Suspiria (1977) Poster



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Director Dario Argento's original idea was that the ballet school would accommodate young girls not older than 12. However, the studio and producer Salvatore Argento (his father) denied his request because a film this violent involving children would almost certainly be banned. Dario raised the age limit of the girls to 20 but didn't rewrite the script, hence the naiveté of the characters and the occasionally childlike dialogue. He also put all the doorknobs at about the same height as the actress' heads, so they would have to raise their arms in order to open the doors, just like children.
The woman playing Helna Markos is not credited. According to Jessica Harper, she was a 90-year-old ex-hooker who director Dario Argento found on the streets of Rome.
Dario Argento was inspired to make this film by stories of Daria Nicolodi's grandmother, who claimed to have fled from a German music academy because witchcraft was being secretly practiced there.
Director Dario Argento composed the creepy music with the band Goblin and played it at full blast on set to unnerve the actors and elicit a truly scared performance.
It is often assumed that, to achieve the rich color palette, the film was shot using the outdated three-strip Technicolor process. This is not true. No film made after the mid-'50s was shot using this method. This film was instead shot on normal Eastmancolor Kodak stock, then printed using the three-strip Technicolor process, utilizing one of the last remaining three-strip machines. This issue has been confused somewhat by the fact that, on the 25th anniversary documentary featured in the three-disc DVD set, a discussion of the printing process by cinematographer Luciano Tovoli was followed by a diagram showing a three-strip camera.
The Dario Argento biography "Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds" takes it title from the line that Udo Kier says in this film.
The first Italian film to make use of the then newly invented Steadicam.
The voice heard whispering on the bizarre soundtrack by Goblin is that of Goblin band member Claudio Simonetti. Simonetti stated in interviews that much of what he whispers on the music score is just gibberish.
According to Jessica Harper, since the film was going to be dubbed after principal photography, sound was rarely recorded during shooting. Harper remarked that it was strange to her to be in the middle of shooting a scene and hearing the background sound of a stagehand hammering away on another set in the studio.
Dario Argento cast Jessica Harper as the lead after seeing Harper's debut performance in Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise (1974).
For the wide shots of the "maggots" falling from the ceiling, the crew would drop grains of rice down onto the actresses from above.
Final film of Joan Bennett.
While shooting the scene where Suzy and Sara swim in the pool, Dario Argento instructed the actresses to stir the pool waters as little as possible to give the scene a more tranquil look.
Dario Argento had cinematographer Luciano Tovoli watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to have him model the color scheme of that film for this one.
Dario Argento cast Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc because of her association with director Fritz Lang, of whom Argento was a great admirer.
In an interview, Jessica Harper said that many of the actors spoke different languages during shooting, mostly Italian and German, and it would make communicating difficult at times. However, since the film would be dubbed into English for American release, it was deemed not to be an issue during filming.
The first part (with Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007)) of a trilogy of films about the "Three Mothers".
Originally the film was to have starred Daria Nicolodi, who was Dario Argento's girlfriend at the time and who also wrote the screenplay. However, Argento decided to go with a younger actress. Nicolodi does appear in the film twice: she can be glimpsed in the film's opening sequence that shows Susy walking through the airport, and she also provides the gravelly voice of Helena Markos.
Director trademark: [Dario Argento] Murder victim crashes through window.
The film was shot over four months.
According to Daria Nicolodi the lead role in the film was written for her, but the studio insisted that an American actress be cast for the lead to make the film more marketable.
Eva Axén, who played the part as Pat Hingle, had to stay on the set over one week to complete her scenes.
A glass feather is plucked from an ornament. Director Dario Argento's feature film debut was directing The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970).
Director trademark: [Dario Argento] Character recalls clues from memory.
Fulvio Mingozzi plays a cab driver in this film and also in its sequel, Inferno (1980).
Tina Aumont had been offered the lead role, but due to scheduling conflicts she could not accept.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The film's finale was inspired by a dream that co-writer Daria Nicolodi once had. In the dream she said she had encountered an invisible witch and, most bizarrely, there was a panther in the room with her that suddenly exploded. The dream was written into the film, but it's a porcelain panther that explode.
Stefania Casini had a difficult time shooting her death scene. Though the "barbed wire" that she falls into was fake, the coils of wire still got wrapped around her tightly and pinched her skin painfully.
Jessica Harper said in interviews that the most frightening scene in the film for her was the grand finale where everything explodes and shatters around her as she flees the academy. Harper said that the rigged explosions were quite unnerving as they went off close to her.

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