North American one-sheet
|Directed by||Dario Argento|
|Produced by||Claudio Argento
|Written by||Dario Argento
|Edited by||Franco Fraticelli|
|Release date(s)||7 March 1975 (Italy)|
|Running time||126 minutes|
|Box office||₤3,709,723,000 (Italy)
$629,903 (United States)
Deep Red (original title Profondo Rosso; also known as The Hatchet Murders) is a 1975 Italian giallo film, directed by Dario Argento and co-written by Argento and Bernardino Zapponi. It was released on 7 March 1975. It was produced by Claudio and Salvatore Argento, and the film's score was composed and performed by Goblin. It stars Macha Meril as a medium and David Hemmings as a man who investigates a series of murders performed by a mysterious figure wielding a hatchet.
Although the film was not a financial success internationally, it met with critical acclaim.
The movie starts off with two shadowy figures struggling until one of them is stabbed to death while we hear a child's scream.
The film follows music teacher Marcus Daly (Hemmings) as he investigates the violent murder of psychic medium Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril), which he witnesses in an apartment building. Before the murder, Ulmann had a lecture in a theatre where she suddenly sensed that there was someone with a twisted and violent mind in the audience and she seems to know who it is but it was too late before she could tell anyone. Other major characters are introduced early, including Daly's friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia), Carlo's mother Martha (Clara Calamai), Ulmann's associate Dr. Giordani (Glauco Mauri) and reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi).
After his attempt to rescue the medium fails, Daly realizes he has seen a certain painting among a group of portraits on the wall of the victim's apartment, but it seems to have disappeared when the police arrive. The killing of Helga Ulmann is prefaced by a child's doggerel tune, the same music that accompanies the film's opening sequence. The music serves as the murderer's calling card. When Daly hears it in his own apartment soon after becoming involved in the case he is able to foil his attacker. Later, he plays the tune to Giordani, a psychiatrist, who theorizes that the music is important because it probably played an integral part in a traumatic event in the killer's past. He also tells him about a folktale involving a haunted house in which a singing child is heard, followed by the shrieking of someone being murdered.
In investigating the source of the music tune and the folktale, the search leads Marcus to a novel which was written by a writer Amanda Righetti (Giuliana Calandra), titled 'House of the Screaming Child' which describes a long-ago murder. In attempting to find Amanda Righetti to talk to her about her book, the unseen killer arrives at Righetti's villa first and murders her by drowning her in a bathtub filled with scalding hot water, blistering her face in the process. The dying Righetti manages to write a message on the wall of the steam-filled bathroom before expiring. Marcus finds the body, but aware that the police will think he did it, he leaves the area without calling anyone. After some thorough investigation, Marcus locates the house where the folktale was involved with the picture of it and learns from the caretaker who claims that no one have lived in the house before 1963 when the previous owner was killed. Marcus looks around and discovers a children's drawing on a wall long plastered over of a little boy holding a bloody knife next to a murdered man.
Meanwhile, Giordani investigates the Righetti murder scene after the police collect the body and leave, and on a hunch, turns on the hot water in the bathroom and sees part of the message left on the wall by the murder victim. When Giordani returns to his office that night to investigate more, the unseen killer breaks in and stabs him in the neck with his own knife after bashing his teeth in on a piece of furniture. Marcus also discovers the clue that he overlooked in the photo of the deserted house: a window on one of the walls is missing. Marcus returns to the house after dark and after unsuccessfully trying to bash in the wall where the window was, which leads to him nearly falling off the scaffolding, he enters the house and using a pickaxe, bashes down an end-wall in a hallway and discovers the secret room with a rotting skeleton next to a Christmas tree. Daly's discovery of the corpse is one of the film's most dramatic moments. Then, the unseen killer arrives and knocks Marcus out. When he regains consciousness, he finds the house on fire, and Gianna by his side who arrived in the nick of time to pull him out of the house.
Marcus and Gianna go to the villa caretaker's house to call the police and fire department when Marcus discovers that the caretaker's young daughter, Olga, had drawn an identical drawing of the little boy with a bloody knife standing next to a Christmas tree with the murder victim. Olga tells them that she found the drawing and copied it from old file archives at her junior high school. Marcus and Gianna break into the school to search the archives for the drawing, when Gianna is stabbed by the killer and Marcus finds the painting, with the name on it which is Carlo, who appears before Marcus holding a gun and threatening to kill him for getting too close. Just then, the police arrive and Carlo flees, but in a twist of fate, he gets sideswiped by a passing garbage truck which he gets hooked onto the fender and gets dragged down the street to his gruesome death.
With the case apparently wrapped up with Carlo being the killer, Marcus drops off the severely wounded Gianna at the hospital, but in going back to the scene of the crime, tries to remember what he thought he saw. Carlo could not have murdered Helga Ulmann because he was with Marcus on the street when they saw the killer killing Ulmann. Marcus enters the murder victim's apartment and, after looking around, finally remembers what he saw in a mirror reflection which he thought was a portrait that night: the face of the killer. When he turned back, the killer appears in front of him as the identity of the killer is finally revealed as Carlo's insane mother Martha. When Carlo was still a child, he watched as she stabbed her husband when he tried to have her committed to a psychiatric hospital and Carlo, traumatized, picks up the bloody knife. Then, they entomb his body in a room of their house.
In the climax, Martha confronts Marcus and tries to kill him. Wielding a meat cleaver, Martha chases him around the complex and into a room with an elevator. Marcus is struck in the shoulder by the meat cleaver, but kicks Martha toward the elevator shaft. A long necklace she wears around her neck catches in the bars of the shaft, and she is decapitated when Daly summons the lift. The film ends with Daly staring into the resultant pool of blood.
- David Hemmings as Marcus Daly
- Daria Nicolodi as Gianna Brezzi
- Macha Méril as Helga Ulmann
- Clara Calamai as Martha
- Gabriele Lavia as Carlo
- Eros Pagni as Supt. Calcabrini
- Giuliana Calandra as Amanda Righetti
- Piero Mazzinghi as Bardi
- Glauco Mauri as Prof. Giordani
- Aldo Bonamano as Carlo's father
- Liana Del Balzo as Elvira
- Vittorio Fanfoni as Cop taking notes
- Dante Fioretti as Police photographer
- Geraldine Hooper as Massimo Ricci
- Jacopo Mariani as Young Carlo (as Iacopo Mariani)
- Nicoletta Elmi as Olga
Deep Red was shot mainly on location in Turin, Italy, a "magical" city according to Argento, in sixteen weeks. The main reason why he chose Turin was because at the time there were more practicing Satanists in Turin than in any other European city, excluding Lyon.
The film's special effects, which include several mechanically-operated heads and body parts, were made and executed by Carlo Rambaldi, best known for creating the extraterrestrial protagonist of Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, for which he won an Academy Award in 1983.
Co-writer Bernardino Zapponi said the inspiration for the murder scenes came from Argento and himself thinking of painful injuries to which the audience could relate. Basically, not everyone knows the pain of being shot by a gun, but almost everyone has at some point accidentally struck furniture or been scalded by hot water. The closeup shots of the killer's hands, clad in black leather gloves, were performed by director Dario Argento himself.
The A.V. Club wrote, "Operating under the principle that a moving camera is always better than a static one, and not above throwing in a terrifying evil doll, Deep Red showcases the technical bravado and loopy shock tactics that made Argento famous." AllMovie called it "the master work in Italian horror maestro Dario Argento's canon".
Multiple versions of the film exist on DVD and VHS, in large part due to the fact that Argento removed twenty-six minutes (largely scenes between Nicolodi and Hemmings) from the film, footage that was never dubbed in English. For years, it was assumed that the film's American distributors were responsible for removing said scenes, but the recent Blu-ray release confirmed that Argento oversaw and approved the edits to the film.
In 1999, Anchor Bay acquired the rights to release the film uncut, on both DVD and VHS. Their version restored the missing footage, but kept the American end credit scene (a freeze frame shot of Hemmings looking down upon a pool of blood). As there was no dubbed versions of the missing scenes, the scenes (and additional dialogue omitted in the dubbed version) were featured in their original Italian language. The DVD offered both English and Italian audio tracks as well.
Blue Underground obtained the rights to the film in 2008 and released it as a standard DVD. Their Blu-ray release, released in 2011, contains the US version of the film (which is referred to as "The Director's Cut") and the original edit (referred as "Uncut", and contains option to watch it in either language).
Argento originally contacted jazz pianist and composer Giorgio Gaslini to score the film. However, he was unhappy with Gaslini's output, deeming it "awful". Gaslini, frustrated by Argento's dictatorially insistent requests, effectively walked out of the film when Argento interrupted a recording session because the music sounded too chaotic to him. After failing to get Pink Floyd to replace Gaslini, Argento turned back to Italy and found Goblin, a talented local progressive rock band. Their leader, Claudio Simonetti, produced two compositions within just one night. Argento, impressed, signed them immediately, and they ended up composing most of the film's musical score (three Gaslini compositions were retained in the final version). Subsequently, Goblin composed music for several other films by Dario Argento.
- The original Italian version is 126 minutes long. Most US versions remove 22 minutes worth of footage, including most graphic violence, all humorous scenes, almost all of the romantic scenes between David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi and part of the subplot regarding the house of the screaming child.
- The US video release by Anchor Bay Entertainment is mostly restored, reinstating gore shots and scenes with dialogue that were cut from the initial US release. It was likely that these scenes were cut before the English dub was prepared, and so they now only exist with an Italian dub (English subtitles are provided for these scenes). However, in the original theatrical version, the end credits are displayed over a shot of Marcus's reflection in a pool of blood. The image is moving (blood drips into the pool, Hemming's face changes expression etc.) while the credits are displayed. Anchor Bay's release features the credits over a freeze-frame of the original shot. Other than this change, the Anchor Bay VHS/DVD is the full uncut version of the film.
- The later DVD release from Blue Underground is the exact version mentioned above. Also, Blue Underground released an "Uncensored English Version" on DVD on 17 May 2011. This cut of the film runs no more than 105 minutes, with the gore from the original Italian version intact but the other cuts from the edited English version again excised.
- Unusually the film had no UK theatrical release, and the 1993 Redemption video was cut by 11 seconds to remove a brief scene of two dogs fighting and shots of a live lizard impaled with a pin. The 2005 Platinum DVD issue was pre-cut (to exclude the shot of the lizard) and restored the dog sequence, as it was evident that they were playing rather than fighting. It was finally passed uncut for the 2010 Arrow DVD release.
- The full-length Italian version (with English subtitles and one small cut by UK censors) is available on video in the UK in pan and scan format from Redemption Films. The only known widescreen print of this version can be found in Australia on both SBS TV and its pay-TV channel World Movies, completely uncut. Note that the widescreen laserdisc release is in English language and was cut by director Argento himself by about 12 minutes.
- Some releases of the film incorporate a still from the film, revealing the murderer.
In 2010 George A. Romero was contacted by Claudio Argento to direct a 3D remake of Deep Red which Claudio said would also involve Dario. Romero showed some interest in the film; however, after contacting Dario, who said he knew nothing about the remake, Romero declined Claudio's offer. It is unknown if Claudio will look elsewhere for a director or still has plans to remake his brother's film.
- Deep Red (Danish 2008 2-disc DVD).
- "Deep Red (Profondo rosso) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Phipps, Keith (29 March 2002). "Deep Red | DVD | HomeVideo Review | The A.V. Club". avclub.com. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Legare, Patrick. "Deep Red (1975) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- "DEEP RED (Uncensored English Version) by Blue Underground, directed by Dario Argento (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Suspiria, Opera)". blue-underground.com. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "George A. Romero Offers More Living Dead Updates, Comments on Deep Red Remake". Horror Movie, DVD, & Book Reviews, News, Interviews at Dread Central. dreadcentral.com. 23 August 2010. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- Deep Red at the Internet Movie Database
- Deep Red at AllMovie
- Deep Red is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more] (Note that this version is the 98 minute [101 minutes with credits] edited U.S. theatrical version, also known as The Hatchet Murders. It does, however, contain the original ending credits shot that has been freeze-framed on the Anchor Bay Entertainment and Blue Underground releases.)
- MP3 commentary by dvdtalk.co.uk critic Michael Mackenzie