Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 11th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1975
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi
Cast: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Méril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra, Piero Mazzinghi, Glauco Mauri, Clara Calamai, Aldo Bonamano, Liana Del Balzo, Nicoletta Elmi
BluRay released: January 3rd, 2011
Approximate running times: 126 minutes (Director’s Cut), 105 minutes (International Theatrical Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Italian, Dolby Digital Stereo Italian, Dolby Digital Mono / Stereo English (Director’s Cut), Dolby Digital Mono / Stereo English (International Theatrical Cut)
Subtitles: English (Director’s Cut, International Theatrical Cut)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £22.99
Synopsis: After witnessing a murder, a musician finds himself in the crosshairs of a psychopath.
Deep Red was co-written and directed by Dario Argento, a filmmaker who is often referred to as the Italian Alfred Hitchcock. And just like the aforementioned Alfred Hitchcock, Dario Argento has spent the bulk of his career working primarily with in thriller (giallo) genre. In the early 1970’s Dario Argento quickly rose to prominence after directing a trio of thriller’s known as the animal trilogy (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O’ Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet). Having directed three films in the span of two years. Dario Argento would over the next few years pursue other avenues like producing a thriller anthology series Door into Darkness and a historical comedy / drama hybrid Five Days in Milan. Unfortunately this change of direction was not what he was looking for and Five Days in Milan performed poorly at the box office. After an attempt to adapt Frankenstein. Dario Argento would return to the genre that had made him a household with the 1975 film Deep Red.
The plot for Deep Red like Dario Argento’s previous thrillers revolves around an amateur sleuth, who becomes involved in the investigation after witnessing the original crime which sets everything in motion. And just like those aforementioned thrillers Deep Red also has a companion who aides the protagonists in their investigations. The relationship between the film’s protagonist a musician named Marcus Dailey and a reporter named Gianna Brezzi is arguably the most enduring pairing to ever appear in a Dario Argento film. Cast in the role of Marcus Dailey is a British actor named David Hemmings, who rose to prominence after staring in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up. It should also come as no surprise the character and his journey is Deep Red bears many striking similarities to the character he portrayed in Blow-up. Cast opposite David Hemmings is an Italian actress named Daria Nicolodi, who would play an important role in the evolution of Dario Argento as a filmmaker. They would begin a relationship while working on Deep Red that would culminate while working on Phenomena.
The red herring is an integral component to the thriller genre. And if done poorly it could quickly tip the hat to who the true perpetrator is. Thankfully Deep Red is a meticulously laid out murder mystery that does not play its hand before its most optimal moment. And when the moment of true finally arrives retracing the who’s and the why’s are equally satisfying. Another area that Deep Red excels are its kill sequences. Which serve as so much more than your random act of violence. In fact there are several instances in which clues to the killers’ identity are left at the scene of the crime.
Visually Dario Argento proves once again that he is not interested in retreading where he has been. And that he is always more than willing to experiment visually as a filmmaker. When talking about the visuals for Deep Red one must not overlook cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller’s contributions. He had previously worked with Dario Argento on Five Days in Milan. Some of his notable films as a cinematographer include Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Flesh for Frankenstein and The New York Ripper. Another key collaborator on Deep Red was the progressive rock band Goblin, who would go onto to work with Dario Argento of several other films most notably Suspiria. The score for Deep Red was co-written by Giorgio Gaslini, who’s other notable scores include So Sweet, So Dead, Five Days in Milan and the Italian T.V. series Door Into Darkness. As important as the visuals and as good as the performances are, the real backbone of this film is its driving score. With the standout musical motif being a children’s song that the killer uses as a calling card.
Deep Red comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. The seconds disc which contains the International Theatrical Cut of Deep Red is a single layer 25 GB BluRay. Color reproduction, flesh tones, contrast and black levels all look very good. There are no problems with compression and details generally look crisp. There is a healthy layer of grain that varies in degree throughout and DNR while present it is never too intrusive. In all this transfer is a marked improvement over all previous DVD releases. Quality wise the transfer for the Director’s Cut and the International Theatrical Cut are comparable and look like they come from the same source. With the main difference being the opening and ending titles for the International Theatrical Cut have been taken from an lesser source (these credits are in English). It should be noted that on some BluRay players there is a noticeable glitch at the 45 minute 27 second mark.
This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Italian, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Italian and a Dolby Digital Mono / Stereo mix in English. All the audio mixes are in very good shape as there are no major issues with background noise or distortion. Dialog is consistently clear and everything sounds balanced. The strongest audio mix is the DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Italian. With Goblins score benefiting most from this audio mix. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
Extras for this release are spread over two discs. Extras on disc one include a brief intro before the film with composer Claudio Simonetti, two trailers, the U.S. theatrical trailer (2 minutes 47 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and the Italian theatrical trailer (1 minute 52 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subttitles). Other extras include three features, ‘Lady in Red – Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profondo Rosso’ (20 minutes 39 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), ‘Music to Murder For! – Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red’ ( 15 minutes 26 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in English) and ‘Rosso Recollections – Dario Argento’s Deep Genius’ (13 minutes 59 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles). Rounding out the extras on disc one is a audio commentary with Dario Argento expert Thomas Rostock. The most interesting of the three interviews is the one with Daria Nicolodi, who not only discusses her performance. She also candidly discuses her relationship with Dario Argento. The interview with Claudio Simonetti is also very good. He discusses Goblin, Deep Red and working with Dario Argento. Easily the weakest of the three interviews is the one with Dario Argento, who does not reveal anything that has not been covered in any of the numerous other interviews that he has done. The audio commentary with Thomas Rostock is a informative and at times insightful track.
Extras on disc two include a segment titled ‘Rosso from Celluloid to Shop’ (14 minutes 46 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and International Theatrical Cut of Deep Red (104 minutes 42 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, with English subtitles). The segment titled ‘Rosso from Celluloid to Shop’ is essentially Luigi Cozzi giving a tour of his store Profondo Rosso.
Also included with this release Also included with this release are a 4 Panel reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned art work, Double-sided fold-out poster and a booklet with informative liner notes about the film that was written by Alan Jones author of ‘Profondo Argento’. Overall Deep Red gets a strong BluRay release from Arrow Video.