Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button

Feature


WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE REALLY SCARED!!!?

From Dario Argento, maestro of the macabre and the man behind some the greatest excursions in Italian horror (Suspiria, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage), comes Deep Red – arguably the ultimate giallo movie.

One night, musician Marcus Daly (David Hemmings, Blow Up), looking up from the street below, witnesses the brutal axe murder of a woman in her apartment. Racing to the scene, Marcus just manages to miss the perpetrator... or does he? As he takes on the role of amateur sleuth, Marcus finds himself ensnared in a bizarre web of murder and mystery where nothing is what it seems…

Aided by a throbbing score from regular Argento-collaborators Goblin, Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso and The Hatchet Murders) is a hallucinatory fever dream of a giallo punctuated by some of the most astonishing set-pieces the sub-genre has to offer.


Video


From what I can tell Deep Red has had its fair share of home video releases. I haven’t personally seen many of them, with my only other exposure coming courtesy of Arrow’s original Blu-ray release when I took screen captures for another reviewer’s piece. Like many of Arrow’s early Italian releases, said original Blu-ray initially looked like a clear step up from the DVD releases, but appearances san be deceiving. Closer inspection revealed a number of issues, not least the presence of persistent scanner noise and a sickly colour scheme that both looked unnatural and robbed the picture of depth. The compression also left much to be desired (and that’s being kind).

This new presentation is based on a 4K restoration of the original negative and looks all the better for it. For one thing the image has a more natural, filmic appearance without the artificial looking scanner noise of the previous Arrow effort. This leads to an increased levels of detail, with direct comparisons between the two versions confirming a distinct advantage to the new master (largely because the scanner noise obscured detail in the older version). The odd, yellow colour cast that prevailed on the old transfer has also been banished, resulting in a far more pleasing image with more natural hues (particularly skin tones) and purer whites. There are also fewer instances of print damage, with what little there is being largely unremarkable and certainly unobtrusive. The image is quite contrasty at times, with deep blacks that often threaten to swallow up the on-screen action but never do (even when they’re at their inkiest they never truly crush detail). On the whole this is an admirable presentation that soundly trumps the previous offering.

Audio


Disc one includes Italian audio tracks in both LPCM Mono and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, along with an English-Italian hybrid mix in LPCM Mono. The last of these tracks is the one I chose to listen to for the purposes of this review, as it seemed to be the correct choice given that the actors are largely speaking English throughout. As with most Italian films in my collection (mainly discs from Arrow to be fair) the actors’ dialogue was looped in post-production, with some providing their own voices and others being portrayed by entirely different people. Again, as is usual the looping is fairly loose, so it’s obvious that you’re not listening to dialogue recorded on the set. I’m not a particularly big fan of this as I find that it tends to disconnect me from the on-screen proceedings, but that’s just a personal thing. It’s also worth mentioning that English audio was never recorded for the twenty minutes of footage Argento originally cut from the film, so those sections of the film play with Italian audio accompanied by optional English subtitles.

As for the audio, well it’s about as impressive as one might expect given the limitations of the source. I found that I had to set the volume on my amp a little higher than usual to achieve comfortable levels for the dialogue, but once I made the adjustment I didn’t have any problems with  intelligibility. Obvious the monaural nature of the mix limits its dynamism, but it never sounds flat or lifeless and there are no obvious audio anomalies to report. My only real complaint is likely due to the original audio design, rather than down to a fault with the mix, which is that Goblin’s music has a tendency to drown out the other elements. I was viewing the film quite late at night and as a result I found myself reaching for the remote a couple of times when the music threatened to wake the baby…

Although I – and many other people if the articles I’ve read are any indication – consider the English track to be the ‘correct’ way to listen to the film, you also have the option of the original Italian mono and a new 5.1 mix if you prefer something a little different or more expansive.

Extras


This limited edition release includes not one, but two versions of the main feature, along with a soundtrack CD and a host of other supplements both new and old. Here’s a quick breakdown:
 
Disc One: Director’s Cut

  • Audio Commentary with Argento expert Thomas Rostock
  • Introduction to the film by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin
  • Profondo Giallo – A brand new visual essay from Michael Mackenzie offering an in-depth look at Dario Argento’s early films and the road to Deep Red
  • Rosso Recollections: Dario Argento’s Deep Genius – the Deep Red director on the creation of a giallo masterpiece
  • Lady in Red – Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profondo Rosso
  • Music to Murder For! – Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red
  • Rosso from Celluloid to Shop – a tour of the Profondo Rosso shop in Rome with long time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi
  • Italian Trailer

 Disc Two: The International Theatrical Cut

  • US Theatrical Trailer

Disc Three: Profondo Rosso – The Complere Original Soundtrack Recording (CD)

  • 28-track CD featuring the entire Deep Red film score from Italian progressive rock band Goblin and composer Giorgio Gaslini
  • 6 x postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
  • Double-sided fold-out poster featuring two original artworks
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
  • Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film and an archive piece by critic Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Unfortunately we did not receive the soundtrack CD, lobby cards, poster, artwork or booklet, so I’m unable to comment on them or indeed take them into proper consideration when awarding an extras score.

Overall


This marked my first viewing of Deep Red and truth be told it wasn’t really what I was expecting based on the sheer number of glowing reviews I’d previously seen. In all honesty if this emblematic of the best the giallo genre has to offer I don’t think I’m representative of the target audience. I’m sure there are people who would question the wisdom of such a person reviewing this film for the website, but I’ve never subscribed to the theory that one has to be enamoured with a film in order to review it. After all, I’m offering my own opinion, not validating those of others. Perhaps it’s Argento films in general, as I haven’t really gotten on with what little of his other output I’ve seen, but for all of its visual style I found Deep Red a little ponderous and, dare I say it, predictable. With that said, I did find the visual composition arresting, particularly the quick, close-up inserts, so I can at least appreciate Deep Red’s aesthetic merits. Those of you looking for a more in-depth and overwhelmingly positive view of the film you might want to check out our own Gabe Powers’ take on things here.

Anyway, to the real purpose of the review – the technical qualities of the release. I can imagine a great many people watching this new Blu-ray release and being disappointed with the audio-visual quality, because it certainly doesn’t look anything like your average transfer of a modern feature. No, Deep Red looks very much of its time and in my opinion it’s all the better for it. The image is wonderfully textured and has real character, and if not for the occasional bit of residual print debris and damage it would have scored even higher. The monaural audio is incredibly limited by today’s standards, but the quality of the track is still very good and although it can be quite jarring at times you won’t forget Goblin’s score in a hurry. Of course Arrow releases are renowned for their bonus material and this limited edition of Deep Red is no different. Not only do you get two separate cuts of the film – director’s and international – you also have a substantial collection of commentaries, featurettes, interviews, trailers, the entire soundtrack CD, lobby cards, a poster and of course the customary reversible sleeve and booklet. The film may not be to my particular tastes, but the Blu-ray release is certainly a winner.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Deep Red
 Deep Red
 Deep Red
 Deep Red
 Deep Red
 Deep Red
 Deep Red
 Deep Red


Links: