Though casual fans might not notice, film scholars will often point out Dario Argento's nuanced use of colour.


Though casual fans might not notice, film scholars will often point out Dario Argento's nuanced use of colour.

SUSPIRIA (1977)

The Abridged Script

This script is available in Argent-O-Vision™. To toggle this on and off, click here.

FADE IN:

OPENING CREDITS are accompanied by the haunting prog-rock of the band GOBLIN, plus some helpful NARRATION about how JESSICA HARPER is playing an AMERICAN BALLET STUDENT going to a GERMAN BALLET SCHOOL, in case you miss the part where the ENTIRE MOVIE happens in a GERMAN BALLET SCHOOL where JESSICA HARPER is doing STUDENT THINGS and being AMERICAN.

Then, if you're watching the international release, the word SUSPIRIA appears in GIANT BLOODY BEATING HEART FONT due to concerns that DARIO ARGENTO might be TOO SUBTLE for foreign audiences.

INT. AIRPORT OF REEEEEDDD SO MUCH REEEDDDDDD - GERMANY

AIRPORT P/A SYSTEM

VELCOME TO GERMANY. THE RED ZONE IS FOR LOADING AND BATHING YOU IN CREEPY RED LIGHT ONLY. THERE IS NO OTHER ZONE.

JESSICA HARPER

Pardon me, which way are the taxis?

AIRPORT STAFF

Just head to those sliding doors with the ominous scary metal spike of death! If you suddenly hear loud scary whispering and funky bass beats, you're facing the wrong way.

JESSICA heads outside to the TAXI AREA and hails a cab in the POURING RAIN while wearing a THIN WHITE DRESS, already a bold choice for overseas flights, but DAMN.

JESSICA HARPER

Please take me to German Ballet School. It's on Escherstrasse, just past Freakyshit Lane.

TAXI DRIVER

Certainly! And while we're driving through our fair city, perhaps you'd care to listen to MORE CREEPY ASS PROG-ROCK AND SCAAAAARY WHISSPERINGG, AW YEAH LET'S CRANK THAT SHIT, WHOEVER SAID THE BEST MOVIE SCORES SHOULDN'T BE NOTICED CAN GO EAT A GIANT BAG OF WHALE TAINT

CUE: FUNKY KICKASS GOBLIN SCORE

JESSICA HARPER

My there certainly are some ominous landmarks in this city. That giant museum, that brutalistic fountain, the creepy-ass woods that are somehow in the middle of town. I wonder what lies ahead?

MUSIC CUE: WITCH!! WITCH!!!!!!!

JESSICA HARPER

What dangers await me in this bizarre location? Vampires? Zombies? Werewolves?

MUSIC CUE: WIIIIITCHH!!!! WIIIIIITCH FOR FUCK'S SAKE, TRYING TO DROP SOME CLUES HERE

JESSICA HARPER

I shall just have to wait and see, I suppose, and try to be ready for anything.

MUSIC CUE: GOD DAMMIT YOU DESERVE TO BE CURSED SO HARD, WELL GOOD LUCK TO YA

EXT. GERMAN BALLET SCHOOL

JESSICA arrives but the doors are LOCKED! She tries the INTERCOM.

VOICE ON INTERCOM

I can't let you in! Save yourself! Don't enter this wretched place!

JESSICA HARPER

(mildly puzzled)

But, but I'm supposed to go to school here.

The DOOR flings open to reveal a distraught EVA AXEN, who calls out to someone inside the school, as the howling wind whips mercilessly against her!

EVA AXEN

(words obscured by storm)

Sec! -- ris! --- dom!

JESSICA HARPER

Oh hello, can I just sneak past you? I'm a student at this school you see.

But EVA dashes into the storm, the DOOR closing behind her, still locked! JESSICA gets back into her TAXI and as they drive to a hotel, she sees EVA running frantically through the SCARY WOODS, desperation on her face as she flees some unknown, unseen peril!

JESSICA HARPER

How peculiar. Eh, what'cha gonna do.

(reads latest issue of "Overseas American Ballet Student Monthly")

INT. THE MOST AWESOMELY 1970S BUILDING IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE

EVA breathlessly crosses the GROOVETASTIC RED-DRENCHED LOBBY OF RED and arrives at her friend's apartment.

FRIEND

Eva are you all right? What's the matter? Is it that your character's name is Pat Hingle, same as the actor from "Streets of San Francisco" and "Hawaii 5-0"?

EVA AXEN

No no, it's not that. Something far more macabre! Something dreadful and evil that poses a threat to my very life, which could murder us both at any moment--but why bother trying to explain? Silly me! I'll just relax in one of your silk nightgowns by the window if that's okay.

FRIEND

That's fine. Shriek if you need anything!

(leaves)

EVA stares at the WINDOW, then STARES at the WINDOW, finally deciding to STARE AT THE WINDOW, until suddenly A PAIR OF EYES appear outside, YOIKS, followed by THE WORLD'S MOST HAIRY-ASS ARM CRASHING THROUGH THE GLASS AND GRABBING EVA!!

EVA AXEN

AAIIEEE HOLY FUCK THAT IS SUCH A FUCKING HAIRY ARM, LIKE, EWWWWW

HAIRY SLASHER

OH MY IS THAT A SMUDGE ON THE OTHER WINDOW PANE, LET ME GET THAT WITH YOUR FACE

The SLASHER PRESSES EVA'S FACE right through the other pane of glass!! He then DRAGS her to the outside balcony and STABS her! Not only that, he STABS her again!! Then he STABS her!

EVA AXEN

Ow! Ouch! Well maybe these are all flesh wounds and I can still escape?

HAIRY PERFORATOR

HOW ABOUT WE DO A CLOSE-UP SHOT OF YOUR HEART GETTING STABBED THEN

(stabs)

EVA AXEN

That oughta do it.

(dies)

For extra credit, the murderer SMASHES EVA through a SKYLIGHT, HANGING her from a ROPE!

HAIRY PERFORATOR AND THE DEATHLY SKYLIGHT PART ONE

Oh noice, the falling glass murdered Eva's friend for me! Guess that's Deathly Skylight Part Two! And thus we conclude our little anachronistic joke.

INT. GERMAN BALLET SCHOOL - THE NEXT DAY

JESSICA returns to the BIG RED SCHOOL PAINTED ALL RED, like do German paint stores even BOTHER with other colours, and finds it OPEN this time.

ALIDA VALLI

Velcome! I am an instructor here, also in charge of evil smiles. BEHOLD MY SINISTER GLEAMING TEETH! Seriously I can rip open steel drums with these babies.

JOAN BENNETT

And I'm the long-retired ballet star who runs the place. Along with the mysterious Directress whom nobody ever sees and is cloaked in whispers and who's away on vacation, stop asking questions!

JESSICA HARPER

But I didn't-

JOAN BENNETT

And over here is Hot Young Porter Guy, and Deformed Face Dude, I wonder if one of them is the hairy-armed slasher? More importantly, I wonder if we'll ever give a shit who the slasher is? Spoiler, we won't. Besides, what slasher? Ha ha ha.

ALIDA VALLI

Your room is not yet ready, however there is time to meet the other students and have some awkward, stilted introductions. Zis vay!

ALIDA takes JESSICA to the change rooms where all the other girls are preparing for classes.

JESSICA HARPER

Hello fellow dancers! I need somewhere to spend the night, if anyone has room...?

STEFANIA CASINI

I do! Hello, I'm a sane, friendly person.

(smiles)

BARBARA MAGNOLFI

HellOOOOooo!! My my, JesssSSSSSssica Harper and SSSssstefania CassssSSSini, eh?!? Sounds like a couple of SSSSsssnakes to me!! Bwah bla nyah!

(uber-vamps)

JESSICA HARPER

Hm. Tough call.

(to Barbara)

So could I stay with you maybe?

STEFANIA CASINI

(rolls eyes)

Fine, I'll just get back to my extensive documentation of everything weird going on, don't worry about it.

INT. BARBAPARTMENT

BARBARA, having been late to the paint store, lives in an ALL BLACK-AND-WHITE APARTMENT which is nonetheless SUPER FUNKY.

JESSICA HARPER

It's so strange. They say nobody was on the intercom last night, and then Eva was saying something... something important. "Sec... ris... dom..." I just can't quite make sense of it.

BARBARA MAGNOLFI

Don't worry, you'll magically decipher what she said in the third act. It's a Dario thing.

JESSICA HARPER

Phew! Maybe when we reach that point, you can help me with-

BARBARA MAGNOLFI

OHH NOOOOOO I ain't sticking around for the end of a Dario movie, FUUUUUCK THAT. This girl has plans that DON'T involve being stabbed to death, thanks.

INT. BACK AT SCHOOL

JESSICA heads towards her first proper class in the RED ROOM OF RED.

JESSICA HARPER

Oh shit, I just remembered I have no actual ballet skill. How am I gonna do this scene?

KITCHEN LADY

Perhaps I can help! Just look over here so I can CAST A SPELLL ON YOUUU, BWAH HA HA, I SHALL SAP YOUR STRENGTH AND MAKE YOU WEEEAAAK

JESSICA HARPER

Too weak to do my ballet properly? Awesome, thanks!!

KITCHEN LADY

Yes but YOU ARE IN OUR CLUTCHES NOWWWW

JESSICA HARPER

Fuck that was too close, luckily that's the only scene in the movie where my ballet student character has to do ballet. I'm free and clear now! Hurray!

KITCHEN LADY

Um, horrible witch's curse? Hello?!?

JESSICA HARPER

(skips to class, whistling)

JESSICA attempts a ballet exercise but COLLAPSES and coughs up RED, RED BLOOOOD!

INT. JESSICA'S DORM ROOM

JESSICA is being tended to by a DOCTOR.

DOCTOR

Here, drink some water. Also you'll need an injection of some fucking thing,

(does so)

Plus I'm prescribing a special diet of red meat, red onions, red peppers, red food dye, and of course RED WIIIINE SO MUCH REEEEED! Aaaaand that's all from me.

(leaves)

ALIDA VALLI

Velcome back, zis is your room now, it has been made... "RED-dy"... for you, heh heh heh. Make sure to eat your special, totally not drugged food! We need to keep you feeble and dazed for our ultimate plan of... shit I dunno really. I'm sure it's evil.

JESSICA HARPER

Okay. First perhaps I should brush my hair a bit.

(brushes hair)

Lum tee tum. My this knot sure is stubborn.

(brushes more)

I really must have my split ends dealt with.

(brushes more)

Maybe this brush would work better if I plucked all these pesky maggots out of it OH SHIIIT MAGGGOOOOTSSS

Yes there are MAGGOTS everywhere, AIIEEEEE!!!! Everyone PANICS!

JOAN BENNETT

Attention students! It turns out the crates of food we left lying upstairs for months have, shockingly, rotted, and are now full of maggots. Bad news is, we must all sleep in the rehearsal hall tonight during the fumigation. Good news is, looks like risotto's BACK ON THE MENU, GIRLS

INT. REHEARSAL HALL - NIGHT

The students go about making the best of the situation, preparing to sleep on their white-sheeted cots surrounded by large white drapes wearing their white nightgowns.

ALIDA VALLI

Everyone ready for bed? Excellent. Sleep well. Ahem. CUE SCARY RED LIGHTING, SPOOOKY MUSIC AND LOUD CREEPY BREATH NOISES!!!!

MUSIC CUE: LAAA LAAA LAAA GOOD LUCK TRYING TO SLEEP YOU DOOMED FUCKS

Behind the curtain we see an eerie silhouette get into bed and begin WHEEZING and SNORING.

STEFANIA CASINI

(whispering)

Jessica! That's the Directress who's supposed to be away. I recognize her unique snore! You realize what this means.

JESSICA HARPER

She should really get herself a CPAP?

STEFANIA CASINI

Wouldn't hurt, but what I meant was, the teachers are LYING to us! And when they say they're going home at night, the sound of their footsteps goes further INTO the school! Something is very wrong here!

JESSICA HARPER

I dunno Stef. Sure there's the lying, and the maggots, and the creepy staff, and the murdered student, and the all-red walls, and the curses.

STEFANIA CASINI

...But?

JESSICA HARPER

Huh? No, I was done. G'night!

(falls asleep)

INT. GERMAN BALLET SCHOOL - THE NEXT DAY

The students are preparing for their lesson accompanied by their usual BLIND PIANIST. But just then rehearsal is interrupted by ALIDA!

JESSICA HARPER

Oh thank God, I almost had to do some ballet.

ALIDA VALLI

Grr, you've done it this time, Blind Pianist! Your service dog, that you leave tied up outside in the sun all day every day, got cranky for some mysterious reason and bit the creepy-as-fuck Damien-esque kid that hangs out here! You're fired!

BLIND PIANIST

This won't stand! I'm going to file a complaint with human resources, sue you for discrimination, and demand that oh wait, 1977. Fuck.

(melodramatically)

AAAAIII WOOEEE IS MEEEE

EXT. GERMAN TOWN

BLIND PIANIST goes to drown his sorrows at the local GERMAN SLAPPYDANCEHALL and is eventually kicked out to wander wide open public squares late at night.

BLIND PIANIST

I can't shake this sense of imminent dread. Maybe it's that we keep filming next to giant Nazi-influenced buildings? Hm, or maybe it's the witchcraft. Or, perhaps, it is a deeper contemplation of our essential nature.

BLIND PIANIST'S DOG

OR PERHAPS IT IS ME EATING YOUR FACE

(attacks!)

The DOG rips apart the PIANIST'S NECK AND FACE meting out SWIFT, BLOODY, RICHLY DESERVED JUSTICE because seriously people, don't leave your DOG out in the BAKING SUN with UTTERLY ZERO SHADE, just FUCKING DON'T.

INT. JOAN BENNETT'S OFFICE

JESSICA decides to talk with JOAN about what happened to EVA.

JESSICA HARPER

Slowly, what Eva said is coming back to me. When I remember it now, I can hear "secret"... "iris"... and "kingdom". Any ideas?

JOAN BENNETT

That's a poser. Well it has nothing to do with the giant irises painted on the wall right next to us, THAT'S for sure! Ha ha ha. I'm sure glad you decided to study ballet and not, for example, noticing shit.

INT. THE DORMITORY - THAT NIGHT

STEFANIA slips into JESSICA'S room after lights-out.

STEFANIA CASINI

Oh Jessica! Remember I mentioned how I had extensive notes on everything that's happened, and all about Eva? As well as full schematics of the entire school, skeleton keys, and a book of protective spells?!? Well shockingly, after I told you about it in our public pool with echoing acoustics and tons of places to eavesdrop from, they're all gone!!

JESSICA HARPER

(drugged)

STEFANIA CASINI

Oh why must you be so drugged! Listen, I had one final note I was carrying with me, and-

(startled)

The lights are on in my room, they've come for me! To do... something that's never really explained! I leave this last clue here with you, for I must fly!

JESSICA HARPER

(drools)

STEFANIA rushes out and down the RED, RED HALLWAY, through many a RED ROOM, which spelled backwards is MOORDER! OH SHIT STEFANIA'S GONNA GET MOORDERED!!

STEFANIA CASINI

I must hide in the attic! Yes, that's better, nice safe attic OH CRAP IT'S THE SLASHER, I'M GETTING SLASHED

(reels backwards)

Hopefully dodging backwards will get me out of his reach, and GODDAMN IT, GIANT PANES OF GLASS, OW OW OW

STEFANIA manages to get into another ROOM and lock it behind her! But the SLASHER puts his knife between the door and frame and tries to lift the DOOR-LATCH open!

STEFANIA CASINI

Hm. Could try holding the latch down until he gives up. Or I could barricade the door with that pile of boxes... but wait! I can also use the pile of boxes to reach that tiny, tiny window up there!

STEFANIA decides to build her escape route on CHALLENGE LEVEL by stacking the boxes with the TINIEST on the bottom. But it works, she reaches the window!!

STEFANIA CASINI

And now I can reach the next room over! Yes, the camera isn't showing us the floor, but I'm looking into the room right now, I'm sure I would notice if there was any giant hazard literally covering the entire room. So it'll be nice and safe to just hop down AW FUCK IT'S BARBED WIRE, THE WHOLE ENTIRE FLOOR COVERED IN HUGE ROLLS OF BARBED WIRE, WHY IS THIS EVEN HERE, WELP I'M NICELY FUCKED NOW, YES SIR, GUESS WE CAN JUST GET THIS OVER WITH ANY TIME, I'M TOTES SCREWED, I GOTTA SAY THIS IS SURE GOING ON A WHILE

(stabbed)

(dead)

INT. GERMAN BALLET SCHOOL - THE NEXT MORNING

JESSICA wakes up and notices STEFANIA has gone missing.

ALIDA VALLI

Yes, she ah, left first thing this morning. With all her belongings. And not saying goodbye to anyone. What a very not weird thing to happen!

Sensing something is perhaps not quite right, JESSICA calls STEFANIA'S psychiatrist friend FRANK who turns out to be...

UDO KIER

Yes it's me, Udo Kier! I wasn't always 75 years old, it turns out!

JESSICA HARPER

I just don't know what's going on. Udo, do you?

UDO KIER

I think I can help. To understand, you must first learn the entire history of witchcraft, as well as migratory patterns of the 13th century, and the etymology of the nomenclature surrounding

(gives TED talk)

JESSICA HARPER

So you think an impossibly old witch runs the school. My gosh!

MUSIC CUE: DURRRRR YA THINK?!? WE DID TRY TELLING YOU Y'KNOW

UDO KIER

Indeed. For further insight I'm going to turn things over to my esteemed colleague Dr. Crazypants von Batfuck here.

DR. CRAZYPANTS VON BATFUCK

Blorble barble magic is real! Everything is magic! SOOOO MUCH MAGIC

JESSICA HARPER

Well that does seem to cover both ends of the spectrum. Thanks.

INT. GERMAN BALLET SCHOOL -- THAT NIGHT

JESSICA is preparing for bed but has an IDEA!

JESSICA HARPER

Each night I eat my special food and then immediately pass out. Well this time... I shall NOT eat the special food! Point: Harper!

She wanders about the RED RED HALLS for a while but finds no other students!

ALIDA VALLI

Ah yes, the other girls checked the running time and got the fuck out, they're halfway to France by now. Guess it's all up to you!

JESSICA HARPER

I guess it is. Speaking of running time, this is looking to be pretty short so if there's any other random creepy encounters we could cram in about now?

BAT

BLAGH BLURGH I'M A BAT OOOO SCAAARRRYYY

JESSICA HARPER

(crushes bat)

Better than nothing. Right, I'm sure I can drag this out long enough by just moving reeeeaaaal slloooowwwwww

JESSICA traces the teacher's footsteps down the RED, RED HALL and up the stairs! She passes the EVIL KITCHEN STAFF and reaches a door that leads to...

JESSICA HARPER

Oh, it's Joan Bennett's office! With the huge wall mural of many doors, and giant irises! Hmm, irises.

(thinks)

MEMORY OF EVA AXEN

...SECRET...IRISES...KINGDOM...

JESSICA HARPER

Still not getting it. But wait, there's a REFLECTION of the irises in that mirror! Maybe if I look at THAT instead-

MEMORY OF EVA AXEN

OPEN.. SECRET DOOR.. TURN... IRISES... KING-DOM...

JESSICA HARPER

This is so puzzling! Perhaps standing on my head-

MEMORY OF EVA AXEN

OPEN THE SECRET DOOR BY TURNING THE IRISES YOU FUCKING-DOMASS

(throws up hands)

JESSICA HARPER

Okay sheesh, just relax, my own memory.

(turns irises)

(secret door opens)

Behind the SECRET DOOR is a SPOOKY CORRIDOR leading to a SCAAARY BLUE CURTAIN behind which is another EEEERIE CORRIDOR at the end of witch is a FRIGHTENING DOORWAY behind witch is a WITCH MEETING! JESSICA hides and listens in.

JOAN BENNETT

The American must DIE DIE DIE!! I only repeated that to be sure nobody within three miles missed it. Though really, she hasn't posed us any trouble yet. Remind me, why did we accept her into our evil school again? What the fuck is our evil plan? Anyone?

ALIDA VALLI

Look I'm working on it, it's almost ready, just gimme another 41 years. Hey, is someone outside? Deformed Face Dude, go investigate!

JESSICA ducks into a nearby room, which is some kind of EVIL BEDROOM! She sees a SHADOW behind a curtain that matches that of... the DIRECTRESS!

MATER SUSPIRIORUM

Ah, so you have found my Sanctum. Our epic final showdown... may BEGIN! Prepare for an explosive display of staggering witchly power!

JESSICA grabs a pointy thing and whips back the curtain BUT!

JESSICA HARPER

Oh no, there's nobody here! Only an indent on the bed where someone would be sitting, and a voice coming from this spot. I can't explain it!

MATER SUSPIRIORUM

Holy fuck, your catastrophic inability to interpret what's right in front of your eyes gives me a fighting chance! Time to cast a truly formidable spell, that makes your dead friend Stefania walk through that door, and SLOWLY LURCH TOWARDS YOU! SO SLOWLY AND AWKWARDLY THAT EVEN THE LOWLIEST BALLET STUDENT SHOULD EVADE HER WITH RIDICULOUS EASE!!!

JESSICA HARPER

OH SHIT, REQUIRING NIMBLE, BALLET-LIKE MOVEMENTS, MY ONLY WEAKNESS!!!! Okay fine, ONE OF MY ONLY WEAKNESSES!! I am SO FUCKED!!

However for some unknown reason the MATER'S SILHOUETTE begins glowing!

JESSICA HARPER

Wait... this witch-like outline... above the impression on the bed... where the voice is... would mean that... Nnnnrrrrrggghh...... c'mon brain, c'mon, you can do it... YES! THAT'S IT!

JESSICA STABS the space inside the silhouette and with it, MATER SUSPIRIORUM!

MATER SUSPIRIORUM

Ack. Urk. Well, congrats on your silver-platter victory there. Curse ya later!

(dies)

With the witch DEAD, the ENTIRE BUILDING begins SHUDDERING and COLLAPSING and EXPLODING!!

JESSICA HARPER

Really?! Fuck's sake, how old IS this trope?

(flees)

JESSICA makes her way out as various DOORS literally BURST THEMSELVES OPEN and FLY OUT OF HER WAY because why stop making it easy for her NOW. She gets OUTSIDE and is FINE!

JESSICA HARPER

Ah. What a nifty adventure!

(smiles, thumbs-up to camera)

DARIO ARGENTO

And that's just the beginning! I have a whole Mothers Trilogy planned, it will be so epic, and to finish will only take me...

(checks IMDB)

...well, merda.

END

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