Deep Red a.k.a. The Hatchet Murders (Italian: Profondo Rosso), 1975.
Directed by Dario Argento.
Starring David Hemmings, Gabriele Lavia, Daria Nicolodi, Macha Meril, Glauco Mauri and Clara Calamai.
A music teacher investigates a series of brutal murders by a mysterious, hatchet-wielding psychopath.
After making his name domestically with the “animal trilogy” of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1972), Italian horror maestro Dario Argento shifted gears for the period comedy The Five Days (1973) before returning to the giallo for his fifth feature Deep Red (1975). Proving to be his international breakthrough film, Deep Red is regarded by many fans as the highlight of Argento’s illustrious career and is often cited as the best giallo ever made.
With numerous versions of the film in existence fans in the UK are finally set to enjoy an uncut release courtesy of Arrow Video, with a two-disc DVD featuring a 100-minute theatrical cut and 121-minute Director’s Cut (both of which benefit from a crisp, restored transfer). The set is also packed with special features including an introduction by composer Claudio Simonetti and commentary from Argento expert Thomas Rostock, along with three featurettes, two trailers, a fold-out poster and exclusive collector’s booklet.
A violent and stylish murder mystery, Deep Red stars David Hemmings (Barbarella) as Marcus Daly, an English pianist making his living in Italy as a music teacher. After witnessing a brutal attack on a psychic woman (Macha Meril), Marcus rushes to her apartment but arrives too late to save her life. Joining forces with local news reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi, the director’s future partner and mother to Asia Argento), Marcus sets out to investigate the slaying with the body count increasing as his obsession grows.
While it follows a rather standard format, Deep Red is an unnerving and suspenseful thriller which perfectly captures Argento’s visual style of storytelling, adopting bizarre camera angles, fluid movement and inventive use of depth of field combined with a striking colour palette and expert lighting. The cinematography is matched by a superb soundtrack by Italian prog-rock band Goblin that really adds to the film, while the grisly and prolonged death sequences are meticulously executed and particularly brutal. Although the film has its flaws (the acting was never likely to trouble the Academy and the narrative includes its fair share of plot holes), it’s easy to see why Deep Red proved such an influential entry in the horror genre and the film certainly worthy of its status as a fully-fledged masterpiece of the giallo.
Deep Red is released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 13th 2010.
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