Monday, July 30, 2012

Deep Red (1975)

also known as Profondo Rosso (original Italian title) and The Hatchet Murders
Dario Argento
1975 • 126 Minutes • 2.35 : 1 • Italy
Color • Italian • Anchor Bay (U.S. Release)

Cast:  David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni
Screenplay:  Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi
Producer: Salvatore Argento
Cinematography: Luigi Kuveiller

Awards & Honors

The Essential Films
100 Essential Horror Movies - #24

You think you're telling the truth, but in fact... you're telling only your version of the truth. It happens to me all the time.


At a public demonstration of her abilities, a psychic picks up the thoughts of murderer in the audience, and later that night becomes a victim.  Marcus Daly, an English pianist on holiday in Italy, gets involved in investigating the gruesome murder.  Every time he gets close to an answer, another murder takes place.  Daly is soon the target of the vicious serial killer.


Giallo is a subgenre of Italian thriller films, with their focus being on brutal violence, crime, mystery and a touch of eroticism.  Director Dario Argento made himself a career on such films, including The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Suspiria.  Dargento doesn't shy away from the violence, he lingers on brutality, and usually against the backdrop of intricate sets and stark lighting as is the case with Deep Red.  The graphic imagery is always off-putting, but one can't help but admire the way the blood red is used to paint the picture he's trying to create.  Some of the camera work is truly gorgeous to look at, thanks to cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller.  It may perhaps be the best looking horror film ever made.

The investigation aspect of the story is the weakest.  It takes too long to set up, however once it finally does get going it the story-telling sucks you in.  As bodies begin to pile up around Daly, the viewer finds themselves worrying for his danger constantly.  The suspense of the films comes from Daly not always being a step behind the killer (as with most serial killer movies), but a step ahead as he continues to uncover clues shortly before the killer strikes.  The big reveal of the killer at the end is satisfying, even though a clever viewer could have foreseen it.  As a whole, the film works as a suspenseful thriller.  It also works as a horror/slasher film... you can see traces of it in many slasher flicks of the 70s and 80s.

The opening shot of the film is of a shadowy figure stabbing and killing another figure while a child's tune is played throughout, resulting in an unsettling effect.  The child's tune resonates throughout the film, usually serving as a leitmotif for murder.  Also, speaking of music, the film's score was composed by Italian rock band Goblin.  Their score is nearly as chilling as John Carpenter's infamous Halloween tune.

Dargento removed 26 minutes of the film for the American release of the film, therefore multiple versions of the film now exist.  Below is the original 126 minute Italian cut: