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Originally published by Dr. Terror`s Blog of Horrors

ITALIAN HORROR WEEK – DEEP RED – Ruminations on the Argento Classic from One of the Formerly Uninitiated.

Having grown up in the suburb of Mississauga, On Canada, a place that was great to grow up in but devoid of any of the cool, niche video stores that populate the so close yet so far metropolis that is Toronto, my introduction to anything other than the mainstream horror was stunted. Being the late 80’s early 90’s when I started to really pursue my education in earnest, one summer I systematically went through the entire horror section at the local Jumbo video and rented every tape they had, the internet was a funny place that you could download and watch a movie trailer in the blistering time of 45 minutes to an hour. Without the availability of something as amazing as the modern internet, with IMDB and the millions of torrent sites, back in the late 80’s/early 90’s tracking down rare films required actual homework. And with my local video store favoring films like “April Fool’s Day” and “Sleepaway Camp” to fill their shelves, the likes of Bava, Fulci, and Argento never seemed to show up.

Of course I have tracked down a lot of these films in the decades since, but “Deep Red” remained one of the few that have eluded my grasp, until now. Recently I had been given a copy of the Blue Underground ‘Uncensored English Version’, basically all the original gore restored but the romantic storyline has still been excised. And after being asked by Mr Terror himself to contribute an article to this year’s Italian Horror Week rundown, I felt this was as good a time as any to dig into the DVD and see what the film is all about. Starring David Hemmings and frequent Argento collaborator, and mother of daughter Asia Argento, Daria Nicolodi, Deep Red is considered by many to be Argento’s masterpiece for good reason. The performances are solid and the story sufficiently creepy and tension packed that it sucks you in almost immediately and keeps you invested until the blood soaked ending. 
The film opens with a flashback murder shown from the perspective of a child while an eerie nursery rhyme plays. Cut to the present, pianist Marc Daly (David Hemmings) witnesses the murder of a psychic while chatting with his drunken pal, Carlo (Gabriele Lavia). While the police investigate, Marc joins forces with attractive reporter Gianna (Daria Nicolodi). Once Marc realizes that he is a target for the killer, he seeks help from Giordani (Glauco Mauri), a professor of the paranormal, who also becomes one of the killer’s targets. Marc’s research leads him to an abandoned house where he discovers a secret room that hides a shocking secret. Before he can call the cops, he is knocked out and awakens to find the place in flames while Gianna holds him. Racing to the neighbors to call for help, Marc discovers an important clue that leads him to a nearby school where he finally finds the killer’s identity.

The film looks gorgeous and is vibrant in color and shadow. Argento’s camera has never been sharper as he frames sequences to maximize in effect and build tension. Hemming’s Marc is an inquisitive and intrepid sleuth, fascinated by the murder of his downstairs neighbor and falling further down the rabbit hole as he cannot turn away despite the danger he is courting. Argento puts Marc in the sinister surroundings of an old decrepit house and an old rundown school house during his travels, and Marc discovers the results of this serial killer’s nefarious plans more than once along the way. Mauri’s professor has the most surreal encounter with our killer, clearly an inspiration for James Wan and Leigh Whannell when they were writing the ‘Jigsaw’ character for their “Saw” movies, as a creepy looking doll literally bursts into a room and makes a beeline right at him. The spunky and infectious charm of the beautiful Nicolodi play well off of Marc’s descent further into obsession and make everyone, not just Argento, fall in love with her. This is one of the rare instances where I would have loved to have seen more of the romantic backstory involving this pair. It also should be noted that Lavia’s perpetually drunk Carlo is also a strong character that could have easily gone too far over the top and become completely useless if not for Lavia’s performance.

The deaths and gore are all glorious practical effects that have held up quite well over the years. The attack on the psychic is violent and brutal, finishing in the crash through a window that combined with a blood curdling scream alerts Marc to the murder scene. The cleaver cuts deep and decisively as the camera does not shy away from the damage inflicted. Mauri’s demise is also a brutal and unflinching affair that sees him take a bunch of abuse before the final blow. The finale is a bloody affair that has aged the least successfully, yet despite an inherit cheesiness that it has come to exhibit is still packs a satisfying punch. The score also jumps off the screen as Argento’s go to band for music Goblin has produced another infamously classic collection of score and song for the film. The timeless music is also enhanced by the special features on the DVD which include an audio commentary featuring Goblin talking about the production of it.

In the end, Deep Red has quickly become my favorite Argento film. It is gorgeous film to watch and still manages to lure you into the intrigue and danger of the story. It remains a film that stays with you after the final credits have run and while not the complete version of the film, the Blue Underground version is solid and features some great bonus videos as well. I’m glad I can finally mark this classic of my list of shame and tell you all about my experience with the film.

Till Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

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