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October 9, 2018

Episode 384: Suspiria (1977)

Special Guests: Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Clare Nina Norelli
Guest Co-Hosts: Maitland McDonagh, Rob St Mary

We kick off #Shocktober2018 with a discussion of Dario Argento’s 1977 film Suspiria which stars Jessica Harper as Suzy Banyon, a young dancer who travels from New York to Germany to attend a prestigious dance academy to not do lot of dancing but, instead, to become embroiled in a mystery...

Maitland McDonagh (Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento) and Rob St. Mary join Mike to discuss this classic, atmospheric horror tale. Authors Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (Suspiria) and Clare Nina Norelli help unravel the mystery of Argento's most note-worthy film.

Listen/Download Now:

Visit Riverdale Ave Books
Read Alexandra Heller Nicholas's interview with Barbara Magnolfi
Read Alexandra Heller Nicholas's Three Mothers Redux: Kathy Acker, Pina Bausch, Tilda Swinton and Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria
Read Clare Nina Norelli's Scores on Screen column
Read about Stan Douglas's Suspiria installation

"Markos" - Goblin
"Suspiriorum" - Stan Douglas
"Suspiria (Celesta and Bells)" - Goblin
"Witch" - Goblin



  1. I seem to be one of the only Argento fans whose least favorite films of his are the Three Mothers; that includes the original Suspiria unfortunately. I love the look and music, but disliked everything else about it, and I keep returning to it each year hoping to improve my opinion, to no avail, having attempted 4 rewatches. I much preferred Luca's version, found it coherent and with a purpose that overshadowed the original, as it took the source in a different direction, which too many people hated it for. My thought is that the original is held up on this impossible pedestal that I as one of the few people not a fan of it among his work could accept the different approach to the material in a wholehearted way. I appreciated the slow burn approach to the idea of witches working behind the scenes of a dance academy where they actually danced onscreen. I'm also fast becoming a fan of Dakota Johnson as an actress. Strangely enough, my only major problem was Tilda Swinton's "secret" role, which I found distracting more than all else. But Jessica Harper's role was also a welcome nod to the original, as much as I am not that big a fan of Dario's. To-may-toe, To-Mah-Toe. Love the show, you do great work.

  2. Kevin Fucking SpaceyJan 11, 2020, 4:17:00 PM

    I have to say that every single negative complaint I’ve heard or read from critics regarding the Suspiria remake is completely nit-picky and asinine. For some reason throughout history, critics often refuse consider the possibility that a horror remake or sequel could possibly top the original or be just as good. As far as sequels look at Exorcist 3, Psycho 2 and Day of the Dead. Exorcist 3 got mixed received mixed reviews on initial release and still holds only 48% on metacritic. Unlike the first film with Pazuzu, Exorcist 3 actually has more depth when it comes to the conversations with the demon character. Pazuzu just said and did shrewd sexually inappropriate things while the Gemini killer actually has some interesting dialogue. In my opinion, 3 is just as good as 1. Psycho 2 received mixed reception due to stupid complaints. Critics wouldn’t have accepted that film regardless of what it was about. Much like The Godfather Part 2 (with Michael Corleone), Psycho 2 takes the most interesting character of the first film and focuses exclusively on him. Ebert complained that it was too plot heavy (even though Godfather 2 is as well) while some other idiot “critic” bitched about Vera Miles getting killed in such a brutal way (even though it’s a horror movie). Psycho 2 did the obsessive female survivor protagonist well before Halloween (2018) did with Laurie Strode btw. And that movie didn’t have the balls to actually kill of Laurie Strode either. Lol. Then look at Day of the Dead. Everyone loves to praise George Romero for the zombie trilogy and they usually only praise the first 2. The third film is actually the most thought provoking with the best zombie makeup effects I’ve ever seen in a movie and the characters are actually memorable. Ebert complained about the overacting. The overacting, particularly from Rhodes and the evil military men, was there to illustrate that they’re the worst of humanity. They’re misogynistic and racist. The whole concept of humans being the real villains was probably first introduced in Day of the Dead. Whenever people mention examples of strong female lead characters in movies they always jump to Ripley in Aliens and Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. Day of the Dead did that before both. It came out a year before Aliens and no one bothers to mention that. Bub is one of the best horror characters because the film actually gets the audience to sympathize with a walking corpse. The mad scientist character who teaches zombies to perform human tasks is a legitimately interesting and also creepy idea. As far as horror Remakes go, The Thing got shit on unfairly for the dumbest reasons imaginable (there are too many examples to mention). I feel like Suspiria deserves much more credit than it gets. The critics who complained about it were going to complain regardless of what it was going to be simply because it’s a remake. Unlike bad slasher remakes (Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, etc.), Suspiria does something very different and does it well. The dancing scenes were actually hypnotic and engaging and I don’t usually care about dancing. The old man makeup on Tilda Swinton rivals the Father Merrin makeup in The Exorcist. Horror movies used to have Oscar worthy performances and were actually praised by the Academy. Tilda Swinton was amazing in 3 roles. As far as horror performances it’s up there with Jack Nicholson in The Shining imo. The original was style over substance (which is fine) whereas the remake is substance over style, and it most definitely has a style. Complaining about the red dancing costumes is just as silly as complaining about Linda Blair’s chubby knees in the Exorcist 2 tap dancing scenes. Critics said that the setting was arbitrary. Scarface is a beloved remake that also drastically changes the setting. In a world where everything you’ve ever loved will get remade, this one actually adds something new to the original story much like Cape Fear, The Departed, Scarface, The Fly, Dawn of the Dead, etc.