Deeply Double Dippy… PROFONDO ROSSO Reviewed

Deep Rehab

They tried to make her go to Rehab, she said No! No! No!

Region B Blu-ray / CD. Arrow. 18

Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso (“Deep Red”, 1975) is generally regarded as the greatest “giallo” ever made, the film that took the Italian Whodunnit genre to its toppermost peak of perfection. I’m sure there are giallo buffs out there who would dissent from this consensus and offer their own candidates for the crown: miscellaneous efforts from Bava (who, after all, founded the genre), Fulci and Martino all have their champions, and rightly so; Paolo Cavara’s Black Belly Of The Tarantula (1971), to cite just one title off the top of my head, is as compelling a thriller as you’ll see anywhere; and I recall that Mark Ashworth was always particularly taken with Giuliano Carnimeo’s Why These Strange Drops Of Blood On The Body Of Jennifer (1972.) You can’t legislate for personal taste… and why would you want to? Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that Deep Red is indeed the greatest giallo ever made (because it probably is.)

What’s more interesting at this remove is the whole question of getting fans to dip into their pockets a second, third or umpteenth time for the same canonical title. If you’ve lived and been following the genre long enough, you’ve probably owned Deep Red successively on bootleg tapes, various progressively more complete official VHS releases and DVDs… I’ve still got the Japanese laser disc, though my LD Player went on eBay years ago. Arrow had a crack at Deep Red on Blu-ray in the early days of the format, though the results were discouraging. Since they turned things around with James White’s masterly rendering of Zombie Flesh Eaters, Arrow have been serious players in the BD arena. But what you’ll be wanting to know is, is it worth your while forking out for their 4K Deep Red? Don’t be so forking impatient, I’m getting there…

dario directs decapitationDeepRed1975_95.jpg

Their new limited edition box set (which I’m glad I pre-ordered at a reasonable price, given the rate at which it sold out) comprises two BD discs, one each for the 127 minute director’s cut and hour-and-three-quarterish export version (each a brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative) and a CD of The Goblins’ celebrated score, claimed here as “complete” though its 28 tracks come up short of the 34 contained on the Profondo Rosso disc of the recent Bella Casa Goblins box set, The Awakening. The longer version of the film comes with an optional short introduction from Goblin-in-chief Claudio Simonetti, plus a choice of  Italian 5.1 soundtrack with subtitles or English mono (a bit of a no-brainer if you’ve invested in a surround sound set up.) The disc of the director’s cut also comes with a raft of bonus material, most of which you might well have heard (Thomas Rostock’s commentary track from AWE’s DVD release) or seen before, including a quartet of tasty High Rising featurettes:  Rosso Recollections: Argento’s Deep Genius; Music To Murder For: Claudio Simonetti On Deep Red; Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid To Shop (Naomi Holwill directs as Lugi Cozzi gives us a tour of the shop in Rome); and The Lady In Red: Daria Nicolodi Remembers Deep Red.


There’s one brand new featurette, Profondo Giallo, a visual essay, no less in which Michael Mackenzie talks over a bunch of clips and illustrative material, expanding on the familiar themes of sexual politics (as played out between Nicolodi and David Hemmings, the decimation of which in the export version make for an inferior viewing experience,  despite the fondness with which I recall my  introduction to the film via its Techno Film / Fletcher Video release) and supposed style over substance. It’s not a bad little visual essay, as these things go and if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend half of it thinking “Yes, that’s a good point” and half of it shouting “No, you’re talking bollocks, mate!” at the screen. If you ARE me, you’ll also be brooding about the fact that I compared the violent set pieces in Argento’s films to the production numbers in Hollywood musicals long before any of the people he cites as doing so. Still, it’s not worth going on a hatchet rampage over academic priorities…

What else do you get? A reversible sleeve including original US artwork and a new, rather nifty montage from Gilles Vranckx (which also fronts the box very handsomely), six post card-sized lobby card and fotobusta reproductions, a double sided fold out reproduction of American and Italian posters and a booklet featuring Alan Jones stuff that you’ll already be familiar with and a new piece from Mikel J. Koven (author of the very readable La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema And The Italian Giallo Film) plus the expected illustrations and restoration notes.


A pretty enough package but, given the familiarity of much of its bonus material, the desirability of this set boils down to its visual and aural elements… and they are pretty stunning. Grain is contained without DNR assaulting the eye and rather than the intensely… er, deep reds you might have been expecting, this restoration finally reveals, in all its subtlety, DP Luigi Kuveiller’s suffusion of pinks, purples and mauves… check out the scenes in which Hemmings explores and excavates The House Of The Screaming Child. There’s nothing much going on (the pacing of these sequences remaining the only obvious blot on the escutcheon of this “perfect giallo”) but it’s going on in a beautiful phantasmagoria of Art Nouveau design, before Argento threw himself into the full-on Art Deco insanity of Suspiria… and in anticipation of that, outbreaks of glorious Goblin prog in 5.1 ensure that the aural treats consistently match the feast being laid out before your eyes.

If you acquired one of these before the prices started getting silly, nice work. If not you probably won’t have to wait too long for a single disc Arrow edition of the director’s cut with the High Rising and Michael Mackenzie extras.

I wonder what they’ll come up with in a few years to make me want to buy it all over again…

DR Behind Scenes

Categories: Blu-ray / DVD Reviews, CD Reviews | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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