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Deep Red

By Sean Axmaker

Considered by many to be Dario Argento's first masterpiece, Deep Red recalls his first hit, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. British star David Hemmings (Blow-Up) plays an American jazz pianist who witnesses a brutal, bloody murder from afar and turns detective to find the killer. Kooky Italian journalist Daria Nicolodi (Argento's wife and cowriter on Suspiria) joins him as comic relief and tepid romantic interest, but the real costar is Argento's high style: gliding camera, razor-sharp editing, and gorgeous but gruesome set pieces. The story is convoluted, to say the least--plotting was never Argento's strong suit and the unnecessary exposition often drags the film down--but his vivid, horrific imagery is perfect for a thriller driven by haunting memories. Deep Red was originally released in the U.S. in a severely cut version retitled The Hatchet Murders (odd since the killer uses a butcher's knife). Producer Bill Lustig has restored the film to its original two-hour-plus running time, though some scenes exist only with Italian-language soundtracks (which are subtitled). It's a bit jarring at first (it makes for an unintended joke when a man suddenly checks his hearing aid after a language switch), but it's the only way to see Argento's original cut. There's also a brief 25th anniversary documentary with Argento and cowriter Bernardino Zapponi, and the DVD offers a choice of English and Italian language versions.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Dario Argento

Stars: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Macha Meril

Released: June 11, 1976

Availability: DVD VHS


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