Deep Red (1975)

DVD Cover (Blue Underground)
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Overall Rating 72%
Overall Rating
Ranked #2,345
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A psychic who can read minds picks up the thoughts of a murderer in the audience and soon becomes a victim. An English pianist gets involved in solving the murders, but finds many of his avenues of inquiry cut off by new murders, and he begins to wonder how the murderer can track his movements so closely. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 22, 2007
As I mentioned in my review for "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage", most people know Dario Argento as a horror director. They often take for granted his skill and ability within the thriller genre. It's understandable. This film also suffers from continuous comparison to "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage" and Argento was starting to get quite a bit of flack for keeping on with the serial killer films, which is partially what inspired him to venture out onto a limb for his next picture, "Suspiria". However, this review is for "Deep Red", the film he made before "Suspiria" and before his themes and tones started shifting to more supernatural, more outrageous places.

The quick plotline: The film opens with a scene of absolute brilliance, with a famous psychic (Macha Meril) in the middle of a lecture sensing a murderer in her presence. She is soon brutally murdered by an unknown killer, witnessed by piano player Mark (David Hemmings). Teaming up with a journalist (Daria Nicolodi), they both set out to track down the killer and solve the mystery. Like "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage", they both end up being pursued by the killer and fighting for their lives. And, in typical Argento fashion, there is a twist ending. I assume you're always drawing comparison between this film and "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage". That's because the similarities are very real. One widely discredited rumor states that Argento was unhappy with "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage", re-vamped the story somewhat and them re-shot it as "Deep Red". Seems unlikely, but Argento has always been known as an eccentric and very demanding director, i.e. Stanley Kubrick.

Whenever I give my lecture on "The Influence of German Expressionism On Modern Cinema (1970-Present), one of the directors I most closely examine is Dario Argento. His use of color, light, music, shadow -- all of it -- is what made German Expressionism so impacting and so memorable. Italian horror is the only genre to attempt to capture all of that magic all over again. Italian horror masters were trying to revitalize German Expressionism for a new age of cinema-goers, and they did so with the blend of unorthodox music, bright and sometimes harsh colors and very sharp and distorted angles. In a way, they took German Expressionism to the next level. "Deep Red" was one of the first films to fully utilize this attempted new technique, and Argento really spearheaded the movement, with "Suspiria" standing as one of the true masterpieces of this particular art form. "Deep Red" showed us a glimpse of what was to come from Argento and you can see it all over the film.

All of that said, "Deep Red" is a thriller, not a horror film. It has always scared me because Argento has this weird ability to make his violence and his killers seem real, to me. In "Deep Red", we can see the absurdity and the over the top 1970's antics afoot, but we still see the killer as a formidable opponent and we see these situations and these incidents and wholly believable and terrifying. Like "Halloween" drew on the realistic and the possible, so does "Deep Red" on the idea that this killer could be living next door to you right now. "Deep Red" is one of Argento's most celebrated and popular works, and I find it so enthralling because of the techniques Argento used in this film that he would utilize more heavily in forthcoming films. "Deep Red" helped re-shape the 1970's German Expressionist-Expressionist movement. It's a must see. 9/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 05/22/2007, 01:55 AM
Just saw this a week or so ago as well, right after Bird. It was about the same for me, in terms of how much I liked it. 10/10
Ginose #2: Ginose - added 05/24/2007, 07:46 PM
This is a masterpeice of suspense cenima... Argento's finest... yes better than "Suspiria"...
Nirrad #3: Nirrad - added 07/26/2008, 12:39 AM
Besides the beginning being boring, and a stupid ending, this movie was great. 8/10 for me.
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