Deep Red (1975)

During a parapsychology conference in Rome, Helga Ulmann (Macha Méril, Belle de jour), a medium, announces that there is a murderer in attendance. Later that night, a jazz pianist named Marcus Daly (David Hemmings, Blowup, Gladiator) hears screams from across the street, directly above his apartment. He rushes over only to catch a glimpse of a fleeing man in a trench coat. After the local police question him, sure something had been removed from Ulmann’s room, he and reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi, Tenebra, Opera, Phenomena, Inferno) begin to investigate. However, each time Daly believes he has found a lead, upon attempting to interview the next person on the logistical rung, he discovers the murderer has preceded him.

    Tagline: You will NEVER forget it!!! / Flesh Ripped clean to the Bone... And the Blood runs Red... / When was the last time you were REALLY SCARED!!!? PSYCHO? The EXORCIST? JAWS? Now there's DEEP RED.

    AKA: Profondo rosso (Italy, original title) / Tamno crveno (Serbia) / Rojo profundo (Argentina) / Prelúdio Para Matar (Brazil) / Rojo oscuro (Spain) / Les frissons de l'angoisse (France) / Les frissons de la terreur (Canada)

Directing:
  • Dario Argento

Writing:
  • Dario Argento
  • Bernardino Zapponi

Release Date: 1975-03-07

Dario Argento

Director/Writer/Murderer's Hands (uncredited)

Bernardino Zapponi

Writer (screenplay)

Claudio Argento

Executive producer

Luigi Kuveiller

Cinematography

Franco Fraticelli

Film Editing

Giuliano Laurenti

Makeup Department (makeup supervisor)

Giovanni Morosi

Makeup Department (makeup artist)

Nicla Palombi

Makeup Department (hair stylist)

Carlo Rambaldi

Special Effects

Germano Natali

Special Effects

Carlo De Marchis

Special Effects Assistant (uncredited)

Claudio Simonetti

Composer (as Goblin)

Fabio Pignatelli

Composer (as Goblin)

Walter Martino

Composer (as Goblin)

Agostino Marangolo

Composer (as Goblin)

Massimo Morante

Composer (as Goblin)

Stefano Rolla

Assistant director

David Hemmings

Marcus Daly

Daria Nicolodi

Gianna Brezzi

Macha Méril

Helga Ulmann

Eros Pagni

Supt. Calcabrini

Giuliana Calandra

Amanda Righetti

Glauco Mauri

Prof. Giordani

Aldo Bonamano

Carlo's father

Vittorio Fanfoni

Cop taking notes

Dante Fioretti

Police photographer

Geraldine Hooper

Massimo Ricci

Fulvio Mingozzi

Agent Mingozzi

Jacopo Mariani

Young Carlo

Lorenzo Piani

Fingerprint Cop

Nick Alexander

Newscaster (voice) (uncredited)

Salvatore Baccaro

Fruit Vendor (uncredited)

Geoffrey Copleston

Bardi (voice) (uncredited)

Bruno Di Luia

Concerned Man in Restroom (uncredited)

Carolyn De Fonseca

Gianna Brezzi (voice) (uncredited)

Attilio Dottesio

Florist (uncredited)

Tom Felleghy

Surgeon (uncredited)

Edward Mannix

Olga's Father (voice) (uncredited)

Glauco Onorato

(uncredited)

Ted Rusoff

Captain (voice) (uncredited)

Marc Smith

Giordani (voice) (uncredited)

Franco Vaccaro

Pietro Valgoi (uncredited)
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  • Dario Argento (Suspiria, Tenebre, Opera, Phenomena, Inferno), the foremost visual auteur of the Italian horror directors (more consistent than his often-cited counterpart, Mario Bava), presented the world with his first masterpiece, Deep Red, a.k.a. The Hatchet Murders, a psychoanalytic thriller which crosses the visual and narrative techniques of Alfred Hitchcock with the setting, mood, and style of Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. The result is a landmark in horror as Argento’s genre-bending hybrid draws a tension-filled razor across his audience’s nerves that has consequentially produced a resounding effect on modern horror and its filmmakers. Argento’s Deep Red stands as one of the landmarks of giallo cinema. Like Alfred Hitchcock, he narrates his murder mystery through brief snippets of images that insinuate plot relevance when they may or may not relate to the crime. However, Argento turns the thumbscrews by lacing the work in pulp horror, adding to the impending threat which could be coming from any direction at any given moment amid the acts of the ambiguous antagonist which, by sheer force, refuse to be restrained as we are forced to witness the murders as they occur, the capstone of which is the fact that the murder is so effective in his agenda that, although we witness the crimes themselves, we never see the perpetrator. Deep Red is one of the primary reasons that Italian horror carries the stigma of placing plot second-tier while prioritizing cinematography and editing. Yet, unlike some of his contemporaries, Argento’s decision to construct his film in such a manner wasn’t due to personal preference or narrative lethargy. Rather, the director chose to organize his filmmaking efforts in this manner in order to achieve penultimate cinematic effect. For the latter, Luigi Kuveiller’s editing is perfect for the genre in which Argento finds himself for, more than any other category of film, pacing is key, otherwise a thriller loses its crux: narrative tension. In respect to the former, Argento is first and foremost a painter of celluloid and this is the first example in his canon of a stunning mastery of his trademark technique in color, light and shadow, framing, and choice of iconography, all of which culminates into a powerful, stunning tour de force as a result. Of the four, his choice of staunchly impressionistic imagery is most impressive: we are treated to cold, porcelain dolls; leering, black leather gloves; meshed teeth; a drab, apathetic city of stone laced with fog, all of which impose themselves relentlessly upon the mental palette of the audience amid a narrative rife with fear and perpetual danger. A large portion of the film’s power is due to Fellini screenwriter Bernardino Zapponi’s efforts. He creates a playfully antagonistic relationship between the characters of Daly and Brezzi (they even arm wrestle at one point during the film), thus adding to the naturalism of the film instead of creating a simple mystery, unlike so many poorer attempts at the genre which allow their protagonists to proceed through their investigation without the impediment of the nuances of life. Paradoxically, this adds to the audience’s anxiety because we fear that, amid the duo’s quibbling, the murder may be further eluding detection and plotting another crime. Also, by setting the film in Italy, Brezzi allows the ancient city to tower ominously over the two protagonists as their control over the situation continues to dissipate as the story progresses. Dario Argento’s Deep Red wears its influences proudly upon its sleeve but never plagiarizes. Rather, it combines the more potent aspects of its predecessors into a new hybrid of horror which has since impacted the whole of the genre to no little effect. John Carpenter’s POV cinematography is arguably derivative of Argento’s work, its effects most readily viewable in Halloween, while James Wan’s Saw has no qualms about modestly displaying its mentor’s influence via a less-than-subtle allusion during one of the film’s most frightening moments. Trivia tidbit: Argento personally asked Pink Floyd to do the soundtrack to Deep Red before hiring Goblin.

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