Deep Red: Limited Edition (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Oct 22, 2021
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Deep Red: Limited Edition (4K UHD Review)

Director

Dario Argento

Release Date(s)

1975 (October 26, 2021)

Studio(s)

Rizzoli Film/Seda Spettacoli/Howard Mahler Films (Arrow Video)
  • Film/Program Grade: A
  • Video Grade: A+
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: A-

Deep Red (4K Ultra HD Disc)

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Review

Many consider Dario Argento's Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso or The Hatchet Murders) to be the final word on giallo films. It was definitely a return of sorts for Argento, who had briefly walked away from the genre to focus on other types of projects. He had arrived on the scene with three entries in what became known as his Animal Trilogy (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O’Nine Tails, and Four Flies on Grey Velvet), but Deep Red is where his artistry truly came to full fruition, creating a film that's one of his most popular, but also one of his most respected.

The fairly standard tale of American jazz pianist Marcus Daly (David Hemmings), who works in Rome and witnesses the murder of his neighbor which propels him to investigate who was behind it, borrows similar ideas from The Bird with Crystal Plumage. The most apparent correlation is the catalyst for the story, meaning that he knows that he either saw something or can't quite understand what he saw the night of the murder. This detail ultimately winds up being the vital key to the puzzle in discovering the killer's identity, which isn't resolved until the final minutes. Also hot on the trail is local photojournalist Gianna (Daria Nicolodi). Marcus' comic foil, as well as the eventual object of his affections, she ultimately serves a larger purpose.

Gender politics between these two characters and how it relates to the plot are explored more fully in the original Italian version of the film. The Export version truncates much of this material in favor of a leaner, meaner storyline without any excess character beats or overarching themes. At times, the extra material often slows the pace of the film down. The thrust of Marcus' investigation is ostensibly stopped dead in its tracks at multiple points to allow for its inclusion. On the other hand, it also plays into the film's thematics and is much more appropriate overall. Regardless, Deep Red is still an effective film, specifically due to Argento's use of horrific, yet beautiful, death imagery, which announced his arrival as one of Italy’s greatest and most innovative contemporary filmmakers upon the film’s theatrical release.

Deep Red was photographed by Luigi Kuveiller on 35 mm 2-perf Techniscope film, and finished on film at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Arrow Video’s 4K Ultra HD release includes both the original Italian version (previously labeled as the Director’s Cut) and the Export version, with a difference in running times of about 27 minutes. For this release, a 4K scan and restoration of the original camera negative was performed. The negative had been physically altered in 1975 to make the Export version, but has now been reassembled by Arrow’s restoration team. A 4K scan of a 35 mm print of The Hatchet Murders version of the film was sourced for the Export version’s opening titles. Both presentations have also been graded for High Dynamic Range (Dolby Vision and HDR10 options are available).

Arrow’s previous Blu-ray editions (of both versions) were stunning in their own right, but the company has now gone a few steps further to create what are likely to be definitive home video presentations for years to come. Detail has been increased and the images are crisper, with improved textures. Grain is also tighter with near perfect encoding. The previous Blu-ray framing was also slightly more narrow, but now with proper exposure along the edges, this presentation adheres closer to the intended aspect ratio. One of the biggest draws of any of Argento film’s visuals are the color palettes, and Deep Red in 4K doesn’t disappoint. The new HDR pass expertly enhances and widens the color gamut, deepening blacks, improving contrast, and bringing much more depth out of the colors. Reds have been adjusted since Arrow’s last Blu-ray release, appearing in a bolder shade of crimson. Whites no longer appear hot, flesh tones are more naturally pink, and blues and greens have an organic look. Everything is stable and mostly clean, outside of minor flaws in the opticals and flashback footage during the opening of the film, none of which detract from the overall visual experience. It’s a dynamic presentation.

For the original Italian version, there are several audio options: Italian mono LPCM, Italian 5.1 DTS-HD, and an English/Italian mono LPCM hybrid, which substitutes Italian dialogue for the sections that weren't overdubbed in English. It also comes with English subtitles. The Export version comes with a single English mono LPCM track and optional subtitles in English SDH. The 5.1 offers extra space for the sound effects and score to breathe, but the original mono tracks are the most effective. The Italian track sounds more natural by comparison, despite the fact that David Hemmings voices himself on the English track. Across all of these options, dialogue is clear, although slightly loose, as to be expected. Sound effects have plenty of fidelity, Goblin's score comes through with blistering authority, and there are no leftover distortions or dropouts.

The following extras are included on each disc:

DISC ONE: ORIGINAL VERSION

  • Audio Commentary by Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Audio Commentary by Thomas Rostock
  • Deep in the Red (HD – 57:40)
  • The Medium Wore Black (HD – 20:55)
  • 16 Years in Red (HD – 46:31)
  • Death Dies (HD – 14:47)
  • Carlo Never Dies (HD – 15:32)
  • I Am the Screaming Child (HD – 7:43)
  • Bloodstained (HD – 5:28)
  • Italian Trailer (HD – 1:47)
  • 2018 Arrow Video Trailer (HD – 1:30)
  • Posters Image Gallery (HD – 7 in all)
  • Lobby Cards Image Gallery (HD – 18 in all)
  • Promotional Stills Image Gallery (HD – 26 in all)
  • Japanese Pressbook and Flyer Image Gallery (HD – 13 in all)
  • Soundtracks Image Gallery (HD – 6 in all)
  • Easter Egg (HD – 4:35)

The bulk of the material included on this disc is new. The first audio commentary features writers and historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. The pair delve mightily into their favorite giallo film, discussing many facets of it in detail while watching it together. The second audio commentary with filmmaker and Dario Argento expert Thomas Rostock (one of three previously-released extras on this disc, besides the trailers) is a bit more scholarly, discussing the content of the film in greater detail. A series of interviews follows, most shot in 2018 and not included until now: Deep in the Red, an interview with Dario Argento and an archival interview with Daria Nicolodi; The Medium Wore Black, an interview with actress Macha Meril; 16 Years in Red, an interview with production manager Angelo Iacono; Death Dies, an interview with composer Claudio Simonetti; Carlo Never Dies, an interview with actor Gabriele Lavia; I Am the Screaming Child, an interview with actor Jacopo Mariani; and Bloodstained, an interview with actor Lino Capolicchio, who was Argento’s first choice for the role of Marcus Daly. Also included is the original Italian trailer, Arrow Video’s 2018 trailer, and a series of image galleries totaling 70 images in all. The Easter egg, which can be found by pressing right when Promotional Stills is highlighted, offers a set of silent raw dailies featuring English text inserts and alternate takes.

DISC TWO: EXPORT VERSION

  • Profondo Giallo (HD – 32:57)
  • 2011 Introduction by Claudio Simonetti (HD – :24)
  • Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid to Shop (HD and SD – 14:28)
  • Rosso Recollections: Dario Argento’s Deep Genius (HD and SD – 12:24)
  • The Lady in Red: Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profondo Rosso (HD and SD – 18:45)
  • Music to Murder For: Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red (HD and SD – 14:05)
  • US Trailer (HD – 2:44)

These archival special features include Profondo Giallo, an in-depth visual essay about the film by Michael Mackenzie in three chapters (A Symphony of Slaughter: Deep Red and the Substance of Style, Brains and Brute Strength: Gender in Deep Red, and The Final Word: Deep Red as the Giallo to End all Gialli); Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid to Shop, a tour of the Profondo Rosso shop in Rome by owner and Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi; Rosso Recollections, an interview with Dario Argento; The Lady in Red, an interview with Daria Nicolodi; and Music to Murder For, an interview with Claudio Simonetti. Also included is the film’s US trailer.

The discs sit inside a black amaray case with six lobby card reproductions and reversible artwork, featuring new art by Obviously Creative on the front and a version of the original US poster artwork on the reverse. Also in the package is a double-sided poster featuring the same new artwork on one side and the original Italian poster artwork on the other, as well as a 60-page insert booklet with cast and crew information; the essays Dario Argento's Deep Red by Alan Jones, Deep Red: The Quintessential Giallo by Mikel Koven, and The Architecture of Fear: The Surrealist Spaces of Dario Argento’s Deep Red by Rachael Nibset; and restoration details. Everything is housed within sturdy cardboard packaging featuring the same new artwork on the cover.

It's worth nothing that this release doesn't include the CD soundtrack from Arrow Video's Limited Edition Region B Blu-ray release from 2016. Also missing from their earlier 2-Disc DVD release is an Easter egg featuring Claudio Simonetti speaking about the remake of Suspiria. Not included from various overseas DVD releases is the documentary Dario Argento: Il Mio Cinema. And missing from the Blue Underground release is a set of interviews with Argento, co-writer Bernardino Zapponi, and the members of Goblin, as well as music videos by Goblin and Daemonia. It’s also worth noting that the R-rated US theatrical version, just a few minutes shorter than the Export version, is not included here either.

This being Arrow Video’s fifth bite at the Deep Red apple, much of it is expected and it doesn’t disappoint. Along with their previous 4K releases of The Cat O’Nine Tails and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Arrow is helping to set the standard for how Dario Argento’s work should look on the Ultra HD format. As was the case with their previous Blu-ray release, the film looks and sounds amazing and the supplements offer plenty of extra value. Highly recommended!

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

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