Directed by Dario Argento [Other horror films: L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970), Il gatto a nove code (1971), 4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Tenebre (1982), Phenomena (1985), Opera (1987), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Black Cat’), Trauma (1993), La sindrome di Stendhal (1996), Il fantasma dell’opera (1998), Non ho sonno (2001), Il cartaio (2003), Ti piace Hitchcock? (2005), La terza madre (2007), Giallo (2009), Dracula 3D (2012), Occhiali neri (2022)]
I saw this some years back; I couldn’t have been any older than 14 or 15. And I liked it – I hadn’t had much experience with either giallos or Argento’s work, but I liked it. Seeing Deep Red for the second time, it not only lived up to my recollection, but far surpassed them.
There’s nothing I don’t like about this movie, and if I had to nitpick, I guess I’d say that they should have made the blood look a bit more realistic than it did. But even so, at two hours and seven minutes, never once did I lose focus in the movie or interest in finding out who the killer was (like I said, I’d seen this before, but it’s been so long that I forgot who was behind the brutal murders).
The kills are actually a little weak at times, but there were also some classics here, such as the graphic finale (absolutely loved it), along with the death of another character toward the end. Even the first current-day death was decent, what with being hacked to death by a cleaver. I just wish there had been a few more deaths, but that’s not so much a complaint as wishful hoping.
Italian band Goblin composed the score to the film (they also did Suspiria‘s a few years later), and it was magnificent. Some fun electronic progressive Italian-synth tunes can’t go wrong. The movie already had an artistic feel to it, due to masterful cinematography, but the music helped elevate to even higher heights. And that haunting children’s song? That won’t soon be out of my head.
I won’t get deep into the actors as I sometimes (perhaps too often) do – the fact of the matter is that there’s not one performance that I would have preferred removed. There was a little overacting at times, but given how well everything else worked, it wasn’t much noticeable. David Hemmings was amazing as the main character, and while aspects of his character were troubling (his antiquated sexism, for instance), he was very compelling in his role. So too was Daria Nicolodi – while she wasn’t as important to the story as I thought she might be, her presence helped a great deal (the car scenes added some light humor to the film, which was somewhat welcomed).
Most of this film is the main character trying to remember an important thing he witnessed at a scene of a murder. He slowly pieces together clues, we get a few red herrings, along with a few fun flashbacks, and eventually, after a lot of investigation, we finally have our answer. I loved that – the scenes at the old house were all fun and suspenseful despite mostly being safe, and the discoveries made, along with how he went clue to clue, were all so fun also.
I have no complaints about this film. It helped that I was able to find a beautiful copy online, in original Italian with English subs. Call me a snob if you want, but if I had watched this dubbed, I don’t think it would have made the same impact. As it is, this is a fantastic movie, and easily a favorite of mine now. Dario Argento didn’t disappoint with this one.
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