Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) (1975)

Flesh ripped clean to the bone... And the blood runs red...
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Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) - Flesh Ripped clean to the Bone... And the Blood runs Red...

Profondo Russo AKA Deep Red (also known as The Hatchet Murders) is considered among horror fans to be one of Dario Argento's greatest movies, along with Suspiria and Trauma. Typically Argento, with his artistic style of directing using unusual camera angles, lighting and the musical score to maximum effect, the movie is a giallo thriller coming off a bit like a feature length episode of Columbo with a generous splattering of gore and a hint of the supernatural.

The opening scene of Deep Red shows a struggle between two shadowy figures accompanied by some haunting music, the struggle ends with somebody being stabbed to death and what seems to be a child retrieving the murder weapon.

It then jumps to an audience with Helga Ulmann, a psychic demonstrating her abilities to "sense" things, but there is an evil in the audience which she soon picks up, she senses death, murder and the like and before long she is panicking on stage. The individual giving off the bad vibes makes a sharp exit, unnoticed amongst the commotion and Helga returns to her room to recover from her ordeal. Unfortunately for her the ordeal has only just begun as the elusive murderer wants to keep her quiet. Marcus Daly, a music teacher witnesses a struggle in her apartment as he walks away from a bar having just spent some quality time with his drunken friend Carlo. He rushes to the aid of the luckless psychic as she has her throat slit on the glass from the window through which her head has just been pushed. Daly is to late to save her life but is just in time to witness a mysterious dark robed figure fleeing the scene in the street below. The murder is accompanied by the same haunting tune from the opening scene.

The murder plays on the mind of Daly as he is convinced that he saw a vital clue in the apartment before the police arrived but he cannot remember what he saw. He has a feeling that there is a picture missing from the wall of the hallway but he cannot remember what or who it was of. He becomes obsessed with remembering what it was that he missed and reluctantly accepts the help of Gianna Brezzi, a reporter covering the murder, to try and solve the mystery.

The investigation leads to a string of brutal murders and eventually a decrepit, boarded up house. Marcus investigates the house alone whilst he is waiting for Gianna to turn up, and find a walled up room containing a corpse. Marcus is obviously not the only person on the scene as the next thing he remembers is waking up outside with Gianna as the house burns down, the reporter arrived on the scene just in time to rescue him as the house burns down around him.

Eventually Marcus confronts the killer, who ends up having a bizarre accident involving a hook, a chain and a couple of heavy vehicles and then (in a similar way to Trauma) it turns out not to be the real killer, but now Daly knows too much and the real killer decides to confront him to put an end to his meddling ways. The mystery of the opening scene is revealed and the reason for the killers theme tune is too, there's the shock of uncovering the real killers identity, a bit of a scuffle, a decapitation and they all live happily ever after.

One of the appeals of Dario Argento movies is the many subtleties of the story, many scenes seem to be pointless filler but can be interpreted as an indication of something to come in the movie, some of which are often not noticed in the first watching. A great deal of thought goes into Argento's masterpieces with each portion being meticulously thought out with an array of spectacular scenery and music to accompany it making the movies artistic and pleasing to the senses. These subtleties are prevalent in the death scenes as the cumulation of these elements building up to the murder engross the viewer ensuring that the feeling of tension is at it's peak when the brutally violent, drawn out and gory death occurs. Argento is renowned in the world of Italian Horror movies for his creative death scenes, twisty little endings and his ability to mess with the emotions of the viewer, Profondo Rosso delivers all three and, although overlooked when released in 1975, it has managed to reach cult status among horror fans.
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Categories: Italian Horror Movies
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