Trailer Park Thursday: “Suspiria” and “A Star is Born”

You definitely didn’t hear it here first, but there’s nothing new under the sun. And we’ve never cared less! Perhaps it’s a function of our increasingly post-truth moment, but an utter disregard for what came before—information contradicts itself, information is constantly buried under itself, and information currency is increasingly based around variations on a theme (i.e., memes)—seems suddenly utterly commonplace, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, overall.

It is interesting, though, when you think of the time, energy, money, and talent that is spent on remaking a thing that already exists in the world. And that’s exactly what the two movies teased in this week’s trailers represent: Not spin-offs, nor sequels, or reboots, but straight-up remakes, Psycho-and-Oldboystyle, of perfectly good—nay, great!—movies.

Previously best known for the visually stunning I Am Love, Suspiria director Luca Guadagnino created a minor sensation with one of this year’s most beloved love stories, Call Me By Your Name. This remake of a 1977 horror-cult classic, which will hit theaters in early November of this year, is how he’s chosen to spend the currency of his recent mainstream success. Cool…we guess?

Guadagnino definitely has a talent for eroticizing every day and drawing the viewer into the sensual, embodied experience of emotion. However—and this is just facts, people, we don’t make the rules—he’s no Dario Argento. Does he have it in him to make a real horror masterpiece that’s even barely on par with the original? All we know so far is that he certainly has the stones to try.

Pros of this remake that are immediately evident in the trailer include Tilda Swinton, obviously, and Thom Yorke’s score is much better than we thought something called “Thom Yorke’s score” could sound like (Radiohead fans: Calm down. It’s not 2003 anymore), but the fundamental question at the heart of our snark regarding this remake remains: Why bother? No, really. Nobody is denying that this trailer is a work of art, but why remake a cult classic just to suck out all of the color (and one thing that makes the original Suspiria so special is, undeniably, the color), turn down the camp, and replace all of the characters with new, more familiar faces? You can’t turn a cult film respectable! To be honest, the very thought of it is depressing. Are we still going to see it? Oh, most definitely.

This is actually the fourth iteration if you can believe that, of A Star is Born. The original was released in 1937 and starred Janet Gaynor. How do you get from Gaynor to Gaga (apologies to Germanotta) in four steps? Easy: You go from Gaynor to Garland (1954) and Garland to Streisand (1976). It’s telling that Germanotta was picked over someone like Lea Michele or Idina Menzel (that’s “Adele Dazeem” to some), but this is Bradley Cooper’s passion project—he wrote, directed, produced, and will star in it, after all—and he wanted “Joanne” and not “Wicked,” so here we are. Maybe he’s just a really big fan of American Horror Story. And Dave Chappelle. And Andrew “Dice” Clay.

All joking aside, though, somehow, the successive remakes of A Star is Born are fundamentally not the same affront to the original that the new Suspiria practically promises to be. Stay with us here: Some stories (like, for example, Pride and Prejudice) can be told over and over again with different interpretations and subtleties and brought to life onscreen through many directors’ visions and actors’ interpretations. That’s because they’re the opposite of a cult. They’re expansive, universal, and adaptable. In that way, you could argue that re-imagining them over and over is not only acceptable but necessary. Cult films, on the other hand, are idiosyncratic, iconoclastic, and very much a reflection of their time, both technically and conceptually. And before you go telling us that we’re being too precious about all of this, consider: If Disney announced tomorrow that Michael Bay was going to remake A New Hope with all new actors, all new sets, and all new VFX, how would that make you feel? You have plenty of time to think about it before A Star is Born comes to theaters in October.

Do you love trailers? We sure do! Every Thursday, we offer hot takes on the coolest Coming Attractions, because trailers deserve reviews, too! Don’t miss our recent coverage of “The Sisters Brothers” and “Wildlife” and “Damsel” and “Skyscraper”—and for more unapologetically cult movie goodness, see our recent Cult Leader column on the weird and wonderful “Electra Glide in Blue.” Let’s see ‘em try and remake THAT!
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