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Deep Red (Arrow Video) UHD Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Deep Red (Arrow Video) UHD Review



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: October 26th, 2021.
    Director: Dario Argento
    Cast: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Macha Meri, Gabriele Lavia, Glauco Mauri
    Year: 1975
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    Deep Red - The Movie:

    Directed by Dario Argento in 1975, Deep Red was the director's fifth feature and remains one of his most popular films. The story begins at a 'parapsychology' conference in Rome, Italy where a psychic named Helga Ulman (Macha Meri) detects that someone in the audience is intending to commit murder. When Helga goes home for the night, she's attacked by an unseen assailant with a hatchet, her screams coming to the attention of a pianist named Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) who lives in the same apartment building and happens to be walking home with his friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia) as the murder is occurring. He runs to her apartment hoping to stop the murder before it's too late, but he doesn't make it in time.

    The cops show up and talk to Marcus, as does a reporter named Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi). After a talk they go their separate ways but meet again at Helga's funeral where they decide to talk to Giordani (Glauco Mauri), an associate of Helga's who was at the conference where she psychically figured out who the killer was - he didn't get a good look at the person she was accusing, however. When Marcus starts to remember a painting that stood out to him the night of the murder, he starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together in his head and with some help from Gianna, he sets out to figure out who really killed Helga and why, but the closer he gets to uncovering the truth the more the people around him seem to be dropping dead.

    Directed with loads of style and featuring all the amazing cinematography and color combinations that Argento's early work is known for, Deep Red is a well-executed exercise in suspense that still holds up well today. The movie always looks fantastic and it is obvious that Argento put a lot of careful planning into nailing a lot of details in terms of the visual side of the storytelling employed here. His fascination with architecture, common in his movies, shows up a lot as does his penchant for filming grisly murder scenes. Here the murder set pieces are shot with a very flamboyant style, ensuring that the audience can't turn away even if they want to. Taking more than a few pages out of Hitchcock's playbook, the script (which Argento co-wrote with Bernardino Zapponi) does a good job of keeping us guessing who the killer is right up until the reveal. There are some clever red herrings used throughout the film to keep you guessing and the film, with its intense opening murder scene, really hits the ground running in that regard. Argento sets things up so early in the film that we're instantly hooked.

    As far as the performances go, Hemmings and Nicolodi fare quite well here, showing good chemistry on screen and handling the odd dramatic and comedic interludes as well as the more serious and tension ridden scenes. Hemmings has a natural charisma, such likeability to him in this role (and many others) that you can't help but hope he'll figure it all out before the hatchet is turned on him. He has more to do here than Nicolodi does, but she too is fine in the part. Throw in a great score by Goblin, one of the many collaborations they'd enter into with the director, and you can see how all the stars align for this one.

    Arrow Video's Blu-ray release contains both the uncut Italian version of the film and the shorter US release of the film (trimmed of about twenty minutes) on their own separate discs. While most seem to prefer the longer version of the film, it's nice to have both cuts and there is something to be said for the tighter pacing of the shorter version of the movie (which was released in some territories under the alternate title of The Hatchet Murders). Most of what has been taken out of the shorter version amounts to characterization bits and snippets of dialogue, the plot and storyline remain more or less the same though this does tend to eliminate most of the more romantic aspects between Hemmings' and Nicolodi's respective characters.

    Deep Red- UDH Review:

    Each version of Deep Red is presented in an HEVC encoded 2160p high definition transfer with HDR framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and taken from a “new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative” each on their own separate 100GB disc. Picture quality here is excellent. You'll notice a substantial improvement in color reproduction, with the colors here looking noticeably more vibrant and lifelike without looking boosted at all. Black levels are deep and strong and the impressive resolution provides significantly more visible detail than the already very nice looking Blu-ray release that Arrow put out a few years ago. Skin tones look very natural and neither transfer shows any obvious noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression problems.

    For the director's cut, Italian language tracks are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and DTS-HD Mono options with optional English subtitles that translate this specific track. Also offered is an English DTS-HD track, with optional English closed captioning for this specific track. The Italian 5.1 track is really strong, offering excellent channel separation and a very enveloping listening experience, particularly when it comes to score and effects placement. Purists will understandably opt for one of the single channel options, and they too sound quite good offering properly balanced levels. There are no hiss or distortion related issues with any of the mixes, and there's good depth throughout. And English DTS-HD Mono track is provided for the shorter US/export cut of the film. The audio here seems to duplicate the Blu-ray release from a few years ago.

    Note that the “English audio track on the original, longer cut has some portions of English audio missing. English audio for these sections was either never recorded or has been lost. As such, these sequences are presented with Italian audio, subtitled in English.”

    Extras on the first disc start off with a new audio commentary from Troy Howarth and Nathanial Thompson. This is a very inspired talk, both men clearly massive fans of the film. They cover a lot of ground, going over the backgrounds of the people who worked on it but also offer up a lot of their own thoughts on what makes the movie work as well as it does, the different versions, the score, the acting and lots more. It's quite an engaging discussion.

    Carried over from the past release is an audio commentary by filmmaker and Argento expert Thomas Rostock. This is a well-researched and detailed track that covers all the ground you'd want it to - the locations, the camerawork, the casting, the performances, Argento's direction and of course, the soundtrack and plenty more.

    The first of the new featurettes on this release (all of which were shot by Arrow in 2018) is Deep Into The Red, an interview with Dario Argento and an archival interview with Dario Nicoladi. Here, over fifty-eight minutes, we learn where the idea Deep Red came from, how the storyline changed as the making of the film progressed, the different collaborators who worked on the picture and what they brought to it, some of the locations that were used, the influence of paintings on the film, how Nicolodi's character may have reflected Argento's past, constructing some of the murder set pieces, working with Hemmings, using Goblin to score the picture and the film's legacy.

    The Medium Wore Black interviews actress Macha Meril for twenty-one minutes. This piece goes over how she was living in Italy at the time the film was made, how she wound up appearing in the film, her thoughts on Italian cinema of the day, being able to speak and act with her own voice in the film, what it was like working with Argento and Nicolodi, the influence of the French New Wave movement, the importance of the film to her career and how she feels about the movie.

    Production manager Angela Iacono is up next in 16 Years In Red, a forty-seven minute piece that goes into a lot of detail about where his career was at when he wound up meeting and working with Argento, helping to come up with the film's title, the film's significance in giallo cinema, what went into securing the different locations used for the shoot, his thoughts on and memories of working with the different cast members and more.

    Death Dies interviews Claudio Simonetti for fifteen minutes and covers how he learned to play the piano and became a musician, how he got into scoring film, the early days of Goblin, meeting Argento and working with him on this and a few other films, his solo projects and his thoughts on the film.

    In the Carlo Never Dies actor Gabriele Lavia spends sixteen minutes in front of the camera going over how he was contacted to appear in the film while he was working on a costume period drama, filming in Turin, how he got along with the director and his co-stars, filming his death scene, working with Argento again on Sleepless and wanting to make a Deep Red 2 (Argento didn't agree!).

    I Am The Screaming Child interviews actors Jacop Mariani for eight minutes about his part in the film. He talks about growing up in a family of artists and starting his career young in 1974, how he first met Argento before making Deep Red, auditioning for the part, working with Argento and Nicolodi and what he learned from them, the specifics of shooting the scene with the bloody knife, his surprise with how popular the film became and remains, working on Suspiria and why he got out of acting all together.

    The last of the new featurettes is Bloodstained, an interview with actor Lino Capolicchio that clocks in at five minutes. This piece covers how he got to first meet Argento, how they've remained friends over the years, having to decide if he wanted to be in the film quickly due to the production schedule and problems that arose with a car during the making of the movie resulting in his copy of the script getting covered in blood!

    Finishing up disc one are the original Italian trailer, an optional intro to the movie from Claudio Simonetti, the Arrow Video 2018 trailer, a few still galleries, menus and chapter selection options.

    Additionally, the first disc includes the film's original Italian theatrical trailer and a quick one-minute optional introduction to the main feature from Goblin's Claudio Simonetti.

    Disc two includes Profondo Giallo, a visual essay by Michael MacKenzie that runs just under thirty-three minutes in length. Here MacKenzie offers his thoughts on what makes Deep Red as effective a film as it is, why it remains a very popular entry in Argento's filmography, and how Argento had such a huge influence on the giallo cycle. He also notes what makes Deep Red different from the earlier giallos he'd made, what makes the opening credits sequence in the picture so striking, the importance of the locations and how they are shot in the film, the film's avant garde qualities and of course, the soundtrack.

    Up next is Rosso Recollections: Dario Argento's Deep Genius, a fourteen-minute piece wherein Argento himself speaks about how and why Deep Red came to be, the ideas that turned into the film, the writing and directing process, casting the film and some of his influences. In The Lady in Red: Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profondo Rosso we spend twenty-one-minutes with the picture's leading lady and one time Argento muse where she speaks about her relationship with the director, their work together and the part that she played in bringing Deep Red and some of his other better known pictures to life. In the sixteen-minute Music To Murder For!, Goblin's Claudio Simonetti speaks about how he and the other members of the band scored Deep Red, what they were going for with the soundtrack work and what the band were going for with this particular score. Also worth checking out is Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid To Shop which is a fifteen-minute tour of the Profondo Rosso shop in Rome hosted by Luigi Cozzi.

    Finishing up disc two is the US theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection options.

    As only test discs have been made available for this review, we can't comment on the packaging or any physical inserts/extras included with this release. If proper, finished product is made available, we'll update this piece accordingly.

    Deep Red - The Final Word:

    Arrow Video's two-disc special edition UHD release of Dario Argento's seminal Deep Red is a fantastic package. It presents the picture in gorgeous shape with a nicely improved 4k transfer and with excellent audio. The set also includes an impressive supplemental package, carrying everything over form the past Blu-ray edition and adding quite a bit more to this upgrade. The movie itself remains a classic, one of the finest giallo films ever made!

    Click on the images below for full sized Deep Red Blu-ray screen caps that don't look as good as the UHD reviewed above (but reviews without screen caps are boring)!










































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