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Old 06-27-2004, 03:20 AM
Scored: 10
Views: 12,518
Default Deep Red

Reviewer: Styx
Review Date: April 13, 2000

Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 4/25/2000
MSRP: $29.98
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes

Dario Argento's fifth feature film, Profondo Rosso aka Deep Red, is one of my favorites. A giallo masterpiece, Profondo Rosso has very few equals in the realm of suspense and style. Now Anchor Bay has released this important Argento film on DVD and fans with DVD players can now throw away their sixth generation dupes in favor of this beautiful new release. Throughout this review I will be referring to Deep Red as Profondo Rosso, the title I most identify this film with. But make no mistake, Deep Red and [/b]Profondo Rosso[/b] are the same film.

The Story

inline Image During a parapsychology conference in Rome a psychic, Helga Ulman (Macha Meril), who has the power of telepathy senses the twisted thoughts of an audience member. She senses the killer's murderous thoughts and proclaims that he/she has killed and will kill again. That night after the conference is concluded a hatchet-wielding psycho attacks her in her home. Meanwhile in the vicinity Marcus Daly, (David Hemmings) an English Jazz pianist living in Rome, while walking home with his friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia) hears the awful screams of the psychic being slaughtered. He sees her up in her window just as she's struck with a hatchet and her head goes crashing through the glass window. Marcus races up to Helga's apartment, which happens to be below his own.

inline Image He arrives too late and finds the body of the psychic quite dead. The police arrive on the scene and question Marcus, who explains what he saw happen. An unwelcome reporter, Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi), pops in to take photographs and spots Marcus. Marcus, going over the events in his mind, thinks he saw something in the apartment when he first entered, but later when he took a second look it wasn't there. The next day Marcus attends the funeral for the dead psychic along with Gianni. She points out Giordani (Glauco Mauri), a professor of psychology who dabbles in parapsychology. He was close friends with Helga and witnessed the incident at the conference in which she called out to the killer. Marcus soon speaks with Giordani who describes the events at the conference, but unfortunately no one got a positive look at the killer and it seemed Helga was pointing in a general location and not necessarily directly at the killer.

inline Image Marcus, who's still fascinated by what he saw at Helga's apartment, now believes it was a painting that mysteriously disappeared. Marcus investigations finally lead him to a mansion that may have had some relation to the killer. He makes a discovery there and believes he's one step closer to the truth. The killer, who is well aware of Marcus's attempts at solving the murders, begins to cut off his avenues of information by killing off the people who could provide him with a critical clue. Now Marcus and Gianna must unravel the mystery of who the killer is before they become his/her next victims.

inline Image Profondo Rosso and Argento's follow-up film Suspiria are arguably the high point of Argento's excellent career. Although subsequent films like Inferno, Tenebre and Opera come close, none in my opinion match the splendor of Profondo Rosso and Suspiria. Profondo Rosso, like many of Argento's films has a running theme of a stranger in a strange land an outsider who stumbles upon a mystery of murder and intrigue and quickly finds himself entangled. In Suspiria it was a young dancer from New York who travels to a German school to perfect her ballet skill. In Phenomena it was Jennifer Corvino who travels to Switzerland to attend an all girl school. In Tenebre an American writer travels to Rome to promote his new book Tenebrae and in Profondo Rosso it's an English pianist living in Rome who witnesses a murder and soon finds himself compelled to solve the mystery of who the killer is.

inline Image From a story standpoint these scenarios are ideal as we identify most with the outsider. In essence we become that person exploring strange and unfamiliar territory while putting the pieces of the puzzle together with the foreknowledge that the killer could be lurking around every corner. This leads to a lot of great suspense as Argento mixes the gloriously brutal and stylistic killings with the mystery and suspense elements that are crucial to a successful giallo. The Italian "giallo" genre has a rich history of horror and mystery films going back to the legendary Mario Bava's films such as Blood and Black Lace, made in 1964, and Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve) made one year after Argento's Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Not to mention the films of Sergio Martino like Torso and Lucio Fulci's giallo films Don't Torture a Duckling and New York Ripper. Of course to list all the great director's and giallo films would require enough pages to fill a book so I'll not bother trying. I think Argento, however, is the master of his craft combining extreme sense of style and a keen sense of direction.

Visually Profondo Rosso is a splendid example of Argento's visual style and use of a 2.35:1 composition. Argento makes great use of the frame filling it with meticulous details that you can uncover upon repeated viewings. The film is also full of dreamlike imagery, scenes involving an incident that may have turned the killer into what he is. The first time watching Deep Red these dreamlike scenes make little sense, but like in Tenebre, by the end of the film all will be made clear in arguably one of Argento's greatest finales. Adding to the visuals are the stylistic killings, which are executed beautifully. Though the killings are brutal, they don't necessarily cross the line of being excessive. Each killing has a meaning and plays an important part in the story and how it unfolds, they aren't just their to thrill the viewer and make up for a shitty script like every slasher from the mid 80s and onward.

Profondo Rosso, in addition to the fabulous visuals, has one of the greatest scores I've heard. This film was Argento's first collaboration with the Italian band 'Goblin' and the results are mesmerizing, creating a musical score that drives the ferocity of the killings and plays up the suspense aspects of the film. I have Goblin's Profondo Rosso. score on CD and it's an absolute favorite of mine. In one of the previous commentaries for either Tenebre or Phenomena (I forget which) Argento states that Goblin's work in Profondo Rosso was their best collaboration and it's easy to see why. Profondo Rosso is truly a remarkable film and a great accomplishment by Argento who's sadly seldom recognized outside horror fan circles. Hopefully with this new DVD release Argento will attract a whole new generation of fans that have unfortunately been brought up on crap like Scream.

Image Quality

inline Image Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Deep Red letterboxed at 2.35:1 in a new 16x9 enhanced transfer. Right from the start I want to say I'm a proud owner of the Spectral Collection Japanese Laserdisc Box Set which contains both Profondo Rosso and Suspiria. The Japanese LD of Profondo Rosso was fantastic and the film looked as if it had been filmed yesterday, so I had high expectations for this DVD. After watching this new DVD I was very impressed with the stellar job Bill Lustig and Anchor Bay have done with the transfer. It is every bit as good as the Japanese LD and even better. The image is extremely sharp and finely detailed bringing to life Argento's beautiful composition. The extra boost in resolution is definitely noticeable when compared to the Japanese LD, which was also very sharp and well defined, but not as much as this new transfer.

The transfer is pristine and practically devoid of any print damage like specks and scratches. The image is also clean with hardly a hint of grain detected. The transfer's colors are phenomenal - perfectly saturated and vibrant without any bleeding or noise. The reds in particular look beautiful and since that's is an important shade in Argento's color scheme it's important they look as good as they do. A good example of the beautiful reds takes place in the parapsychology conference. Flesh tones appeared very natural without any oversaturation and the blacks were dead on. This is simply a fantastic job and even more amazing when you consider Profondo Rosso was made in 1975, which makes it 25 years old.


Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Profondo Rosso sounds excellent. Previous home video versions of Profondo Rosso have always sounded muffled and not very engulfing, but this new mix, though not heavy on surround effects, is more fuller and able to carry a lot more atmosphere. Overall this mix is very respectful to the original mono score, much like Anchor Bay's 5.1 remix for Halloween. The disc also contains an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 track, 2.0 surround tracks are also provided in both English and Italian.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Okay let me get this off my chest straight away - I hate the damn cover art. I mean really, certainly there could've been something better and more appropriate to adorn this excellent release with than a corpse. It tells a prospective buyer nothing about the film and gives one a wrong impression about the film. I'd think this kind of cover is more appropriate for a "zombie" film and not a film like Deep Red. Well, besides that small complaint the rest of the features on this disc are good. Deep Red and Inferno were originally supposed to have audio commentaries with Argento, but they were scrapped for some reason so the only other extras on the disc is a 10 minute featurette and two theatrical trailers. The featurette celebrating Profondo Rosso's 25th Anniversary include interviews with Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi and all four members of "Goblin". Argento talks about Deep Red and describes how he thinks it's his most important film. Bernardino Zapponi discusses his involvement with Argento and how he came to co-write [/b]Profondo Rosso[/b].

He also mentions how he recommended Daria Nicolodi to Argento, who would of course go on to play an important part in his films including writing the screenplay for Suspiria. Dario Argento also talks about Profondo Rosso's original composer and why he was replaced with Goblin. In some ways I think documentaries are better than commentaries because here we get to see Dario Argento and the members of Goblin and not just hear their voices. Still, a running commentary would have been great and is missed. The disc also contains two theatrical trailers; one is the US trailer and the other is the Italian trailer. The US trailer is of poor quality especially compared with the beautiful new transfer, but it is 16x9 enhanced. The Italian Trailer comes in two flavors - one with English subtitles and one without. The trailer is basically images without any dialogue and it is much better than the US trailer in my opinion, but seems too bright; the Italian trailer is also 16x9 enhanced.

inline Image inline Image

Not packed with supplements for sure, but the featurette contained on the DVD is short but sweet and it's nice to have instead of just getting a movie only edition.

Final Thoughts

Profondo Rosso has never looked this good and Argento fans who are waiting for a big release of one of his major films should look no further than this disc. Anchor Bay has done a fantastic job on the image and sound, and presenting Deep Red the way it was intended. With releases like this Anchor Bay are going to put dupe dealers out of business and I couldn't be happier. This excellent release almost makes up for the fact Suspiria has still not made it to region 1...well, almost.


Image Quality - A
Sound - A-
Supplements - B

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Unrated
  • 1 Disc
  • 32 Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Italian Dolby Digital 5.1

  • 25th Anniversary featurette on Profondo Rosso (Deep Red)
  • English and Italian Theatrical Trailers

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