The work of Italian filmmaker Dario Argento can be an acquired taste; it’s necessary to attune yourself with the horror director’s style in order to get the most from his movies.
Indeed, Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) is, at its most basic, a mere slasher movie somewhere between Psycho and John Carpenter’s Halloween.
A likeable David Hemmings stars as confused music teacher Marcus, investigating the murder of a German psychic.
Drawn into the mystery alongside local journalist Gianna (Daria Nicolodi), he uncovers an abandoned art deco-style house that may hold the answer to a series of axe murders.
So far, so so... except with an Argento movie, the difference is in his distinctive style.
Each attack presents a different injury – ones Argento chose deliberately, feeling audiences could relate to accidentally hitting furniture or scalding themselves rather than, say, being shot.
The film also presents some striking visual compositions that raise it above the level of the usual sub-genre offerings.
Deep Red being an Italian film, it’s necessary to get used to the post-dubbed sound, especially in the Director’s Cut included here.
Some of the English dialogue was never recorded or has been lost, so actors revert to their Italian, German or French native language in restored scenes.
Oddly, the Director’s Cut increases the humour quotient considerably, making Deep Red a far funnier film than before (although that never detracts from its overall effectiveness).
There’s also a strange, dated feminist debate that runs through this restored version.
This release represents the first time the film has been available entirely ‘uncut’ in the UK.
Deep Red was Argento’s fifth film but his first to feature what were to become his trademarks.
The thumping score by electronic rockers Goblin helps sell the film’s effectiveness, and as the music is so important to the plot, it’s fitting that one of the main extras focuses on Goblin.
Another featurette speaks to co-star (and Argento’s then partner) Daria Nicolodi, while the director’s own hangdog expression pops up in interview segment ‘Rosso Recollections’.
Two very different, atmospheric trailers also feature. All told, the international theatrical cut of Deep Red remains pacier, as extreme
close-ups of objects vie with Peter Greenaway-style scene constructions.
It’s probably just as well that the actors’ performances are the last thing anyone’s paying attention to...
A great introduction to Dario Argento’s evolving style of horror, with alternate versions to enjoy, according to taste.