Scen.: Dario Argento, Daria Niccolodi. F.: Luciano Tovoli. M.: Franco Fraticelli. Scgf.: Giuseppe Bassan. Mus.: Goblin. Int.: Jessica Harper (Susy Banner), Stefania Casini (Sara), Joan Bennett (Miss Blanke), Alida Valli (Miss Tanner), Flavio Bucci (Daniel), Barbara Magnolfi (Olga), Susanna Javicoli (Sonia), Eva Axen (Patty Newman), Miguel Bosé (Mark), Udo Kier (professor Frank Mandel), Renato Scarpa (professor Verdegat). Prod.: Claudio Argento per Seda Spettacoli. DCP. D.: 97’. Col.
“I’m searching for panic, which is at another level to terror, it penetrates even further. If one wishes to compare panic to fear, we can say that fear is a 38-39 degree fever, while panic is 41 degrees. Therefore, it’s delirium”.
That’s how Dario Argento described his work to a Rai 3 interviewer during the sound mixing of Suspiria. Obsessive and childlike, the thirty-six-year-old director immodestly exhibited his delight on Tv as he perfected the sound effects, combining the obsessive rhythms of Goblin (composed before the film was shot) with the images.
In his autobiography, Argento recalled sitting in his car outside the Metropolitan Cinema in Rome, waiting to see the reaction of the public the evening the film was released: “Those who saw the film were overcome; their eyes possessed, their faces disfigured by grimaces of pure horror. That’s when I knew I had done it!”.
In the evolution of Argento’s canon, Suspiria represents his first experiment in pure horror. Forty years of worshippers, from Stephen King to Rotten Tomatoes, without counting the infinite number of aesthetic and semiotic critical interpretations, a legion of imitators in the media and in particular in advertising, have all contributed to substituting the panic evoked at the time by Suspiria in half the world with the pure enchantment of watching an astonishing psychedelic tour de force. How this was generated is illustrated, sequence by sequence, by Luciano Tovoli, a close collaborator of Argento’s on various occasions, in the recent volume On Suspiria and Beyond. A Conversation with Cinematographer Luciano Tovoli (edited by Piercesare Stagni and Valentina Valente, Artdigiland, Dublin 2018): “during the making of Suspiria, I tried never to let an image get through that did not contain a chromatic contrast, what in painting is called a disturbing element. We were conscious that we were creating something new and strong, for which neither spectators nor critics were prepared. Someone, commenting on my work, spoke of ‘bad taste’, which I have always considered a fine compliment!”.