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'Suspiria' a mix-'em-and-match-'em cult horror remake

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By Shirrel Rhoades
Columnist

Thursday, October 25, 2018

You may have seen the 1977 Italian cult horror film “Suspiria” (translation: “Sighs”). The scary story told about an American ballet student (Suzy Banyon, played by Jessica Harper) who goes to Germany to study at a famous dance school under the guidance of the mysterious headmistress, Madame Blanc .

Now Italian director Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me by your Name”) has made a remake — although he prefers to call it an “homage.”

An homage means the director can take liberties.

In this version, Suzy Banyon has been renamed Suzy Bannion. She goes to Berlin instead of Munich. She’s attending the Markos Dance Academy rather than the Tanz Dance Academy.

Jessica Harper (“Love and Death,” “Stardust Memories”) returns in this second film, but not as the young ballerina. This time around Dakota Johnson (the kinky “Fifty Shades” films) plays Suzy. Harper has been recast as a woman believed to be dead at the hands of the Nazis.

In the original, Madam Blanc was played by Joan Bennett. Here Madam Blanc is played by Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton,” “Dr. Strange”). And Dr. Jozef Klemperer is played by newcomer Lutz Ebersdorf.

Chloë Grace Moretz (“Let Me In,” “Hugo”) has been added to the cast for additional star power, playing a dance student. And Mia Goth (“Nymphomania”) takes on the role of a young ballerina named Sara.

The plot remains pretty much the same. It needs no spoiler alert to tell you the dance academy is operated by a coven of witches. After all, this is the remake of a well-known horror film.

The mix-‘em-and-match-‘em story elements are overshadowed by a bit of behind-the-scenes trick casting. Tilda Swinton has now confessed that she (in heavy makeup) played the actor Lutz Ebersdorf who played Dr. Jozef Klemperer in the movie. A dual role for Swinton — Madam Blanc and Klemperer /Ebersdorf.

The filmmakers maintained that Ebersdorf was a real psychoanalyst until a month after the film’s premiere.

When asked why she chose to play this prank on audiences, Tilda Swinton simply replied, “ For the sheer sake of fun.”

srhoades@aol.com

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