VENICE, Italy, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Italian director Luca Guadagnino's remake of Dario Argento's 1977 cult horror classic Suspiria left Venice Film Festival viewers spellbound on Saturday.
Set in 1970s Berlin, this sumptuous, riveting and atmospheric psychological thriller tells the story of a young dancer (played by Dakota Johnson) who tries out for a famous choreographer (played by Oscar winner Tilda Swinton), only to discover that there is more to her dance company than meets the eye.
"Suspiria is about the terrible -- in interpersonal relationships, in the feminine, and in history," said Guadagnino, a Palermo native whose hit movie Call Me By Your Name was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year.
The movie's complex visuals and growing sense of dread are staged in a dark, rainy, moody Berlin, with the interiors shot in an abandoned mountain hotel that was built in the 19th century in northern Italy.
"We wanted to root this movie in German modernism," explained Guadagnino. "We found objects that were forgotten in very remote places in Germany in order to bring (the movie's) world to life."
He added he was a die-hard Dario Argento fan as a teenager growing up in Palermo, Sicily.
"I've become a kind of stalker of master filmmakers and Dario is one of them," said the Italian director, adding that he set his remake of Suspiria in the 1970s because it was a key period "for the feminist movement in Europe", and also because it was the decade of seminal German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
Screenwriter David Kajganich explained that he "went back to (pioneering Western choreographers) Pina Bausch and Martha Graham", watching as many of their dances as he could in order to find a starting place for his screenplay.
"I was looking for the cracks in their dances that we could fill in with the weird glue of our film," he said of Suspiria, which is told in six acts and an epilogue and hinges on a series of powerful, mesmerizing dance sequences set to a haunting soundtrack composed by Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke.
"The movement in the film is more than just artistry, it's also spell-casting," said Kajganich. "In our Suspiria, it's meant to be delivering esthetic information, but also occult information."
Yorke said that he had doubts about accepting the project but ultimately said yes because "it was one of those moments in your life where you kind of want to run away but you know you'll regret it if you do."
He also said that he went back to the original Suspiria soundtrack by Italian progressive rock band Goblin, which became a cult hit in its own right.
"It was of its time and obviously there was no way I could reference it," said Yorke. However, the use of repetition in the original soundtrack gave him ideas.
"There's a way of repeating in music which can hypnotize, and I kept thinking to myself it was a form of making spells," the Radiohead singer said of his composing process for the contemporary Suspiria.
"So when I was working in my studio I was making spells -- that's how I was thinking about it."
The Venice Film Festival, now in its 75th edition, runs through Sept. 8.