Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 27th, 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: May 17th, 2011
Approximate running times: 126 minutes (Italian Theatrical Cut), 105 minutes (International Theatrical Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: 7.1 DTS-HD Italian, Dolby Digital Surround EX 5.1 Italian, Dolby Surround Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Surround EX 5.1 English / Italian (Italian Theatrical Cut), 7.1 DTS-HD English, Dolby Digital Surround EX 5.1 English, Dolby Surround Mono English (International Theatrical Cut)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, English on Italian Version
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
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. First it should be noted that unlike the previous releases from Anchor Bay and Blue Underground, which feature compromised end credits. That this new release from Blue Underground fully restores the ends credits for both versions included with this release. Also unlike the Arrow Video UK release which used video sourced opening titles for International Theatrical Cut. This new release from Blue Underground uses what appears to be a film score for the opening credits. Quality wise both version included with this release from Blue Underground are on par with each other. Colors look vibrant, flesh tones look accurate, black levels are consistently strong and details look crisp throughout. There are no problems with compression or DNR and grain looks natural throughout. Finally when compared to Arrow Video much maligned transfer, this new transfer from Blue Underground is superior in every way.
The Italian release version of the film comes with four audio options, a 7.1 DTS-HD mix in Italian, a Dolby Digital Surround EX 5.1 mix in Italian, a Dolby Surround Mono mix in Italian and a Dolby Digital Surround EX 5.1 mix in English / Italian. This version of the film comes with one subtitle option English. The International Theatrical Cut comes with three audio options, a 7.1 DTS-HD mix in English, a Dolby Digital Surround EX 5.1 mix in English and a Dolby Surround Mono mix in English. This version of the film comes with three subtitle options, English SDH, French and Spanish. There are no major issues with any of these audio mixes as they all sound clean, clear and balanced throughout. Also all the audio mixes do a great job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. Though I am generally not a fan of remixes and prefer to listen to the original audio mix, in this case the Dolby Digital mono tracks. Overall I was thoroughly impressed with all of the remix audio tracks included with this release, especially the 7.1 DTS-HD audio mixes. Needless to say there are a wide variety of audio options to choose from for this release.
Extras for this release includes the U.S. trailer (2 minutes 42 seconds -anamorphic widescreen), the Italian trailer (1 minute 49 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a pair of music videos, Goblin music video ‘Profondo Rosso’ (4 minutes 47 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Daemonia music video ‘Profondo Rosso’ (8 minutes 32 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a interview segment with screenwriter / director Dario Argento, screenwriter Bernardino Zapponi and composers Goblin – Claudio Simoneti, Massimo Morante, Fabio Pignateli, Agostino Marangolo (10 minutes 48 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles and English). Even though the extras are sparse for this release, one should not overlook this releases main extra a interview segment with the main players from this production. This brief segment includes a few interesting tidbits like casting Daria Nicolodi, how Goblin go involved with the film’s score and Dario Argento touches upon how Deep Red differs from The Animal Trilogy. Overall Blue Underground gives Deep Red its best audio/ video presentation to date.