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German title Suspiria - In the claws of evil
Original title Suspiria
Country of production Italy
original language Italian , Russian , English , German , Latin
Publishing year 1977
length 94 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Dario Argento
script Dario Argento
Daria Nicolodi
music Goblin
camera Luciano Tovoli
cut Franco Fraticelli

Suspiria ( lat. Sigh ) is an Italian horror film with surrealist elements by Dario Argento from 1977. It became the first part of Argento's " Mother Trilogy" (part two is Horror Infernal , part three is The Mother of Tears ). In this film, however, in contrast to the two subsequent films, there are no cross-references to the other two mothers or witches. The trilogy is about three powerful witches whose long-term goal is to take control of the earth.


The American Suzy Banyon comes to Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany to study in a ballet school . Already on arrival at night she meets a distraught girl who flees in panic from the main entrance of the dance academy, speaks incoherent things, the meaning of which only becomes apparent in the course of the action, and that same night stabbed down by a mysterious figure and on a rope is hung. In the days that followed, Suzy Banyon discovered that the mysterious events were increasing: For example, the attic turned out to be infested with white maggots and spoiled food, whereupon an exterminator had to disinfect the building. In addition, the school management insidiously mixes sleeping pills with the meals of the new dance student Suzy. More and more of their comrades are haunted by a murderer at night. When her friend Sandra meets, she researches witches and black magic and sets out to find the mysterious causes of the murders. Gradually, the American dance student comes across a satanic sect. She remembers the girl she ran into on the night of her arrival and whose superficially confused words lead her to a secret door, behind which she meets the 140-year-old Greek witch "Helena Markos", who once died in 1895 Dance academy and awakened from sleep behind a white curtain in a bed. Suzy stabs her in the throat with a knife and escapes from the dance academy when it goes up in flames.


The film is still one of the world's most famous films by the director Dario Argento, who is revered by fans as the "Giallo Pope" . After the success of the film, it was expanded to a trilogy, after the second part, Argento turned Horror Infernal (1980), which loosely spins the story of Suspiria with an almost completely changed cast , and finally the Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (La terza madre) . The first film Argentos after Inferno seemed to be a further sequel according to the title, the title Tenebre - The cold breath of death (Latin: darkness) alludes to one of the three mothers around whom the story of the films revolves. This is also rather loosely based on an (autobiographical) book by the English writer Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) Confessions of an English Opium Eater , as well as his collection of essays Suspiria de Profundis , which not only provided the title, but also the basic ideas for Dario Argento and his then partner Daria Nicolodi, with whom he wrote the script. Accordingly, it is the three mothers Mater Suspiriorum, Mater Tenebrarum and Mater Lachrymarum (Mother of Sighs, Mother of Darkness, Mother of Tears) who each have their own territory (Freiburg, New York, Rome). So you could guess that Tenebre would be the expected third part of the trilogy, but that wasn't true. (Argento only used the title as a contrast to the garish, completely "dark-free" style of this film.) It was not until 2006 that Argento announced the start of filming of the third part, The Third Mother , which was completed in mid-2007.

In the films themselves, you don't learn too much about the mothers themselves, apart from the fact that there are three siblings of witches who direct murders out of old buildings. Likewise, Suspiria tells its story less through the plot than through its audiovisual style. Eastman Color 5254 negative film was used for the filming , which at that time was hardly available and from which Argento bought up remaining stocks. Positive copies were made at Technicolor Rome using the dye transfer process , on the last three-strip printer still available there. This process made it possible to intensify individual colors at will or to filter them out completely, which ensures the almost "poppy" style of the film, which is dominated by green, yellow and red and which looks very unreal and is reminiscent of fairy tales. In fact, Argento said that he used these colors because they were the colors of the old Disney films like Snow White . Even Alice in Wonderland has to be mentioned as an influence. In addition to the color scheme, Argento uses the camera (which is typical for him) to move with great enthusiasm. This was received by the critics as euphoric as it was critical. " Lewis Carroll meets Caligari, " remarked one critic, but there were also many enthusiastic voices to be heard.

"Magic is everywhere" is one of the core sentences of the film, and therefore the smallest details, such as closing automatic doors, metal balls or wallpaper, become pieces of a universe that seems to have its own inner workings.

The facade of the Gothic palace with the blood-red front, in which the ballet school resides as a camouflage for the witches' convention, was built in the studio in Italy, but corresponds to its model, the " Haus Zum Walfisch " in Freiburg in every detail. Although the plot of the film is set in Freiburg, many outdoor scenes were created at relevant locations in Munich, such as on Königsplatz , in the Hofbräuhaus , the BMW high-rise , in Munich-Riem Airport and in the Müller Volksbad . In addition, in a scene at the beginning of the film, the main character Suzy Banyon drives past the Haus der Kunst in a taxi with Munich license plates , where a special exhibition about the painter Oskar Kokoschka is currently taking place, as can be seen from a white advertising banner on the outside facade of the museum .

Noteworthy is the soundtrack of the Italian progressive rock band Goblin , who worked with Argento for the second time after Profondo Rosso and interwoven their already experimental style into a highly idiosyncratic soundscape, played with all kinds of exotic instruments, which for many is the high point of the band applies. Argento was instrumental in its creation and let it run while filming to create atmosphere.


The staff is a mixture of then rather fresh, unknown faces and experienced world stars like Joan Bennett , who mimes one of the three dance teachers. Bennett was a big ( film noir ) star of the 1940s and was best known under the Austro-German director Fritz Lang after he moved to Hollywood .

Jessica Harper , discovered by Argento in Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise , who turned down a role in Woody Allen's comedy Der Stadtneurotiker for this film (for which she had previously shot together in Boris Gruschenko's Last Night and for which she was three years was later available again for Stardust Memories ), plays one of the great main roles of her life and is still spoken to today on the street by fans for whom Suspiria is her “all time favorite”.

She plays alongside the also very young Stefania Casini ( Andy Warhol's Dracula , Andy Warhol's Bad ). Furthermore, Udo Kier can be seen, but only in one scene. Also Rudolf Schündler , a well-known German actor, while in a role as a senior psychiatrist. At the beginning of the 1970s he had a few roles in the humorous Pennälerfilm series “ Lümmel Films ” and was also seen in the German Edgar Wallace series . Schündler became known to an international audience primarily through his role as the house servant Karl in the 1973 horror film " The Exorcist " by the director William Friedkin . For the role of the witch Elena Markos, Argento wanted "the oldest person he had ever seen" and finally found a suitable actress, who was 102 years old at the time. The mute servant was originally supposed to be played by someone who was actually mentally ill, which is why Argento visited numerous psychiatric clinics , but finally found the ideal cast (Giuseppe Transocchi) in a post office.

Allida Valli, known from Carol Reed's classic The Third Man and from The Paradin Fall by Alfred Hitchcock , and Fulvio Mingozzi in the role of the unfriendly taxi driver are the only ones who star in both Suspiria and the sequel Inferno ( Horror Infernal , 1980) . Udo Kier played a leading role in the third part, Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (La terza madre) , released in 2007 .

Argento originally wanted the role of Suzanne Banyon to be played by his partner and co-screenwriter Daria Nicolodi, but under pressure from the production company 20th Century Fox was persuaded to change the role to an American actress, so that she only made a brief appearance in the first shot at the airport. Nicolodi must have been very angry about this, as it was she who developed the idea with Argento, which originated in a story that her mother (allegedly actually equipped with a second face) told Nicolodi. She has played a bigger role in every Argento film since “Profondo Rosso,” which she met Argento when she was filming, and more than a few claim that the relationship problems that culminated in a breakup in the mid-1980s originated here (but they have a daughter together, the equally successful actress and multiple Argento leading actress Asia Argento ).


For Argento, a well-known and esteemed director through his animal trilogy and above all Profondo Rosso , the film was a gigantic success that made him famous in Germany as well. In Italy it even exceeded the revenue from Spielberg's Jaws . In many circles he achieved cult status through this film, which is still unbroken today. Some even became obsessed with the film, for example a committed cineast terrorizing Argento with phone calls and asking him to discuss the three mothers with him, which Argento refused, but inspired the story of his later film Tenebre . Even Stephen King told him how enthusiastic he was about the film and pleaded with him to film The Stand , which Argento did not agree to. In return, King retaliated by refusing to write a script for Argento's episodic film about Edgar Allan Poe called Two Evil Eyes years later .

The film is almost ritually revered by fans. Since then, most of the critics have not only noticed Argento but also taken it seriously. Most of his subsequent films developed into true critics' favorites, even if there were and are still voices who accused his films of exaggerated depictions of violence and even repeatedly misogyny. The magazine " Moviestar " wrote about the publication of the Laserdisc: "Suspiria" was "probably one of the most experimental horror films ever", which some people did not agree with and criticized a "thin plot" or "weaknesses in the structure". The fans love this experimental style, and quite a few see it as the best shocker that has ever been made. Particularly popular is the incredibly complexly photographed double murder in the opening sequence (named the “most vicious murder scene ever filmed” by "Entertainment Weekly"), in which two young women are stabbed and hanged by an anonymous male arm, which is not very practical, but is all the more spectacular. as well as the mysterious death of the figure Sandra, portrayed by Stefania Casini, who falls through a high window hatch into a darkly lit room full of silver wire loops and in this wiry tangle gets her throat cut by an unknown perpetrator with a razor . Despite such drastic moments, “Suspiria” is anything but a clumsy little shock film, but a highly artistic work by a true film obsession, which is described in the book “The 100 best horror films” as an “artificial masterpiece […] of bizarre elegance and painful beauty “Was designated. The ballet dancer, who rises from a sea of ​​blood, is now not just an Argento icon, but an icon for the Italian horror film, similar to the gagged face of Christina Marsillach , the leading actress from the later "Opera", the countless fan -Articles such as T-shirts and buttons, as well as book and magazine covers.


The second part " Inferno " is seen by some as a rather weak sequel, but by others as an extension and therefore as the climax of Argento's work. Argento takes a bit of a back seat here visually, even if this film is quite idiosyncratic and intense. From the cast of the first part, only Alida Valli remains, who continues to develop her character, and taxi driver Fulvio Mingozzi. Argento himself has a guest appearance (of whom, by the way, his hand is in the picture in almost every of his films), who mimes an alchemist in one scene. One of the main roles is now played by Daria Nicolodi. The mysterious events are moved here to another old building, in which the tenants are more or less involved. Here the mother of darkness turns out to be death incarnate. This time the music was contributed by Keith Emerson , head of the progressive rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer , who is admired by Argento. Mario Bava created some effects , it was the last project before his death.

The third part of the trilogy turned Argento in 2007 under the title The Mother of Tears .


In 2018, a remake of the feature film was made under the direction of Luca Guadagnino, starring actresses Dakota Johnson , Tilda Swinton and Angela Winkler . Jessica Harper also plays in the remake.


In 1977 only one version of Suspiria, shortened by seven minutes, was released in German cinemas and directed by Hartmut Neugebauer . In Germany the film was indexed from 1983 to 2014 and only available in cut versions (FSK 18). In 2003 there was already a German re-dubbing of the missing scenes under the dubbing direction of Angelika Scharf . In the dubbed versions from 1977 and 2003, the location of the Tanzakadamie was relocated to Munich , based on the fact that, according to the voice-over introduction, Suzy arrives at Munich Airport at the beginning of the film and the taxi she takes also has a Munich license plate has, is more comprehensible than the Freiburg mentioned in the original.

In 2017, the uncut version of the film was approved by the FSK for ages 16 and over. On the occasion of the deletion of the index, a second post-synchro of the scenes missing in 1977 was created for the BD release, which, in keeping with the original, relocated the plot to Freiburg for the first time in German.

Actress role German speaker 1977 Post-sync 2003 Post-sync 2017
Jessica Harper Suzy Banyon Constanze Engelbrecht - Katharina von Keller
Stefania Casini Sandra (OV: Sara) Angelika Bender - -
Alida Valli Marie Tanner Emely Reuer - -
Joan Bennett Madame Blank Corny Collins - -
Udo Kier Psychiatrist Frank Mender (OV: Mandel) Berno from Cramm Oliver Boettcher Mark Seidenberg
Rudolf Schündler Professor Milius - Jörg Gillner Manfred Liptow
Flavio Bucci Daniel, the blind pianist Fred Klaus - Johannes Semm
Barbra Magnolfi Olga Helga Anders Tanja Dohse Merete Brettschneider
Eva Axén Patricia "Pat" Uschi Wolff - -
Susanna Javicoli Sonia Marion Hartmann
Renato Scarpa Professor Verdegast Manfred Lichtenfeld - -
? Exterminator Hartmut Neugebauer - -
? Elena Markos Corny Collins - -
? Airport announcement Hartmut Neugebauer - -


The Russian synchronized swimmers Natalja Ishchenko and Swetlana Romaschina performed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London with the "Suspiria Theme" by Goblin.


"Stupid mixture of horror and occultism that relies on gross effects and completely neglects the atmosphere."

"A horror from a movie."

- New York Magazine, 1977

"Dario Argento, who two years earlier had a high point of his work with ' Rosso - The Color of Death ', also pulls out all the cinematic stops on 'Suspiria' in order to scare the viewer."

- Frank Trebbin, Fear sits next to you , 1991

"The form is decisive and in 'Suspiria' it is of bizarre, hyper-stylized beauty."

- Jonas Reinartz,


  • Detlev Klewer: Inferno, the world of Dario Argento. MPW. 1999
  • Travis Crawford: Suspiria. Anchor Bay. 2002
  • Jessica Harper, interview by Scott Michael Bosco. In: Suspiria. Anchor Bay, 2002
  • Ulrich Bujard: Wonder World Laserdisc. In: Moviestar , No. 8., 1994


  • Stanley Manders: Terror in Technicolor. Luciano Tovoli, ASC, AIC, recalls his visual strategies for the 1977 horror classic Suspiria . In: American Cinematographer, February 2010, pp. 68-76.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ IMDb Internet Movie Database
  2. Release certificate for Suspiria . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry (PDF; test number: 49083-a / V). Template: FSK / maintenance / type not set and Par. 1 longer than 4 characters
  3. Detlef Klewer: Inferno-Die Welt des Dario Argento , Medien P&W, 1999, ISBN 978-3-931608-27-9 , p. 54
  4. Asli Serbest, Mona Mahall: Junk Jet n ° 3 , igmade.edition, 2010, ISBN 978-3-00-030127-8 , p. 78f. ( partially digitized in the Google book search)
  5. News about the remake of Suspiria on
  6. Technical Specifications for Suspiria on
  7. a b c Suspiria in the German dubbing index
  8. a b Suspiria - FSK examines the unabridged version on, accessed on June 15, 2017
  9. Goblin and Russia Team to Bring a Pool Full of Horror to the Olympics! , Accessed August 7, 2012
  10. Russian Olympic Swimmers perform to Goblin's "SUSPIRIA" score ( memento of the original from August 10, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Accessed August 7, 2012 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. Suspiria. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  12. John Simon: Dribbling. In: New York Magazine. 1977, p. 83 , accessed on April 10, 2009 (English): "a horror of a movie"