Profondo Rosso a.k.a. Deep Red, Dripping Deep Red, The Hatchet Murders, and incomprehensibly, The Sabre Tooth Tiger, is considered by many to be Dario Argento’s magnum opus. However, I don’t hold that view -- Argento’s trademark is slasher horror and his Suspiria is the masterpiece of that genre. (Profondo Rosso is also sometimes dubbed Suspiria 2, an obvious marketing ploy since the two movies have nothing whatsoever to do with one another.)
But I do not discount the impact of Profondo Rosso. It is a remarkable film, a murder mystery/psychological thriller emphasizing visuals (stunning photography courtesy of Luigi Kuveiller), a maddening score by prog-rock group The Goblins and, naturally, Argento’s signature gore. It is a superb example of giallo filmmaking.
Marcus Day (David Hemmings), a jazz pianist teaching at a conservatory in Rome, witnesses the brutal slaying of Aryan psychic Helga Ullman (Macha Meril). With one clue gnawing at him, he mounts his own personal investigation, begrudgingly soliciting the help of Gianna (Daria Nicolodi), a reporter with the hots for Marcus. Completely embroiled in the mystery, Marcus is stalked by the killer and implicated in the string of murders surrounding him.
With twenty-five years of escalating movie violence since its initial release, the gore in Profondo Russo may seem tame to casual viewers, but within the framework of the film, it is horrific and will shock, thrill and gross out fans of the genre. Profondo Russo is also a testament to Argento’s ability to make gorgeous films on relatively low-budgets, filling every frame with the most gripping atmospheric eye candy. Bravo!