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Review Deep Red a.k.a. Profondo rosso (1975): A giallo classic!

genre: giallo, horror, mystery, thriller

It's so weird, I could have sworn I had already written a review for one of Argento's best works. But I guess it's better late than never. And what better way to review the 4K ULTRA HD / Arrow version that has been released recently.

First some brief thoughts about the quality of the 4K transfer. I wasn't even aware how crisp and clean it looked until I compared it with a DVD version I have. But what really impressed me was how the HDR provided a good contrast between light and dark. Not a hint of grain or noise. And in pivotal scenes you could actually see the silhouette of someone moving around when coming from a light area into a dark space. I also quickly checked the Blu-ray version from Arrow and I have to say that I hardly noticed a difference. For reference this is on a BenQ TK700STi - 4K DLP Projector with a Fromm & Starck Projection screen - 229.5 x 145 cm - 16: 9 (100 inch). But for the sake of fairness I will do a proper comparison soon enough. Considering it's the same source material it can be expected that the differences will be huge.

In essence, like most giallo's, Deep Red is a murder mystery, a whodunnit. Most of the thrills and suspense is built on unraveling the mystery and finding out who the killer is. So why would you want to revisit this film if you already know who this killer is? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First of all, the film derives most of it's tension from the ambiance, atmosphere and use of colours. This in combination with some spooky and creepy settings will put you on the edge of your seat every time. Second, the killer and the murders. The killer is incredibly ruthless and unrelenting. It's like an unbridled rage is leashed upon the victims and you the viewer aren't spared. Third, the incredible musical score by Goblin. As with Suspiria the score is integral to the film. It's foreboding and ominous. Last but not least, the direction by Dario Argento. The master shows what good giallo's should consist of and essentially demonstrates what is the most effective. Less is more. Only show the minimal and despite the violence you need to know when to be subtle. Some people find this film to be slow and boring. And yes I am not going to deny that certain scenes do seem to go on a little too long. On my what must be like my sixth viewing I was prepared to skip through these scenes. Except I didn't and couldn't. Because even in these slow scenes certain clues and details are revealed that are vital for solving the mystery. Remember, I know who the killer is and still I wanted to make sure if I had overlooked some things. 

There is one big moment, shortly after the first murder (the scene where Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) rushes in to help the victim) that had me stumped. But before I discuss this I wonder if Dario realized that a little invention called the VCR could ruin the whole viewing experience by pressing the pause button. Actually it's this exact moment that has Marcus puzzled. He was sure he had seen something but wasn't there when he looked the second time. Is he imagining things? He is so bothered by this that he wants to get to the bottom of this. And to be frank, like him I also had seen something which had me pause the film and looking for that moment. Naturally in theaters you don't have the option to pause so I guess the idea was that like Marcus you as a viewer are supposed to believe you are imagining things. If you don't want this spoiled then don't click the Show / Hide button. You have been warned.

In any case for your own enjoyment especially if you are a first time viewer not to pause or pay a lot of attention to it. Since the investigation done by Marcus and Gianna (Daria Nicolodi) is a quite compelling watch. Now I do have to say that I still don't get the humorous banter between Marcus and Gianna. They are interacting like they have known each other for years but they have just met. It's like Dario wanted to recreate the screwball comedy moments between two potential lovers but because of the brutal murders it's completely misplaced. Yet at the same time does help decrease tension for a little bit so that the creepy scenes and murders do feel more intense. Plus it does add some extra charm to Marcus. 

This is the one film that got me hooked into everything giallo. Most giallo's next to being murder mysteries manage to play around with conventions so much you never truly know what to expect. Most importantly it's immense fun. Even when it deals with deeply disturbing themes. Deep Red might not be perfect it certainly is a masterpiece. Anyone who disputes this don't know what they are talking about.

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