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DEEP RED aka PROFONDO ROSSO ($30) is one of director Dario Argento’s films that I’ve often heard spoken of by fans and critics, yet never actually had the opportunity to see. After watching Anchor Bay Entertainment’s excellent DVD edition of DEEP RED, I can honestly say that I’m glad that my first experience with the film has been the full-length director’s cut, instead of the abbreviated English version that was missing approximately 30 minute of footage. Anyone familiar with Argento’s debut film THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE will notice a number of thematic similarities with DEEP RED. However, stylistically DEEP RED is the work of a more mature filmmaker. Both films are driven by the common element of a man witnessing a brutal crime and then having to grapple with his memories to get at the truth of what he has seen. Additionally, in both films the protagonists end up playing detective and risk their own lives to find the killers.

DEEP RED stars David Hemmings as Marcus Daly, an English jazz pianist living in Rome. One evening, Marcus witnesses a noted psychic being brutally attacked with a hatchet from the street below her apartment. Rushing to the woman’s aid, he enters her apartment, but arrives too late to save her life or catch the assailant. Later, when the police question him, Marcus is troubled by a vague memory concerning one of the paintings in the woman’s apartment seeming different. Unable to let go of the events he witnessed, Marcus begins his own investigation of the crime with the aid of Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi), a female reporter on the prowl for a good story. In spite of this, every time Marcus thinks he is getting close to the truth, the killer puts another grizzly roadblock in his way. The plot of DEEP RED certainly isn’t original, plus there are some gaps in logic. However, it is Argento’s visual mastery that makes DEEP RED an important horror/thriller. Argento’s wide screen compositions and camera movements elevate DEEP RED beyond the ordinary shocker and keep the viewer’s eye on the action, even at times that they would rather turn away from the horrifying violence on the screen. The cast of DEEP RED also includes Gabriele Lavia, Macha Méril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra, Piero Mazzinghi, Glauco Mauri and Clara Calamai.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done an absolutely first rate job with their DVD edition of DEEP RED. As I mentioned above, the director’s cut of the movie has been painstakingly restored, making this the first complete release of DEEP RED that anyone has seen in America. DEEP RED is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and the DVD features the anamorphic enhancement for playback on 16:9 displays. Image quality on this DVD is superb, providing a picture that is sharp and highly detailed. Just about every frame of DEEP RED is consistently clean and free from age related blemishes. Noticeable film grain is also virtually absent from this presentation. Colors are vibrantly rendered, especially the deep reds, without a trace of chroma noise or bleeding. Flesh tones appear natural, except for where the actor’s makeup specifically tries to give them an unnatural pallor. Blacks are solid and true, plus the level of shadow detail is respectable for a film from 1975. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed by the use of dual layers to maximize the data rate.

DEEP RED is presented here with new English and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks, which were created for the DVD release by Chase productions. Nevertheless, there is one caveat with the English soundtrack option on the DVD. The director’s cut of DEEP RED includes footage that was either never dubbed into English or for which the English sound elements were lost. Therefore, those scenes that have been restored to DEEP RED are presented with Italian dialogue and English subtitles. For those put off by the film switching languages, DEEP RED can be viewed entirely in Italian with the option of English subtitles. Overall, the new 5.1 channel tracks open up the sound, giving it a nice spread around the soundstage, but neither is what one would call an overly directional mix. The film’s music is by Giorgio Gaslini and Goblin, a group that collaborated with Argento on a number of his films. Goblin’s music is reproduced quite well in 5.1, and I am assuming that this would be a vast improvement over how it sounded in the original monaural mix.

The interactive menus include music and a mild amount of animation. Through the menu system, one can access the expected scene selection and set up features, as well as a number of extras. Extras include a 10-minute featurette, which was produced for the film’s 25th Anniversary. The featurette contains interviews with Dario Argento, co-writer Bernardino Zapponi and members of Goblin. Also included on the DVD are U.S. and Italian theatrical trailers, plus talent bios.

DEEP RED is a film that shows director Dario Argento at the top of his form. Anchor Bay Entertainment really delivers the goods by creating a DVD that every Argento fan will want to own. For them, this DVD is absolutely recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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