THE HATCHET MURDERS
Seen, Deep Red is an interesting film, although not quite the masterwork that many have called it. It rehearses many of the themes that identify a film as distinctly Dario Argentos. There is the recurrent theme of the hero(ine) who sees an important clue in the crime yet is unable to remember it later or mistakes it for something else. (Here Argento pointedly casts David Hemmings who came to fame in fellow Italian director Michaelangelo Antonionis Blow Up (1966), a classic of mistaken enigmatic clues, a film that Argento acknowledges as the inspiration for Deep Red). There is also the increasing unimportance of plot to Argento, with Deep Red having been almost entirely constructed around sadistic set-pieces the killers motivation when revealed seems ludicrously contrived.
The sadistic set-pieces in his films are what has gained Dario Argento a cult. The ones in Deep Red have become the stuff of legend the psychic being killed, her neck being shoving into the glass of a broken window; Giuliana Calandra having her head smashed against a wall and then drowned under the boiling water of a bath; the pianist Glauco Mauri having his teeth bashed out against a mantel-piece and then being stabbed in the neck; one character being hooked by a garbage truck and dragged through the streets, before being run over by David Hemmings car as he skids to a halt; David Hemmings hooking the killers necklace in the gate of the elevator cage and they being decapitated when he pushes the button.
The problem here is that Dario Argentos set-pieces sound nastier in description than they do in actuality. Argento has not yet developed the sublimely arty sadism of films like Inferno (1980) or his masterpiece Opera (1987). There are times here that his direction seems rushed. The soundtrack certainly seems crudely engineered. There are occasional flashes of the high art approach that Argento would later develop the camera cruising in closeup along the notes of a music score and the keys on a piano and between the toys on a floor, or the constant sense of voyeurism as the camera seems to take the point-of-view of someone creeping up on the hero sitting in the library or peeping out from behind curtains at the psychic talking in the hall in the opening scene. There is also an excellent opening set during the parapsychology conference with the psychic giving a demonstration of her abilities only to then pick up flashes from the killer in the audience.
A remake was announced in the 2010s to be directed by Dario Argentos longtime friend George Romero, although no further details have yet emerged.
Dario Argentos other films are: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Cat ONine Tails (1971), Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Tenebrae/Unsane (1982), Phenomena/Creepers (1985), Opera/Terror at the Opera (1987), Two Evil Eyes (1990), Trauma (1993), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996), The Phantom of the Opera (1998), Sleepless (2001), The Card Player (2004), Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (2007), Giallo (2009) and Dracula (2012).