• Deep Red (Arrow Video)

    sed by: Arrow Video
    Released on: April 10th, 2018.
    Director: Dario Argento
    Cast: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Dario Argento in 1975, Deep Red was the director's fifth feature and remains one of his most popular films. The story begins at a 'parapsychology' conference in Rome, Italy where a psychic named Helga Ulman (Macha Meri) detects that someone in the audience is intending to commit murder. When Helga goes home for the night, she's attacked by an unseen assailant with a hatchet, her screams coming to the attention of a pianist named Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) who lives in the same apartment building and happens to be walking home with his friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia) as the murder is occurring. He runs to her apartment hoping to stop the murder before it's too late, but he doesn't make it in time.

    The cops show up and talk to Marcus, as does a reporter named Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi). After a talk they go their separate ways but meet again at Helga's funeral where they decide to talk to Giordani (Glauco Mauri), an associate of Helga's who was at the conference where she psychically figured out who the killer was - he didn't get a good look at the person she was accusing, however. When Marcus starts to remember a painting that stood out to him the night of the murder, he starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together in his head and with some help from Gianna, he sets out to figure out who really killed Helga and why, but the closer he gets to uncovering the truth the more the people around him seem to be dropping dead.

    Directed with loads of style and featuring all the amazing cinematography and color combinations that Argento's early work is known for, Deep Red is a well-executed exercise in suspense that still holds up well today. The movie always looks fantastic and it is obvious that Argento put a lot of careful planning into nailing a lot of details in terms of the visual side of the storytelling employed here. His fascination with architecture, common in his movies, shows up a lot as does his penchant for filming grisly murder scenes. Here the murder set pieces are shot with a very flamboyant style, ensuring that the audience can't turn away even if they want to. Taking more than a few pages out of Hitchcock's playbook, the script (which Argento co-wrote with Bernardino Zapponi) does a good job of keeping us guessing who the killer is right up until the reveal. There are some clever red herrings used throughout the film to keep you guessing and the film, with its intense opening murder scene, really hits the ground running in that regard. Argento sets things up so early in the film that we're instantly hooked.

    As far as the performances go, Hemmings and Nicolodi fare quite well here, showing good chemistry on screen and handling the odd dramatic and comedic interludes as well as the more serious and tension ridden scenes. Hemmings has a natural charisma, such likeability to him in this role (and many others) that you can't help but hope he'll figure it all out before the hatchet is turned on him. He has more to do here than Nicolodi does, but she too is fine in the part. Throw in a great score by Goblin, one of many collaborations they'd enter into with the director, and you can see how all the stars align for this one.

    Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release contains both the uncut Italian version of the film and the shorter US release of the film (trimmed of about twenty minutes) on their own separate discs. While most seem to prefer the longer version of the film, it's nice to have both cuts and there is something to be said for the tighter pacing of the shorter version of the movie (which was released in some territories under the alternate title of The Hatchet Murders). Most of what has been taken out of the shorter version amounts to characterization bits and snippets of dialogue, the plot and storyline remain more or less the same though this does tend to eliminate most of the more romantic aspects between Hemmings' and Nicolodi's respective characters.


    Each version of Deep Red is presented in 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition in transfers taken from a new 4K scan of the original negative. This video quality here offers a pretty substantial improvement over the previous domestic Blu-ray release from Blue Underground (reviewed here). Fine detail and texture are very strong and there’s frequently very impressive depth to the picture. What looks like some mild scanner noise can be spotted here and there if you’re really looking for it, but thankfully the image typically retains an appreciable film-like quality and is free of obvious edge enhancement, noise reduction or compression artifacts. Color reproduction looks great and there are very strong black levels here as well.

    Some note on the restoration for this release:

    Italian language tracks are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and DTS-HD Mono options with optional English subtitles that translate this specific track. Also offered is an English DTS-HD track, with optional English closed captioning for this specific track. The Italian 5.1 track is really strong, offering excellent channel separation and a very enveloping listening experience, particularly when it comes to score and effects placement. Purists will understandably opt for one of the single channel options, and they too sound quite good offering properly balanced levels. There are no hiss or distortion related issues with any of the mixes, and there’s good depth throughout.

    Note that the “English audio track on the original, longer cut has some portions of English audio missing. English audio for these sections was either never recorded or has been lost. As such, these sequences are presented with Italian audio, subtitled in English.”

    Extras on the first disc start off with an audio commentary by filmmaker and Argento expert Thomas Rostock. This is a well-researched and detailed track that covers all the ground you’d want it to – the locations, the camerawork, the casting, the performances, Argento’s direction and of course, the soundtrack and plenty more.

    The featurettes start off with Profondo Giallo, a new visual essay by Michael MacKenzie that runs just under thirty-three minutes in length. Here MacKenzie offers his thoughts on what makes Deep Red as effective a film as it is, why it remains a very popular entry in Argento’s filmography, and how Argento had such a huge influence on the giallo cycle. He also notes what makes Deep Red different from the earlier giallos he’d made, what makes the opening credits sequence in the picture so striking, the importance of the locations and how they are shot in the film, the film’s avant garde qualities and of course, the soundtrack.

    Up next is Rosso Recollections: Dario Argento’s Deep Genius, a fourteen-minute piece wherein Argento himself speaks about how and why Deep Red came to be, the ideas that turned into the film, the writing and directing process, casting the film and some of his influences. In The Lady in Red: Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profondo Rosso we spend twenty-one-minutes with the picture’s leading lady and one time Argento muse where she speaks about her relationship with the director, their work together and the part that she played in bringing Deep Red and some of his other better known pictures to life. In the sixteen-minute Music To Murder For!, Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti speaks about how he and the other members of the band scored Deep Red, what they were going for with the soundtrack work and what the band were going for with this particular score. Also worth checking out is Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid To Shop which is a fifteen-minute tour of the Profondo Rosso shop in Rome hosted by Luigi Cozzi.

    Additionally, the first disc includes the film’s original Italian theatrical trailer and a quick one-minute optional introduction to the main feature from Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti.

    The only extra on the second disc in the set is the film’s original US theatrical trailer. Both discs include menus and chapter selection options.

    While at the time of this writing test discs were sent for review, finished product is slated to include “6 postcard-sized lobby card reproductions, a reversible fold-out poster featuring two original artworks, reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx, a limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mikel J. Koven (author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film) and an archival essay by Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills.”

    The Final Word:

    Arrow Video’s two-disc special edition Blu-ray release of Dario Argento’s seminal Deep Red is a fantastic package. It presents the picture in beautiful shape with excellent audio and an impressive supplemental package. The movie itself remains a classic, one of the finest Giallo’s ever made!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I have the UK Limited edition. What am I missing from the US Limited? TIA
    1. cinemacide's Avatar
      cinemacide -
      Arrow sure dosn't make a double dip easy ...nice package though
    1. Adrian Jones's Avatar
      Adrian Jones -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jason C View Post
      I have the UK Limited edition. What am I missing from the US Limited? TIA
      There are two things you are missing

      1] The export cut is now corrected that 'blink and you'll miss it' frame of the Italian flag is now gone during the funeral scene.

      2] The box is not the thin card of the UK release and is like the thicker card of 'Cat O'Nine Tails' and 'Phenomena' releases.

      The art cards and poster are matt, i seem to recall the UK ones were glossy, but i sold mine, can anyone confirm, and of course the CD isn't included in the US set that was present on the UK release.
    1. cmeffa's Avatar
      cmeffa -
      Another fantastic release of a another fantastic film. Thanks for posting.