Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Watch: New Hilarious Red-Band Trailer For 'The Interview' Starring Seth Rogen And James Franco Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Fantastic Fest Review: Hitman Thriller 'John Wick' Starring Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe & Adrianne Palicki Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big  Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date First Look: Cobie Smulders & Guy Pearce In Andrew Bujalski's 'Results' First Look: Cobie Smulders & Guy Pearce In Andrew Bujalski's 'Results' 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders Watch: Oscar Isaac And Jessica Chastain Are At War In First Trailer For 'A Most Violent Year' Watch: Oscar Isaac And Jessica Chastain Are At War In First Trailer For 'A Most Violent Year' Review: 'The Maze Runner' Starring Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, Will Poulter And More Review: 'The Maze Runner' Starring Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson, Will Poulter And More Exclusive: Matthew McConaughey Won’t Be Back For ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ Director Says Sequel Will Be “Very Different” Exclusive: Matthew McConaughey Won’t Be Back For ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ Director Says Sequel Will Be “Very Different” David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

David Gordon Green Says He Re-Envisioned 'Suspiria' Remake After Natalie Portman Did 'Black Swan'

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist September 8, 2011 at 4:15AM

Eclectic Director Talks Horror Remakes That Got It RightFew horror films are as critically revered and fanatically adored as Italian director Dario Argento’s operatic 1977 shocker “Suspiria.” Centered on the witchy goings-on at a prestigious ballet school, it is largely considered one of the scariest movies of all time and served as the chief inspiration for Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar-nominated (and similarly nightmarish) “Black Swan.” The idea of remaking “Suspiria” is a daunting one, but that hasn’t deterred David Gordon Green -- the versatile director behind such disparate films as “All the Real Girls,” “Pineapple Express” and "Your Highness" -- from doggedly pursuing an updated version.
4

Eclectic Director Talks Horror Remakes That Got It Right



Few horror films are as critically revered and fanatically adored as Italian director Dario Argento’s operatic 1977 shocker “Suspiria.” Centered on the witchy goings-on at a prestigious ballet school, it is largely considered one of the scariest movies of all time and served as the chief inspiration for Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar-nominated (and similarly nightmarish) “Black Swan.” The idea of remaking “Suspiria” is a daunting one, but that hasn’t deterred David Gordon Green -- the versatile director behind such disparate films as “All the Real Girls,” “Pineapple Express” and "Your Highness" -- from doggedly pursuing an updated version.

When we talked to the filmmaker this past spring (for his underrated sword-and-sorcery send-up “Your Highness”), Green shared many details, including confirmation that Natalie Portman was originally intended for the lead role and the fact that he had written the script with his sound designer. While talking to Complex (in anticipation of his upcoming comedy “The Sitter”), he gave out more details about this dream project, which he still hopes to shoot next, including what kind of modifications he had to make to the story once Natalie bowed out.

“I was actually going to make ‘Suspiria’ with Natalie [Portman] a few years ago," Green said, "but ended up pushing it to do ‘Your Highness,’ and once she stepped into 'Black Swan' it definitely made me not want to do what I originally had in mind; I didn’t want to make the Natalie version anymore. So I re-envisioned it.”

The most surprising difference in Green's version, however, had nothing to do with a key element that both the original and “Black Swan” share. Green noted that his take on the material “doesn’t have anything to do with ballet at all; it’s an all-girls’ boarding school that doesn’t have the dance element, so there’s no real conflict there.” (This change brings to mind Lucky McKee’s unfairly maligned 2006 romp “The Woods,” which also owes a great debt to “Suspiria” and was set in a girl’s boarding school.)

The “Black Swan” connection did have him veer off in a different direction, though. “It did inspire me to think, “Well, I want to go younger now. I want this to be about 14, 15-year-old girls, rather than women who are Natalie’s age.” It made me not want to do what ‘Black Swan’ kind of did with the psychology and thriller elements of older characters,” he explained. “If anything, I want to focus on the younger, more naïve kinds of characters—the wide-eyed, ‘Snow White’ version of the movie, rather than a more sophisticated, sexual version of it.”

Still, Green was quick to point out that his version wouldn’t be tame just because its characters were younger. “It’s a pretty hardcore movie, so you don’t want to soften it up by making the little girl version of it,” he said. “I do like the idea of young, impressionable characters—not strong, confident vixens, but young, impressionable, naïve witnesses to the occult.”

In the same interview Green says that he went back to Argento’s source material, a novella called “Mine-Haha” by Frank Wedekind, which Green says “Gaspar Noé’s girlfriend [Lucile Hadžihalilović] made in France a few years ago [called ‘Innocence’], and that sort of shows the raw, strange, and naïve beauty of what was his inspiration as a director in creating ‘Suspiria.’”

Green, who seems to be able to slap wickedly dark moments into his giddy studio comedies (and who cast Griffin Dunne in his domestic drama “Snow Angels” due to his affinity for “American Werewolf in London”), is an unabashed horror fan and knows what it takes to make a solid remake. “I feel exactly like all horror fanatics do—when a bad remake comes out, I think it’s the worst thing in the world.”

There have been some great remakes, though, Green adds: “I thought the ‘I Spit On Your Grave’ remake was really good recently; I thought ‘The Hills Have Eyes' remake was fucking amazing. There have been a few guys who have nailed it. Even ‘Piranha’—I thought that one was a lot of fun.” We agree with you on “Piranha!”

While his “Suspiria” remake is still his next project (ideally), it’s far from a done deal, although he acknowledges that nowadays just having a property with a familiar name can be enough to nab a green light, something that Green thinks is kind of sad. “It’s a twisted, perverted, unfortunate state that our industry is in—that’s literally more valuable than quality, or originality, or having something be unique. Something that’s derivative is an easier sell, or, “What can we hang our hat on financially that already exists so we don’t have to market it creatively?” That’s what I’m trying to avoid with ‘Suspiria.’”

Whatever “Suspiria” ends up being (and if it ever sees the light of day), we’re fairly certain David Gordon Green is the one to put a fresh spin on it. Even though we miss the days when he’d make small scale, character-rich dramas, he’s a gifted filmmaker in any genre and we can’t wait to see what he’s cooked up for one of the most beloved horror films of all time.

This article is related to: Films, Actresses, Films In Development, Foreign Directors, David Gordon Green, Black Swan, The Sitter, Dario Argento, Suspiria


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates