If you’re looking for a great way to kick off the Halloween season, check out Dario Argento’s cult classic Profondo Rosso (more popularly known as Deep Red). The supernatural murder mystery is filled with twists and turns, one of the best soundtracks available, and even a murderous puppet.
When it comes to Profondo Rosso, it isn’t about reinventing the wheel. Instead, it’s about examining the wheel from a different angle, picking out intricacies and adding an artistic flair that few auteurs are capable of properly conveying. Bright and brilliant color schemes occupy Profondo Rosso’s universe, as the bright whites and, yes — the deep reds — create a mood and atmosphere that few other films can. Argento’s use of tracking shots and POV-style camerawork adds an additional layer of depth and complexity to the story: We’re not just witnessing a death on screen; in essence we as an audience become accomplices, following the killer’s motions and crimes from its point of view. It’s a great technique that adds a lot to the film.
In terms of plot, the Giallo classic centers on a telekinetic young woman and an aspiring musician who find themselves investigating a grisly string of murders, as the killer grows closer to discovering their location.
But the plot isn’t necessarily the important part of the film. After all, saying that Profondo Rosso is about a murder mystery is like saying that A Nightmare on Elm Street is about insomnia. Sure, it’s technically true, but it misses the entire point of the film.
Largely, Argento’s films are more style than substance, placing primary focus on gorgeous lighting, wonderful suspense, and a signature style of cinematography instead of a conventional plot and a story that resolves in a way that makes a shred of sense.
To provide the film’s excellent score, Argento once again relied on his frequent collaborators, Italian prog-rock outfit Goblin. From the moment you hear the first bass thump of the titular song, you know something truly abhorrent is about to take place. Much like he did with Suspiria, Argento uses the score first introduced in the opening credits as a sonic motif – a tactic that later showed up in classic slasher films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th, and even television shows such as Twin Peaks. In fact, most of the plot elements traced out in Profondo Rosso can be seen in later films such as Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.
Profondo Rosso is cheesy, it’s over the top, and above all it’s remarkably artistic.
Recommended for fans of classic Hitchcock and Mario Brava, Profondo Rosso is available for purchase through Analog Revolution and Modern Vintage Films.