Really, it was like I didn’t see it at all, because watching an Argento work in anything but a crisp-as-chips format is like eating pizza with no cheese or tomato sauce.
Now, thanks to Blue Underground, “Deep Red” not only makes its Blu-ray debut, but is presented in both an uncensored English version and Argento’s cut, which runs a full 20 minutes longer. Watch that one, because now the work is deeper and redder than ever before — in short, a visual revelation.
David Hemmings of “Blow-Up” stars as Marcus, a jazz pianist unofficially moonlighting as an amateur detective. Why? Because looking up from the street one night, he witnesses a famed psychic, fresh from a European parapsychology conference, taking a sharp implement to the shoulder and then having her neck ventilated via her broken window.
After meeting perky journo Gianna (Daria Nicolodi) at the crime scene, Marcus gains a partner in poking around for the black-gloved murderer. Naturally, several other Italians are slain before that occurs.
With a Hitchcockian flair and a sometimes near-microscopic approach, Argento establishes each of his set pieces with suspense that is genuinely unnerving, and tension that is near-unbearable. At no point does this pay off more than when one character believes he is not alone in his home; Argento’s camera switches to his POV toward a wall, behind which the disturbance may reside. Since our natural tendency is to focus on the center of the frame, the intruder emerges from the side. Making it all the more effective is the guise of said intruder (I won’t spill, but don’t watch the trailer first), cementing the scene as one of maybe five in film history that actually terrified me. Still does. The icing on that freak-out cake is the tooth trauma that then occurs.
And that’s not the only dirty trick Argento has up his sleeve. From an early mirror bit that chills, to a blistering bathroom sequence, to the elevator mishap that sends you off, “Deep Red” is a study in stellar sequences of unfortunate homicide. That they’re scored by Goblin lends them an extra-thick layer of anxiety, not to mention notes you’ll be unable to drive from your head for days.
Goblin appears as part of a 10-minute retrospective piece (one that interviews Argento, too, of course, who calls “Deep Red” his best film) and in a new music video for the creepy, enduring synth-rock theme. Also included is a rather amusing, eight-video vid from the ’80s by an act called Daemonia, in which the theme is covered while the musicians re-enact the film’s most famous scenes. Part tribute/part parody, their obvious love for the flick is shared. —Rod Lott