From its intense visuals and color schemes to its focus on female protagonists, Dario Argento's original Suspiria has not only inspired director Luca Guadagnino with his reimaging, but other creators as well. Here, Chris Moore, the openly gay director of the upcoming horror-comedy Triggered, and Adam Marcus, the straight mind behind Jason Goes to Hell, one of the most inclusive and homoerotic Friday the 13th film entries, talk about how Suspiria has inspired them and why it means so much to the queer and other minority communities.
WCT: Can you talk about how first reacted upon seeing Suspiria for the first time?
Chris Moore: I first saw Suspiria when I was 9 or 10 years old. Entertainment Weekly had listed it as one of the top 50 or 100 scariest movies of all time and I was really intrigued by the picture of Sara tangled up in the razor wire. I rented the VHS a few weeks later and had to turn it off 10 minutes in. I was so terrified. It reminded me so much of nightmares that I had when I was a kid and I just couldn't handle it. I'd never seen anything like that before. An hour or so later, I came to my senses and finished the movie and, by the end, I was a total fan.
Adam Marcus: I want to let you know that it was the first commercial I ever saw that almost scared me to death! I was seven years old when Suspiria was first released in the US and they ran the commercials endlessly on WPIXholy shit!
I was so absolutely frightened. The "roses are red" poem being teased over the image of a head of raven hair being brushedonly to discover it's the head of a skeleton! Then the fleshy title font coming to life across the screen … followed by Suzy's roommate, glass dagger in hand, eyes bloody, coming out of the door and straight for us. Come on, now! The commercial was so terrifying that I didn't see the film until I was 11 or 12. And even then, I saw it in the middle of the day with all the lights on. But I LOVED IT!
WCT: Why do you think the original has resonated with the LGBTQ community and female cinema enthusiasts?
CM: I feel like it appeals to us so much because it's so wacky and different. I remember feeling like I'd discovered some strange, hidden gem that only a select group of people knew about. It's like having a little secret. Plus, the set design and the costumes and the lighting are so stylish. It's like a Douglas Sirk movie on crack or one of those bright, colorful MGM musicals.
AM: I think what's incredible about the politics of the film is that the heroes and villains of the story are women. I mean, the whole movie is female. The men are marginalized the way most movies marginalize women. They are there for exposition or to be servicing the plot for the female characters to go further on their journeys. It's a movie that says you really don't need men to tell a compelling horror story. There is also a wonderful bitchiness to the witchy proceedingsa touch of All About Eve festering in the dance academy.
Marcus' current project, Secret Santa ( Facebook.com/secretsantathemovie ), a holiday slasher featuring a strong LGBTQ presence, and Moore's Triggered ( www.facebook.com/FindURSafeSpace ) are currently on the festival circuit.