Mar 25, 2016

13 Things You Didn’t Know About Suspiria

Article By: Tyler Doupe

Italian horror is finally getting some much-deserved recognition via special edition Blu-ray discs, retrospective theatrical screenings and more. Most avid horror fans have seen Suspiria enough times that they can recite most of the dialogue from memory, but we keep going back to it time and again. There’s something about it that gives it a staying power not always seen in other horror pictures from its era, so much so that a remake starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson is currently in production.

When it comes to trivia, there are certain things about the film that every horror fan is likely to know. But we’ve dug a little deeper and searched through old interviews, DVD commentaries and more to bring you some slightly lesser known facts about this horror classic. With that said, we now present to you 13 Things You Didn’t Know About Suspiria.

1. It is the first Italian film (horror or otherwise) to employ the use of a Steadicam

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Now, it’s commonplace for filmmakers to utilize a Steadicam for large portions of a film but it was still groundbreaking technology at the time of the film’s release and Suspiria is the first Italian feature film to make use of the technology. 

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2. Daria Nicolodi’s grandmother inspired the film’s story

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In an interview with GoreZone UK, Daria Nicolodi confirmed that the script for Suspiria was inspired (in part) by stories her grandmother told her when she was a child. The script also draws inspiration from Suspiria de Profundis

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3. Daria Nicolodi almost didn’t received a co-writing credit

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Nicolodi has actually said that she wasn’t sure if she would even receive a screen credit for her contribution to the script until a few days before the premiere. That experience informed her decision to bypass even attempting to secure a screenwriting credit for the film’s 1980 sequel Inferno. 

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4. Most days, sound was not recorded during shooting

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Actress Jessica Harper revealed in an interview that sound recordings were rarely taken during production because it was always the plan to dub the audio track during postproduction.

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5. It is rumored that Argento recruited an ex-hooker to play in the film

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It is believed that the uncredited actress that plays Helena Markos was a 90-year old ex-hooker. According to actress Jessica Harper, Argento found her on the streets of Rome and asked her to be a part of the project. 

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6. It was initially planned for the ballet school to cater to preteen girls

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This became a concern for securing financing because a film that dealt with such brutal violence and such young girls wasn’t seen as being viable or likely to be marketable. The film was originally written with the central characters being 12 years old or younger but reportedly never underwent a rewrite to accommodate the change in age of its leads. This explains why some of the dialogue seems slightly juvenile at times.

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7. Director Dario Argento took to playing the soundtrack on set at loud volumes to elicit a reaction from the cast

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To keep the core cast unnerved, Argento would play the film’s soundtrack on set at loud volumes. The effort worked. The cast all delivers great performances and appears unhinged at all the right moments.

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8. Daria Nicolodi has a voiceover role in the film

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In addition to appearing in several of his other film’s Argento’s long time partner Daria Nicolodi provided the voice of Mater Suspiriorum in this 1977 cinematic classic. 

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9. Late scream queen Tina Aumont ("Torso") almost appeared as Suzy Bannion

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The actress was offered the starring role but was unable to accept due to a scheduling conflict posed by another project with which she was involved. 

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10. Jessica Harper and Stefania Casini were instructed not to make waves in the pool scene

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In the scene where Sara and Suzy are swimming in the pool, the actresses were told by director Dario Argento to move as little as possible because he wanted a tranquil feel to the scene. Although the request may have seemed outlandish at the time, the end result translated beautifully to the screen and the whole sequence has a very serene quality to it. 

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11. Rice was used to create the appearance of maggots in certain scenes

The wide shots where maggots appear to be raining down on the actresses’ heads were accomplished by using grains of rice. Naturally, real maggots were used in the close up shots. 

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12. Actor Fulvio Mingozzi appears in both Suspiria and the 1980 sequel Inferno

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In both films the actor plays a cab driver. He can be seen taking Suzy from the airport to the academy in Suspiria and he also pops up as Sara’s cab driver in Inferno. 

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13. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was a surprising influence on the film

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It is believed that director Dario Argento asked cinematographer Luciano Tovoli to watch Snow White to inspire the creation of the film’s color palette (which relies heavily on deep red hues and other primary colors).

Tyler Doupe is a film critic and journalist. He is the managing editor at Wicked Horror and an occasional contributor to Fangoria and Rue Morgue.

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