Blu-ray Review: Deep Red (Limited Edition)



There’s nothing wrong with a director wanting to avoid being stereotyped. Filmmakers want to be able to work in various genres. They all dream of being Howard Hawks or Billy Wilder. Dario Argento had established himself as a master of the giallo thriller with his first three movies including The Bird with Crystal Plumage. He was a screenwriter on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly so he also had a masterpiece Western under his belt. But by early ’70s, the Spaghetti Western was over. And part of that was Dario’s fault since giallo had become the hot new export to the foreign markets. So Dario made The Five Days of Milan, a historical comedy to expand his reputation. Sadly the film has become rather forgettable. Argento returned to giallo with Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) a film that became the crowning achievement of the genre. Deep Red: Limited Edition elevates the film to its masterpiece status.

During a psychic lecture in Rome, Helga Ulmann (Macha Méril) goes into a trance and freaks out when she reads the mind of a sick and twisted person in the audience. She can’t figure out who it is and nobody claims the thoughts. That night she goes home and discovers someone is in her apartment and they brought a meat cleaver. Her neighbor Marcus Daly (Blow-Up‘s David Hemmings) returns to the building and sees the attack. He doesn’t get there in time. While the police investigate the crime scene, Marcus swears something is wrong with his memory of the paintings in the hallway. Could this be a clue to the killer? He keeps jogging his memory. Later he hears a child’s song and then the mysterious killer attacks him. He escapes. The cops aren’t too much of a help. He ends up working with Gianna (Inferno‘s Daria Nicolodi), a newspaper reporter, to dig deep into the mystery. Can he expose the real killer before his guts get exposed?

The boxset of Deep Red includes the export version (104 minutes) that was released in America as The Hatchet Murders. This alteration is more than just axed scenes from the original. The opening of the film is rearranged which lessens the opening tension. A majority of the cut moments establish the relationship between Marcus and Gianna. The flirty humor is hacked away. Daria adds such a joyful spice to the film. But you wouldn’t have a clue if you’ve only seen the export version. She’s a minor character in that clipped version. Her role is what truly elevates Deep Red from a great giallo to a masterpiece of cinema. The long cut is a film about people and not merely a body count flick. Hemmings is well cast as the musician caught up in the bloodletting. Him trying to remember the missing portrait in the hallway harkens back to his photographer character in Blow-Up caught in the mystery of his picture. But the Deep Red mystery doesn’t end with a bunch of mimes faking tennis. Dario Argento returned to the thriller and delivered massive hit.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer gets deep into the details of the action. The moments when the camera get extremely close to a record player, piano keys and murder weapons dazzle on the screen. The audio is offered three different ways. First there’s the original Italian mono track. There’s also a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix to put you in the middle of the mystery. Finally there’s an English-Italian hybrid. Basically the producers didn’t make the original dub for the entire film. So the scenes excised are given in Italian so use subtitles.

Audio Commentary with Thomas Rostock breaks down the scenes including Argento’s hands as the killer’s paws.

Introduction (0:23) is given by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti.

Profundo Giallo (32:57) is a visual essay from Michael Mackenzie about the movie’s elements and history. The short is full of spoilers for this and The Bird with Crystal Plumage. Don’t watch until you see them both.

Trailer (2:43) let us know that Dario Argento is back to his thrilling and killing ways.

Italian Trailer (1:49) sets up Argento’s return with some amazing atmospheric sound and edited clips.

Rosso Recollections (12:26) sits down with Dario Argento to recount his masterwork. He had a good sense on the set that the film was going to be a hit. He speaks of the family elements of the movie.

The Lady in Red (18:47) interviews Daria Nicolodi. She recounts her professional relationship with Argento including how they fell in love at the time. She recounts the way her character was created including her haircut and how she used her hands. Daria has a fun Twitter feed to follow at @NicolodiDaria.

Music to Murder For! (14:07) interviews Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti. He goes into how the band hooked up with Argento to create the finest of creepy rock soundtracks. The last few years Goblin has been touring America.

Profundo Russo: From Celluloid to Shop
(14:30) is a tour of the bookstore and museum that’s run by Luigi Cozzi, the director of Star Crash. The basement has various props from their films. It seems like a fun place to shop although I’d hate to be their when they’re slashing prices.

6 postcard-sized lobby card reproductions perfect for framing.

Reversible fold-out poster featuring two original artworks

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.

Arrow Video presents Deep Red: Limited Edition. Directed by: Dario Argento. Screenplay by: Dario Argento & Bernardino Zapponi. Starring: Macha Meril, David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia & Giuliana Calandra. Running Time: 126 minutes. Released: April 10, 2018.

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