session following its North American premiere as “spell-casting”. We can use this as a springboard to discuss the three ‘meta’ mothers whose significance to the 2018 Suspiria in many ways feel as central as Maters Suspiriorum, Lachrymarum and Tenebrarum themselves: Kathy Acker, Pina Bausch, and Tilda Swinton.
it’s out now. i saw it. it’s mostly pretty boring.
I finally saw this remake and I was wrong. The movie was nothing like the trailer. It wasn’t dull and dreary, and it didn’t just slot right in with other prestige horror movies. It did something different. It went full giallo. The 2018 version of giallo.
To be clear, I liked it a lot. Surprising commitment to its period setting, with a ton of thematics centered around violent political conspiracy, including persistent reference to the fraught process of denazification in West Germany in the 70’s and resulting political violence. Very interesting portrayal of magic rituals via modern dance. Huge commitment to actually showing what I took to be legit and quite impressive avant-garde dance (though I don’t know much about the subject). A very unexpected swerve into a histrionic finale that felt more authentically Argento-esque than anything else in the film. Sort of out of place but I loved it.
The only thing I didn’t really care for was the Thom Yorke soundtrack. Much of it was serviceable, but whenever he started singing it took me right the fuck out of the movie, especially during the ending. For a film so invested in a 1977 aesthetic, that music is a total anachronism in a way that doesn’t fit the vibe at all.
One more thing: on the way home, at 2:30AM, my buddy and I saw a parked car sitting in a random empty lot. Its passenger door was open and there was a man standing right next to the car intensely dancing. We were too far away to hear the music, if there was music.
I totally flipped out, what a thing to see after that movie!
Ok, you’ve convinced me to give this a shot when it turns up on amazon or something.
One thing that definitely makes me appreciate Netflix over Amazon as a funding studio is that Amazon didn’t put this on their streaming service as part of Prime .
I agree 100% with Richard Brody’s review of the film:
“For all the new movie’s talking points, any random shot of Jessica Harper in Argento’s “Suspiria” has more vitality, presence, and resonance than even the most dramatic ones by Guadagnino of Johnson, not because of a difference in talent between the actresses, but because Argento sees Harper. Guadagnino is so busy directing a movie about women in the abstract, witchcraft in the abstract, dance in the abstract, terrorism in the abstract, the Holocaust in the abstract, Berlin and Germany in the abstract, that he doesn’t see the people, the places, the characters that he’s filming. His camera sees nothing.”
I watched about half of this without subtitles before the lengthier conversations in German because Tilda Swinton is fascinating whatever the language barrier.