Translated as Deep Red, Profondo Rosso sees famed Italian director Dario Argento join the list of required viewing for the 101 Horror Movies.
Before getting into the film itself, let me just say, I loved the score by Giorgio Gaslini and the group Goblin.
It’s been a long time since I watched an Argento movie, long enough for me to feel as if I was coming to the director fresh, and, I liked what I saw.
The story follows Marcus Daly (played by David Hemmings) an English pianist living and working in Rome.
One evening, on his way home after a chat with his friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia), he witnesses the murder of Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril) through her apartment window, and I mean, THROUGH her apartment window.
Helga, in the opening of the film had been giving a lecture about parapsychology, specifically her own psychic talent, which when demonstrated, reveals a dark secret of one of the people in the audience. Dark enough to necessitate her being murdered to keep her quiet.
Rushing into her apartment to see if he can help her, he runs down a corridor of very ghoulish and disturbing pictures, only to arrive too late. When revisiting the corridor later during the police investigation, he’s struck by the thought that there’s a painting missing, something he saw before is no longer there.
It is this thought that drives him to puzzle over the mystery, and also puts him right smack dab on the murderer’s list.
He’s joined by a reporter, Gianna (Daria Nicolodi) and their scenes tend to be fun and playful, as well as having misadventures with her car, which seems to be falling apart, and happily lightens the mood before plunging us back into the dark, and bloody mystery surrounding the murder of Helga.
Bodies begin to pile up around Marcus as he digs deeper, with the aid of Gianna and the police.
The film is bloody, well-paced, wonderfully edited, and has some creative camerawork, and makes great use of practical effects.
I only had one moment that really unnerved me, and that featured Professor Giordani (Glauco Mauri), one of Helga’s associates from her discussion at the beginning of the film. Giordani is at home, when he and we, become aware that there is someone else in the house with him.
As we watch an open door, knowing, fearing that something is going to come rushing out of it at him, and us, another door to the right of it bursts open, and out runs this mechanical doll…
WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!!?!?!? With its mechanical legs moving it across the floor in a most disturbing way, this thing rushes at Giordani, and as he fends it off with a knife, he is suitably distracted and attacked himself!
That doll is just creepy!!
As Marcus slowly pieces together the clues that lead him to the murderer he investigates a tumbledown mansion, and a deserted school… Both of which are fantastic locations and sets.
The backdrop of Rome makes this a gorgeous film to watch, and Argento makes full use of it, showing stunning architecture, statues, buildings all while catapulting us to the ending… as Marcus finds out the truth.
I know Suspiria is coming up on the list, but what other Argento films would you recommend? I quite enjoyed this one, and loved the balance he walked in making this film really entertaining, the humor, the horror, the mystery, and of course… the creepy doll!!!