Anchor Bay presents
Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) (1975)
"I can feel....death in this room. I feel...a presence. A twisted mind...sending me thoughts....perverted, murderous thoughts! Go away! Go away! You....have killed. And you will kill again."- Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril)
Stars: David Hemmings
Other Stars: Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia
Director: Dario Argento
Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (extreme gore and graphic violence; probably a hard 'R')
Run Time: 02h:06m:35s
Release Date: 2000-05-23
DVD ReviewItalian director Dario Argento is well known amongst horror fans for his creatively gruesome cinematic homicides, and Deep Red is one of his best. Argento is one of the masters of the giallo genre, the Italian mystery-thrillers that emphasize bizarre murders, baroque visuals and psychological aberrations.
Deep Red tells of Marc Daly (David Hemmings), a jazz pianist in Rome who witnesses a murder and believes that a clue lies in a painting which he saw as he entered the apartment where the murder was committed. The painting immediately disappears, and as Daly tries to reach the truth, with the help of a reporter, everyone around him begins to be murdered in one gruesome method after another. The story is full of twists and turns and having it on DVD is quite handy to go back and revisit matters that didn't seem important at the time but which turn out to be vital. Mysterious whispered threats behind the scenes add to the nightmare of suspense that Argento builds up in this film.
Deep Red (original title Profondo Rosso) has been legally presented in the U.S. only in horribly mutilated condition until now; according to Video Watchdog, the U.S. video ran a mere 100 minutes, and the English-language Japanese laserdisc was about five minutes longer. Even the Italian cut was 121 minutes, but Anchor Bay has somehow come up with an additional five minutes of running time even beyond that, in cooperation with Argento and his staff, to create the ultimate director's cut of this important and influential film. There is a certain cost to this cut: the English-language tracks of about 20 minutes of the film were either never recorded, or the tracks were lost. Thus, the film switches several times from English to Italian and back; this is sometimes distracting because the Italian dubs don't match the vocal timbre of the English speakers. Obviously, the added material is easy to identify. The pacing of the film works quite well with these additions, and I don't see any of them as being a distraction. The plot is difficult to follow as it is, and I can't imagine how this film makes any sense at all with nearly half an hour cut out of it. This is surely the definitive way to see Deep Red.
This uncut version of the film comes to you with all its gore and grue intact; particularly hard to take is the first on-screen murder, where an cleaver is buried in the head of Helga Ulmann, a psychic who has identified the murderer. The cleaver pushes her head through a window; and her throat lands on the jagged edge of the broken glass. When she is pulled off, three large chunks of glass remain imbedded in her throat. The other murders are the equal of this one. Obviously, this film is not for the weak of stomach.
Argento's direction is stylish and he makes a great deal of use of pans and movement of the camera. When the mood strikes, he can also keep the camera completely still, such as when Daly and his friend Carlo are talking in the courtyard; they are held in a single long shot, at the extreme ends of the 2.35:1 picture with a large marble statue looming over them. The effect is suitably creepy. Argento can terrify with subtlety as well as over the top bloodletting. He also proves himself a master of montage cutting and use of the point-of-view camera; both are used plentifully and to good effect.
David Hemmings is quite believable and likeable as the hero who witnesses a murder (an obvious play on a similar role he portrayed in the 1966 thriller Blow-up); the restored scenes of his relationship with the reporter Gianna (Daria Nicolodi, who would star in several more Argento films) do a great deal to flesh out their relationship and personalities, all to the benefit of the film.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay has done a wonderful job with this film. It looks like it was shot yesterday. Not a bit of damage is to be seen, colors are vivid and natural, and shadows are rich and black. The anamorphic picture is sharp and full of detail. The image is just incredible throughout. Obviously, red is a vital part of the film, from the red interiors to the large pools of blood. The red is brought off brightly and vividly, without being over-saturated or smearing at any point. A first-class job of restoration and DVD authoring all the way around.
Image Transfer Grade: A
|DS 2.0||English, Italian||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: We get four soundtracks in two different languages: a DD 5.1 and Dolby Surround track in both English and Italian. Although the film is Italian, several of the actors are clearly speaking in English. Using the English track helped minimize the dubbing difficulties; however, the change in vocal tones for the restored footage is far less in the Italian version. It is thus quite a happy event that we are given both versions in 5.1, as well as Dolby Surround.
Anchor Bay did a nice job of remixing the soundtrack into 5.1. The classic score by Goblin (which had a tremendous influence on John Carpenter's score for Halloween) is presented in its full raucous glory, alternating with sudden silences for effect. There is a fair amount of surround material for mood, but it is not obtrusive or overtly noticeable. When one of the victims is drowned in scalding water, the sound of the water thrashing seems to surround the listener, really pulling you into the scene.
I would ordinarily knock the audio down a grade for not providing the original mono mix, but Anchor Bay has done such a stellar job in the remixing that I still consider this an "A" effort.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: The subtitles are written in large type, outside the frame, and are extremely clear and easy to read. They are apparently translated from the Italian text, for they don't match the English language track very well at all. The differences in emphasis are interesting. Oddly enough, some of the dates in the dialogue are different: in the English track at one point reference is made to a caretaker being at a house for twenty years; in the subtitles, he says he has been there since 1967.
The primary extra is a featurette (10:47) for the 25th anniversary of the film, which is largely composed of interviews with Argento. As I understand it, Argento feels his English is insufficient to do a commentary, so these subtitled interviews are the next best thing. Also interviewed is Bernardino Zapponi, the co-writer, who died in February, 2000, so his interview was particularly timely. There is a great deal of interesting background information presented here, and I just wish it were longer. The featurette is in DD 2.0.
Two theatrical trailers, presented in Italian, are offered twice, once with English subtitles and once with the subtitles burned in. I don't know why there wasn't just an optional subtitle track, rather than using the space for the trailers up twice, but this is surely a ridiculous quibble on this package. The layer change is completely seamless on my Sony S3000.
The insert to the package includes a fair number of production notes that aren't repeated in the featurette. Bios and filmographies for Hemmings, Nicolodi, Argento and Goblin are presented.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsAnchor Bay has done a splendid job of restoring Deep Red and presenting it in an absolutely top-notch manner. It both looks and sounds like a brand-new film. The content will be a bit strong for some but a terrific disc with respect to both video and audio. All that's missing is a commentary.
Mark Zimmer 2000-05-06