Monday, September 17, 2018

Tip-top giallo: Dario Argento's DEEP RED gets deluxe Blu-ray treatment in an uncut version

When DEEP RED, the fifth full-length film from Italian horror-meister Dario Argento, was first release in the USA back in 1976, 23 minutes were hacked out of it to better make it fit the usual horror-film length. Now that the new Arrow Video Blu-ray is here, in a rich and sparkling transfer that makes the film look considerably better than TrustMovies has ever seen it, we can now assess a film that, even in its bowdlerized version, clearly seemed to be Argento's finest work.

Never one to make too much of plot credibility and depth of character, Signore Argento (shown at left during the time of the film's production) still managed to bring to the fore a certain amount of psychological depth, as well as some social concerns of the time period.

This is particularly true of Deep Red, as shown via this uncut, 127-minute version in which the male fear of gender equality and the under-cutting of machismo entitlement are on full display.

Argento's facility with camera angles and widescreen composition -- his cinematographer was Luigi Kuveiller -- is constant and compelling. How gorgeous and often breath-taking is just about everything we see here -- including the adeptly staged murders!

His star in this film (David Hemmings, below) is once again -- as with his antagonists in Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Cat O' Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet -- an "outsider" working in Italy, this time as a jazz pianist and teacher named Marc Daley.

Marc hears and then sees a murder being committed in the building above him and begins to do his own sleuthing to discover some answers, thus putting in danger himself, along with a lot of other folk.

These would include his eventual girlfriend (nicely played by Daria Nicolodi, above and below) and oddball best friend (Gabriele Lavia) plus just about anybody/everybody involved in this twisty tale that begins with a family murder and ends with that family completely wiped out.

The film begins with a nod to the paranormal involving a sleek and still quite beautiful Macha Méril (below, center, of Une Femme Mariée), which gives the plot its initial push -- after which paranormal turns merely murderous.

For a change with Argento, the plot twists build nicely and relatively believably, along with the suspense, and there are fewer jaw-dropping, nonsense moments. The finale, too, comes with a shock and a jolt, and for once does not rely on coincidence or any last-minute rescue by the cavalry. The final shot, too, is a keeper: bloody awful -- and precisely enough.

From Arrow Video and released here in the USA via MVD Entertainment Group, Deep Red (Profondo rosso in the original Italian) hit the street last week, September 4, on Blu-ray -- for purchase and/or rental. As usual with Arrow Video, there is a host of terrific Special Features, including Profond Giallo, a very interesting and intelligent half-hour visual essay on the film by Michael Mackenzie; an interview with Argento about this and others of his films; an interview with star Daria Nicolodi; and another with Claudio Simonetti of the group Goblin who did the music for the movie.

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