On November 26, 2020, acclaimed horror actress, Daria Nicolodi passed away. I wanted to write a tribute to her, and originally, this tribute shouldn’t have come after her death. A couple of months ago, after exchanging a few tweets with Daria, she started following me on Twitter. I was planning on writing a feature about her for The Inkblotters to appear during February 2021 for Women in Horror Month which would’ve included an interview with the beautiful and enigmatic actress. However, in November she passed away and not only did we lose an amazing actress and voice for the horror genre, but I felt like I also lost an almost friend.
Daria was an avid reader and trailblazing feminist and I found myself talking to her about books on many occasions. She was also very intelligent and a creative in her own right, despite the fact that many have always sidelined her as Dario Argento’s sidekick. What some people may not know is that it wasn’t Argento who came up with the plot for the internationally successful cult film Suspiria, but Daria herself. She helped Argento pen the script for the film after she told him that her grandmother had been sent to a very prestigious boarding school, only to find out that Black Magic was practiced there, and thus the students were then sent back home. Inspired by both by the anecdote and their extensive travels throughout Europe, the duo decided to write a script together. In fact, Suspiria initially, was written to feature young girls, and not teenagers. But the fact that producers didn’t want to invest in a movie about little girls getting killed, the couple decided to make them older. But both Daria and Argento never revised the script’s dialogue, which is why sometimes the characters in the movie sound too childish for their ages. Suspiria is often dubbed to be Argento’s masterpiece, and he’s often praised for it, but few know or praise the real mastermind behind the film’s plot and that’s a tragedy.
Not only did Daria have starring roles in many of Dario Argento’s best films, she also helped change the face of horror forever. She was the one to suggest to Argento to use the band Goblin to score Profondo Rosso, which would later thrive in the scores for Suspiria, Dawn of the Dead, and Beyond the Darkness among others.
Italian horror isn’t known to be kind to its female characters, but Daria revolutionized the way we’d ever see females in horror ever again. She had a disarming charm, sex appeal, and intelligence to her that she quickly captivated audiences. It’s easy to think about the males of horror when we think about the masters of horror, but to deny Daria Nicolodi’s contributions to horror is to deny a whole revolution. She innovated the horror genre in ways others that have come after her haven’t been able to do.
Getting to know her on a personal level this past year was both illuminating and gratifying. This is why her death hit me hard and why I found it difficult to find the words to write about her. These words aren’t perfect, far from it, but I’m hoping that it will inspire you to want to watch her films because she’s got the presence of a true star. From her big sultry eyes to her beautiful smile, anytime Daria’s onscreen you know that you won’t be able to look beyond her because she is the focal point, no matter what horrors are happening.
Farewell, Daria, maybe in another lifetime our friendship will have the time to blossom, but I’m grateful for the seedling that I received because to know you was to know a true star. You are missed.
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