Saturday, March 8, 2014

70s Class: Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso)

A Classic remains a Classic.  How do you follow up a film like Suspiria?  It's a tough prospect- that's for sure.  For many, that was the last truly great film that Dario Argento film.  I respectfully disagree with that broad assessment, but let's approach the film with that mind-set.  What does Dario do?  It's simple- make another great Giallo film (following the Animal Trilogy)!  As such, he made Profondo Rosso aka Deep Red aka Dripping Deep Red aka The Hatchet Murders aka The Deep Red Hatchet Murders.  On the plus side, this wasn't falsely-labeled as a Sequel (or was it?).  The film has a plot you've probably heard a million times.  A Jazz Pianist witnesses the murder of a famous German Psychic and decides to investigate it.  How many times have you seen this plot?!?!?  You could say that Argento has/had a thing for reluctant heroes in his Giallo films.  They were either unwilling witnesses (Deep Red, Bird With Crystal Plumage, Cat o'Nine Tails), related to the crimes by circumstance (Tenebrae) or targeted by people they don't know (Opera, Four Flies on Gray Velvet).  He had a type, you see.  So is this film the Classic that you remember/everyone tells you that it is?  To find out, read on...
The film begins strongly with the sound of a lovely Children's Song interrupted by murder.  You'll get an explanation for about two hours.  It is a Mystery after all.
 At a Parapsychology Conference, a German Psychic reads the room.  She freaks out when she senses an evil presence in the room- that of a killer!

The film makes a clever use of POV to show the guilty party fleeing the scene...for now.
Around this time, our hero- David Hemmings- is a Jazz Pianist.  He walks across the Street to...the painting 'Nighthawks' apparently and witnesses said Psychic's murder.

He runs to the scene, but doesn't see the killer...or does he?
The Pianist and a Reporter- future Argento bed Daria Nicolodi- try to solve the crime, since...well, why not?

Is it just me or are they looking into my soul?  Stop judging me!
The mysterious killer- whose hands actually belong to Dario Argento- starts taking people out that get close to the crime.  He/she has a flair for the dramatic.  We could all learn a lesson from him/her.
The Pianist- not to be confused with Adrian Brody, who would later still in his own Argento film- investigates an abandoned School for answers.  He uncovers a drawing hidden behind some plaster that is a bit creepy.
Carlo- the crazy friend of the Pianist- has a gun and appears to be upset.  He meets a pretty bad end involving a truck and the tire of a different car.  Sorry, crazy Andy Samberg.
It turns out that the Killer was hiding from Hemmings in the beginning.  It is the downside to having an alternating series of mirrors and creepy paintings on your wall.  I knew that there had to be one!
We get a nice and gory death set-up for the finale involving a necklace and an elevator.  I would love to see Mythbusters test this one too.

What are the odds that Superman III and Deep Red would have that in common?  Weird.  The End.
I have no real complaints, honestly.  The Story is simple enough on paper and that's fine.  The film works by giving us a number of ancillary Characters that either get killed or give exposition.  Hemmings and Nicolodi make a good pair, playing off each other well.  Their Characters are somewhat cliche- quirky artist and aggressive Reporter- but they have some nice subtext to them.  The film features some graphic gore, but nothing too over-the-top.  For you younger viewers, you may get a kick out of just how red the blood is.  Human blood has never looked that bright, but that was just how it happened in films back then.  I like how the film's plot clearly inspired later films like Halloween and Friday the 13th.  You know what the best part is?  The Goblin Soundtrack, of course!  It is just pure awesomeness.  I won't SPOIL everything here, because you really need to see this movie if you haven't.  If you like Thrillers and don't mind a bit of gore, you will like it.  Argento's Giallos from this Era are just damn good- no question.  In fact, the only thing I can really use for a Stinger is this sign on a window that was clearly just glued on (badly)...
Next up, let me finally catch up with a film I watched around a Month ago.  With a tenuous connection to slightly-better film, this Son has alot of heavy lifting to do.  Stay tuned...


  1. I just saw this this past Friday myself and I definitely dug it too. Familiar plot, yes, but like you said the characters and actors are good and I always enjoy watching those crazy giallo mysteries unfold. Plus that chick's death at the end was just fantastic.

    1. Good. As a true lover of Horror, you must watch at least the bulk of the early Argento catalog:

      Deep Red
      Bird With The Crystal Plumage

      People are torn on anything he made after 1996 or so, so I'll let you make that call on your own. Get to it! :-)

      Incidentally, I have another Giallo review or two coming down the pipe. Keep an eye out.