DEEP RED (2 DISC R2 SE)
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
A killer is on the loose, and after a psychic is slain, a pianist tries in vain to hunt the killer, but as each lead is cut off and brutally murdered, the madness spirals out of control! Throw in some creepy dolls, an awesome score by Goblin, and a healthy does of "What the f*ck did I just smoke?", and you have Dario Argento's Profondo Rosso - Deep Red.
Is it good movie?
Why is it that the length of time I watch an Argento movie has a direct correlation with the intensity of my headache? Don't get me wrong, I love his movies. I mean, his films rank right up there in the "liquor and whores" level of my favourite things. I just have a hard time wrapping my simple noggin around most of his twisting and downright painfully artsy narratives. Seriously, a pianist? Yeah, that's who I'd want hunting serial killers. But while this classic has it's many moments of vague and esoteric Italian art crap, it's still a hard hitting horror flick that, in places, will scare you on a deep and primal level.
Yep, mostly I'm talking about that damn doll. It is 100% pure nightmare fuel, leering at me from the cover letting me know I'm not bloody sleeping tonight. Seriously, one of the creepiest scenes I've seen in a long time, and an influential one as well (Saw, anyone?). Gore wise, the kills themselves are brutal and intense, and the throbbing prog rock score (Yeah Goblin!) just makes it all the more surreal and jarring. The cast is great (despite the dubbing/recording issues), the camera is trippy and the story is seriously convoluted and only a little contrived. Let's put it all this way, it's like watching your average serial killer movie after a mescalin/cough syrup binge, then switching to MTV on Halloween, and never knowing the difference. It all sort of blends together and leaves you panting, sweating and in a great deal of confusion and pain, but you know, in a good way! It has moments of absolute terror, cut together with music video like sequences that are gorgeous and haunting (despite making little sense), and while it doesn't always hit the audience in the right way, there are certainly more chest shots than wing clips here.
The movie itself is gorgeous, and this new transfer by UK specialty distributor Arrow Video is brilliant, but I'm coming to expect that of them. They pick classics that are more often than not obscure to the majority of horror audiences today, and they give them a royal treatment, as if every grindhouse slasher and B-grade schlock fest is deserving of the Criterion Collection release. And I love it. The presentation here is amazing, and if you're a fan of Argento's work, this one movie itself, and you can play Region 2 discs, this edition is a must have. The director's cut is, to me, the superior version, but that's just my taste. I'll leave that one up to you.
Video / Audio
Video: While I'm not completely sure, it looks like standard Widescreen at 1.85:1, but that could depend on what kind of TV you're playing it on. Your mileage may vary.
Audio: Dolby 5.1 Surround and Dolby 2.0 Italian with English subtitles, as well as both Mono and Stereo English language tracks. The synth in the score must be heard in 5.1!
Most of the features are very excellently put together, as is the norm with Arrow Video, who go out of their way to produce quality extras to expand the world of these cult films for the audience. Nicely done!
Disc 1 contains a new transfer of Argento's director's cut, along with:
- Optional Dolby 5.1/Stereo Italian Audio and Mono/Stereo English* Audio
- Introduction by composer Claudio Simonetti
- Audio Commentary with Argento expert Thomas Rostock
- Rosso Recollections – Dario’s Deep Genius
- Lady in Red: Daria Nicolodi remembers Profondo Rosso
- Music to Murder For! Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red
- Original Italian Trailer
- Original US Trailer
Disc 2 contains a new transfer of the International Theatrical Cut, plus:
- A Tour of the Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) shop in Rome with long time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi
The Boxset itself contains:
- Two versions of the film completely uncut for the first time in the UK
- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned art work
- Two-sided fold-out poster with new art work
- Exclusive collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on Deep Red by Alan Jones, author of ‘Profondo Argento’
Deep Red may not be for everyone (just like Argento himself), but it's easy to see the influence that this movie, and it's visual style, had on not only horror films and younger directors, but also on scoring, music videos, PR design and an entire sub-genre of movie - the serial killer flick. Representative of Argento and the stage of his career where he was hip deep in the trenches making the movies he wanted to make, and a fine piece of giallo cinema, it is presented here in a well put together set that any fan would love to own.