Deep Red (1975) Review

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I want to acquaint myself with more Italian horror. I’ve seen only a few over the years, which is rather shameful for someone who loves horror so much. I found a restored version of a Dario Argento film on YouTube. Apparently the original negative was incomplete and someone found a bunch of missing frames and edited them back into their rightful places.

I can’t say that helped anything but it’s always nice when the whole film can be viewed like the original creators wanted.

Deep Red is the story of Marc, a jazz pianist, who witnesses the murder of telepath, Helga. Now embroiled in the mystery (no thanks to reporter, Giana, who plastered his photo all over the front page making him a target for the killer), he decides to investigate on his own. What exactly did Helga glean from the killer’s mind? How does the killer seem to be one step ahead of Marc at every turn? And why does that bitch, Giana, even still have a job after putting Marc in the killer’s sights MULTIPLE TIMES??

At the urging of Helga’s colleagues, Marc looks into some local folklore, particularly an abandoned house where some bad shit went down 20 years ago. Is it connected to our mysterious killer? You can bet your sweet ass it is. The only question now is this: can Marc find the killer before the killer finds him?

deepred1
Tell me I’m pretty…

As I’m typing this I realize I’ve only seen one Argento film, Suspiria. *flogs self as punishment* And it is a great film. I remember it being very stylized, lots of bright colors (red, at least), artsy, spartan sets and set ups. All of that is very much the same in this film. Many of the scenes are monochromatic – and I mean the scene, the wardrobe, the props, everything – or there are splashes of dramatic color against more drab backgrounds. There are a TON of long or wide shots, solo actors amidst an empty town square or back-lit in open doorways. Lots of cut scenes with super close-ups of weird or singular objects – an eye, piano keyboard, strange dolls, paintings, etc.

Not sure if these were some kind of metaphor or just style choices but Dario likes it. A LOT.

The sound mix is strange. Half the movie is in English and half is dubbed in Italian. I’m sure it might have something to do with the restoration. Maybe the Italian parts were the missing frames? Made it a bit distracting but not too terrible. Also the music is completely wrong. I was expecting more of an atmospheric, dark, eerie soundtrack but what we got was the 70s version of an Italian Action Jackson film.

deepred2
Aarrrggh…there’s still 40 minutes left to watch!

Despite the groovy tunes, the pacing on this is for shit. Dear gods the artsy bullshit, the long shots, the cut scenes, the pensive faces back and forth, ad nauseam. Could have cut out at least 30 minutes of this and still had an interesting film. But at just over two hours, I took a break so I could go walk my dog and get the blood that had pooled in my ass back through the rest of my body.

In general, this is a mixed bag: awesome kills (with that bright red blood so favored in Italian horror/thrillers and 60s and 70s films in general), mediocre acting, cool story, too much “it’d be hipster-cool now” crap, some gorgeous style but just too many scenes to show off how artsy it is, good mystery but killer reveal was more meh than a-HA. If you’re a Dario Argento fan, I would consider this a must see film. For those of us wanting more Italian under our belts (*rowr*), it’s a good experience and I’m glad I watched it. For the casual viewer, though, I’d say skip it.

6.5 Hatchets (out of 10)

About the Author

Peggy Christie has been writing horror fiction since 1999. Her work has appeared in several websites, magazines, and anthologies, including Necrotic Tissue, Code Z: An Undead Hospital Anthology, Black Ink Horror, Elements of Horror, and Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes. Her short story, “Why Be Normal?”, opened the anthology Reckless Abandon from Catalyst Press which premiered at the Horrorfind Convention in 2002. Her collection, Hell Hath No Fury, was published by Hazardous Press in May of 2013. Peggy is also the Secretary of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. She even has her own webpage. Check it out at themonkeyisin.com.

Peggy loves Korean dramas, survival horror video games, and chocolate (not necessarily in that order) and lives in Michigan with her husband and their two dogs, Roscoe P. Coltrane and Dozer.

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