Yea yea yea. I know. I promised a huge Argento-a-thon months & months ago in the form of a retrospective DVD box set film review of sorts. Been busy and went trippin the light fantastic. But I'm back. So... without further ado...
Let's have our asses some Argento, starting with DEEP RED...
Que the high pitched Moog intro...
HIT IT UP
1975's Profondo Rosso (also known as Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders) is probably Dario Argento's best know and most popular cinematic presentation amongst Giallo and Horror afecionados alike. Profondo Rosso provided Argento with international exposure, helped amass a legion of fans, and set industry standards for Thriller and Horror genres.
The original Italian version kicks in at 126 minutes worth of film, whereas a lot of US versions remove around 22 minutes worth of footage. Most footage removed includes the graphic violence, all humorous scenes, almost all of the 'romantic interludes' between David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi, and unfortunately part of the subplot regarding the house of the screaming child. Ripped off badly there my American friendos...
For the rest of the free world, the full-length Italian version (with English subtitles and one small cut by UK censors) is available on video in the UK. But for the hardcore Argento freaks out there, the only known widescreen print of this full-length Italian version can be found in... wait for it... Australia!!! This version is completely uncut and is screened on both SBS-TV and its pay-TV channel World Movies. And you thought all we had was Steve Irwin jumping on crocs and bloody kangaroos.
The basic story behind Profondo Rosso is we have music teacher Marcus Daly (Hemmings) as he investigates the violent murder of psychic medium Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril), which he witnesses in an apartment building. After his attempt to rescue the medium fails, Daly realises he could have seen the killer’s face among a group of portraits on the wall of the victim’s apartment but is unable to find or recognize it when the police arrive. Later in the film, he also initially overlooks another clue that causes him to discover a mouldering corpse walled up in a derelict house. In typical Argento fashion, one murder leads to a series of others as Daly’s obsession with this vital clue that he fails to understand endangers his life and that of everyone with whom he comes into contact. This inability of a character to interpret or comprehend what he has seen is a common theme in Argento’s films and was used repeatedly in Tenebrae.
Get back, or I'll knit you to death, I swear...
The killing of Helga Ulmann is prefaced by a child’s doggerel tune, the same music that accompanies the film’s opening sequence in which two shadowy figures struggle until one of them is stabbed to death. The music serves as the murderer’s calling card. When Daly hears it in his own apartment soon after becoming involved in the case he is able to foil his attacker. Later, he plays the tune to Giordani, a psychiatrist, who theorizes that the music is important because it probably played an integral part in a traumatic event in the killer's past. The doctor’s theory is of course correct, as the identity of the killer is finally revealed as Carlo’s insane mother Martha (Clara Calamai). When Carlo was still a child, he watched as she murdered her husband when he tried to have her committed, then entomb his body in a room of their house. Daly’s discovery of the corpse is one of the film’s most dramatic moments.
Mrs Bates, it's about your son Norman...
In the climax, Martha confronts Marcus and tries to kill him. Wielding a butchering knife, Martha chases him around the complex and into a room with an elevator. Marcus is stabbed in the shoulder by the knife, and kicks Martha toward the elevator shaft. A long necklace she wears catches in the bars of the shaft, leading to her death by decapitation when Daly summons the lift. The film ends with Daly staring into the resultant pool of blood.
Profondo Rosso follows fairly classic Italian Giallo plot lines, and as such for me is much more Argento Thriller than your Argento Horror styling. The film is violent (unless you're watching the US version... sorry...) and filled with massive amounts of suspense and "build up" moments, all focused of the machinations of murder. If you like your films with a fair degree of "ultra violence", for a 1970's film Profondo Rosso was certainly just that, ultra violent. Killing scenes were particularly drawn out and emphasised, and the blood flowed red. Stabbings, hot water scalding, bashings, decapitation, Profondo Rosso is replete with them all.
Argento was originally slated for the American History X remake
One of the cooler directorial aspects used by Argento through the film is the presaging of events by other minor, or seemingly insignificant events. As an example, the bathtub murder is "played out" by an earlier scene when Daly is scalded by an espresso machine. The same is seen where a child’s doll hanging from a noose and a brief cut to a dog fight foretells the killer's demise at the end of the film. The chain worn around the killer's neck becomes entangled in the bars of an elevator and lifts the killer into the air until they are decapitated.
Shaun, You've got red on you...
With Profondo Rosso, Argento started implementing many techniques that would become his trademarks in films to come. The very noticeable usage of odd camera angles, rolling cameras, and weird lighting techniques found their first usage by Argento in Profondo Rosso. Too, Profondo Rosso was the 1st of a number of films Argento employed Italian Prog Rock band Goblin in to rip out a more than memorable musical score for. Go on. Admit it. Don't you wish YOU wrote and performed the opening musical score? Yea, me too...
As far as horror/ thriller/ slasher films go, it's more than a hoot. Even Argento himself had a ball making it, so the stories go. Not only did he direct the film and write the script, he did actually act in it too. The closeup shots of the killer's hands, clad in black leather gloves, were performed by Argento. The film inspired him so much that he named his shop in Rome 'Profondo Rosso' after this film.
On the down side, on 16 May 2010 George A. Romero announced he planned the 3-D remake of Deep Red. The release is planned for 2011 an will completely screened in English-language. Let's hope it doesn't turn out like Romero's current utterly unforgivable excuse for a movie, Survival of the Dead (2010). Eeeehhhh....
No George, noooooooo......
SKULL SCORE OUT OF 5
Seriously kids, it's pretty damn hard to not give this piece of horror movie history anything but a perfect goddamn score. Even them hardass fuckers over at Rotten Tomatoes give this a damn perfect 100% rating. You honestly want me to go against that shit? Didn't think so...
Directed by Dario Argento
Produced by Salvatore Argento
Cinematography by Luigi Kuveiller
Music by Goblin
Release date(s) March 7, 1975 (Italy) June 11, 1976 (US) January 18, 1980 (US re-release)
Running time 126 min
Written review and animated movie GIFs by stonerphonic © September 2010
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