Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Horrors of October 2014 - Deep Red (#1)

It's that time once again to immerse myself in the macabre. Since I had such a fun time last year watching and reviewing a horror movie every day of October, I decided to ok a sequel. As stated previously, I'll be checking out horror films on a random basis. No set structure or chronological timeline, just whatever I was in the mood for the day. I'll be tackling everything from the bonafide classics, to the controversial and extreme, to the absolute worst ever crafted, to my personal treasures, to the standard slashers, to the 2013 movies I forget to check out in theaters, etc. As I'm doing this, I'll also be posting reviews of 2014 horror movies, so make sure to check those out as well.

Now, let me kick off this iteration with one of my favorites.

Deep Red (1975)

a.k.a. PROFONDO ROSSO and THE HATCHET MURDERS. At a special presentation of psychics and mediums, a woman mentally notices that one of the audience members has a history of violence. Later that night, she is killed in her hotel room by said serial killer, with the only witness being a British piano teacher (David Hemming). Confounded by his memories of the murder and thrilled by the mystery, he embarks on solving the crime, all the while trying to avoid the swing of a hatchet. DEEP RED starts itself with one of the most chilling, random opening credits: Text of the title and the main actors, fade in to a surreal, unnerving murder happening off-screen, fade out, production credits. Barely a minute into the picture and already you're spooked. Director Dario Argento continues the terror with many flourish displays of camerawork, swooping the device through the scenes as an invisible force of dread. His particular favorite technique is to mess with the concept of POV; he often loves to plant the camera down for a long shot, only to then dolly away and reveal that the environment is not safe. Argento also loves to show off his striking sets, whether it is the barren center square with the nod to Hopper's "Nighthawks" or the desolate villa that provides crucial information. But what makes this movie a true horror masterpiece is of course the scares. It offers many unsettling sights that will leave deep imprints in your nightmares, further helped by the expert on-the-dime editing and the tantalizing score by Goblin. And just when you think the case is closed after a particularly redemptive showstopper, the film ends with a major twist that will have you running to the rewind button. The acting is overall enjoyable, particularly with Daria Nicolodi as an intrepid, female-empowered crime reporter. I highly recommend this top-tier giallo. Also, if you can find it, I recommend checking out the uncut Italian version first, since it provides some extra scenes of characterization and dropped subplots.


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