31 Nights of Horror - Night 23: Deep Red (1975)

Deep Red is Dario Argento's giallo masterpiece. It is my favorite of all his giallo films. (Giallo (plural gialli) is an Italian 20th century genre of literature and film, which in Italian indicates crime fiction and mystery.)

The film is basically about an English musician, played intensely by David Hemmings, who tries to solve a series of murders after witnessing a powerful psychic medium die at the hands of an unknown killer. The killer is hellbent on keeping the dark secret buried. But, Marcus Daly (Hemmings) is also dedicated in getting to the bottom of it all.

Deep Red is beautiful art on film and it is plain to see Argento's stroke of the brush being fine-tuned in this film in preparation for his later masterpieces.

The film is filled with plenty of disturbing imagery and marks the first time Argento has worked with the infamous Goblin for the spine-tingling soundtrack. It is also the rare treat in the Argento universe where a tightly wound plot is utilized. There is plenty to pay attention to here as the script leaves many clues for the twister of a finale.

Another interesting tidbit is the fact that Argento used his own hands in the shots of the gloved killer. He's done this in a number of his films and further cements the fact that if were not for film Argento would be in a maximum security prison somewhere in Italy. Pure genius.

The performances are great in this film and it should be noted that Hemmings does a fine job anchoring the entire film as the pianist turned detective in which to find who the killer is. Longtime Argento actress, Daria Nicolodi also does a fine job....despite an unfortunate dubbing mishap. It's kind of cool to see Argento in his early days. He's never skimped on the gore...but, he was full of new, brilliant concepts back in the day.

The film is available in many incarnations, but the uncut version is probably the best. It's been said that Deep Red is often incoherent and choppy by American critics but, it is because of the severely edited U.S. version that it seems incoherent. Don't you just hate when that happens? Films are often given such a bad rap...especially in our genre...often because there is never a decent version available!

Deep Red is an unrelenting, unflinching treat for all of the senses. It is the rare horror film in the way that it is full of fine substance to go along with the inevitable scares and the buckets of gore. It's a wonderful way to spend a lonely Halloween evening with the lights down.

5 out of 5

Thanks for reading,