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DEEP RED
DVD region 2. Arrow Video.

Deep RedDeep Red is a pivotal film in Dario Argento's career, marking the crossroads between his early giallo movies (Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Cat O'Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet) and his move - briefly - into the world of supernatural sensory overload with Suspiria and Inferno.

In classical giallo style, the film follows a protagonist - in this case Marc Daly (David Hemmings), an English musician living in Rome - who becomes obsessed with solving a murder he's witnessed (as in most giallo films, the police are pretty useless and generally invisible). He's fixated on the fact that there is a missing piece of the puzzle that is right in front of him, if only he could remember what it was. Meanwhile, the killer is always one step ahead, killing whoever could help Daly put the pieces together - and coming after the witness himself, who is 'helped' by an annoyingly feisty journalist (Daria Nicolodi).

At this point, I should explain that there are two cuts of the film included in this DVD set - the international edit (called Deep Red) and an Italian only release - titled Profondo Rosso - that has about 20 minutes of additional footage. These days, this is the version most widely seen, but I'd suggest that the shorter version is the better one. The additional footage doesn't add anything to the story - it simply expands scenes far beyond their welcome, especially as many of them feature the ill-placed relationship between Hemmings and Nicolodi, who's character is extraordinarily annoying - the less we see of her the better, quite frankly. This cut has the original Italian title sequence, which is better, but the Deep Red cut is much tighter. Profondo Rosso has dual audio - the English language track is actually better (and no more dubbed) than the Italian one, but the extra scenes are in Italian only, which can be a bit jarring if you watch it in English - voices suddenly change entirely as subtitles appear. Again, the shorter cut doesn't have this problem.

Deep RedStill, you have the choice of which version to watch here - a good move by Arrow. And both are uncut for the first time in the UK.

And whichever you choose, Deep Red has enough going for it that you can ignore the bad parts. Argento's first film using a Goblin score, the film has a soundtrack that hammers away relentlessly (it's Goblin at full prog rock flow) and the visuals - looking wonderful here - often match, with weird angles, tight close-ups and vivid colours bleeding out of the screen. The violence is intense - the killings still seem pretty hardcore even today - and the plot, while unlikely to stand up to detailed scrutiny, will keep you guessing, as Argento piles on misleading hints and red herrings before revealing the unlikely killer (another giallo trait - the identity of the murderer will usually make no sense).

The two versions of the film and the luxurious packaging - which includes a booklet, poster and assorted fold-outs (review copies didn't come with this sleeve unfortunately, but if past Arrow releases are anything to go by, it'll be impressive) - pretty much ensure that you'll all be wanting this. Just as well, as the extras - while plentiful - are pretty weak. A few badly shot featurettes and a pompous commentary by an Argento 'expert' let the set down - something like this cries out for the sterling DVD extra work that David Gregory and Carl Daft have excelled at for years, not some bargain basement knock-off.

This quibble aside, Deep Red is an essential Italian horror classic from a director who's glories have long since faded.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK) DVDBLU-RAY

BUY IT NOW (USA)

 

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