Deep Red

Deep Red (1975)
Blue Underground
Cast: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Gabriele Lavia
Extras: Featurette, Theatrical Trailers

Cherished by man as Dario Argento's ultimate masterpiece, "Deep Red", which is probably better known under its original Italian title "Profondo Rosso" is a giallo that could easily rank as the textbook version of the genre. Mutilated and cut in most territories of the world, "Deep Red" hardly found its way to the fans the way it was originally envisioned by director and writer Dario Argento. True to their mission to bring films to audiences in the cuts and versions that were originally intended by the filmmakers, Blue Underground has now prepared a Blu-Ray Disc version of "Deep Red" that features the American theatrical Cut of the movie, alongside a 126 minute version of the film that is completely uncut and uncensored!

A number of years ago, filmmaker Bill Lustig, who happens to be Blue Underground's owner and a friend of Dario Argento's, made it his mission to restore the film back to its original form with the help of Dario Argento, no matter what lengths he would have to go to. He can certainly be assured that he has the gratitude of legions of fans of the movie, as well as Argento's himself, who has very kind words to offer for Lustig's undertaking in the interview segment of the disc. The uncut version was first released on DVD by Anchor Bay in 2000 and is now making a come-back on the Blu-Ray Disc in high definition for the very first time.

The story of "Deep Red" may not be very innovative as it features a rather formulaic giallo outline and suspects, but it manages to build an incredible tension as it slowly works its way towards the movie's climax. British jazz pianist Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) lives in Rome and one night witnesses a murder from the street. But he is unable to recognize the killer. All he can see is someone in a dark coat fleeing the scene.

Soon, Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nocolodi), a tenacious local reporter, joins him to find out who is behind the grizzly murder. As soon as they begin looking into the background of the events, following a trail of seemingly senseless clues, more bodies turn up and it becomes ultimately clear that Marcus' life is also in terrible danger.

The two have to make sure they unmask the killer before he comes too close, but what do you do when all your informants turn up dead?

After watching this uncut version of "Deep Red" I was in incredible awe at how much material had been painstakingly re-inserted into the film — sometimes only split-second bits that extend a sentence. Compared to the original US cut of the film, all in all some 30 minutes of additional footage has been reinserted into the movie.

From these back-insertions it is evident that much of the character development of the movie had fallen victim to the scissors — mostly to bring down the running time it appears — as did some of the more gruesome scenes and a few side plots. While all these elements made it back into the film now, it is also evident however, that this longer cut has a much slower development than the film's previous versions, giving the characters much more dimensional personalities, which eventually increases the drama surrounding them.

Nonetheless, if you are familiar only with the 98 minute US cut of the movie, be prepared to revise your understanding of the film entirely as relationships and character traits are explored in much more detail, giving the film a very different feel. The new cut also manages to fill some of the logical holes found in previous cuts, although the story still takes some liberties when it comes to the explanation and rationale behind certain events in the film.

While the film's story may be very traditional, its execution in "Deep Red" is certainly not and it makes the movie a remarkable achievement. From a filmmaking standpoint, Argento tried to push the boundaries of the genre a little. Having practically invented the genre himself with "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage" five years earlier, he got somewhat confined on his own turf and intentionally attempted to introduce new elements to reinvigorate his work. Interestingly, these new elements are not so much found in the content but in their delivery. The highly voyeuristic use of the camera with extreme close-ups, the slow-moving exploration of the sets and the deliberate composition of his frames made all the difference, and would eventually culminate in such things as Argento's infamous Louma crane shot in "Tenebre." It is hardly surprising after all that "Deep Red" is the most visually striking entry of the giallo genre.

"Deep Red" also pushed the graphic display of violence quite a bit for the genre and some of the shocking shots of the film still do have an incredible impact on the viewer. While it is never excessive or gratuitous, Argento managed to create visuals that are lasting and brutal without splattering the entire screen with blood, ultimately giving the film a lot of violent style with restrained class.

The presentation of the movie on this Blu-Ray Disc from Blue Underground is absolutely marvelous. I am at loss for words to explain how fantastic this transfer looks. While the previous DVD versions were fantastic, the high definition transfer on this Blu-Ray release simply take up another solid notch.

The transfer is presented in an incredibly detailed 1080p high definition that restores the movie's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image is without blemishes and grain is found only in select scenes where it adds to the overall feel of the atmosphere. This transfer brings Argento's masterpiece to life like never before with deep and solid blacks that maintain the brooding look Argento designed for many of his scenes, while the powerful color reproduction of the transfer contrasts them with stark and bold colors. Especially the movie's opening minutes are bathed in bloody red that is finely delineated without a hint of noise or color bleeding. Perfectly reproducing even the most subtle hues and tinges, "Deep Red" does its name full credit.

The release also contains a full-blown DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track, in English and Italian. The remixes of these tracks have been done very carefully and never deviate too much from the film's original mono mix but use early reflections and other subtle elements to create a deeper and more engrossing sound stage. Aggressive surround effects are not existent but the natural frequency response and additional bass extension removes much of the tracks previous limitations and gives it a rather natural sounding quality. The mix is generally good, although I found the balance a little inconsistent where quiet parts were almost too quiet to understand in low volume listening environments while the music was still very dominant.
"Deep Red" features a soundtrack by the Italian synth rock band "Goblin." It was their first collaboration with Argento and they would later return to cooperate with him on numerous films including "Shock", "Tenebre", "Dawn Of The Dead" and "The Church" among others. It is a very stylish track that has in part become synonymous with Argento's work and nicely adds to the overall experience.

The release also contains the 25th Anniversary Featurette that was part of the DVD release also, featuring interviews with Dario Argento, Goblin and co-writer Bernardino Zapponi. Argento elaborates quite a bit on his intentions and ideas for the film, as well as his understanding of filmmaking in general in this 10-minute featurette. The movie's original Italian trailer as well as the US trailer can also be found on the disc.

You will not believe your eyes when you first insert "Deep Red", I promise! Given the fact that so much footage has been inserted into the movie from various sources there is no indication that gives any of that away. The quality is staggering and mesmerizing, celebrating Dario Argento's masterfully crafted film in its entirety here. Never has the film looked any better, never has it sounded any better and it has never been more complete than on this release!

If you love giallo, you just can't afford not to see this!