Deep Red

Deep Red

"You think you're telling the truth, but in fact you're telling only your version of the truth. 
It happens to me all the time."

Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) is an English jazz pianist living in Torino. Late one night, he witnesses the murder of a renowned psychic (Helga Ulman) through an apartment window, but arrives too late to help, though he's sure that there's an important detail at the crime scene that he can't quite remember. Marcus joins forces with reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi) to track down the clues, which lead them to an abandoned house, an elementary school, and back again to the scene of the crime. As the clues are revealed, the murderer continues to strike in grisly fashion. The killer could be anyone – and Marcus is closer than he thinks.

Dario Argento has said that Deep Red is his favorite among his own films and it's a really good choice. I'd say it's his Rubber Soul, bridging the divide between two distinct phases of his career; it has the classic giallo format of his early works while introducing more paranormal elements, indicative of his middle period of the late 1970's and 1980's. Deep Red meanders at times but it has a brilliant and cunning little story. After you see the big reveal at the end, go back and watch it again - the thing Marcus couldn't remember was, in fact, there from the beginning.

  • Deep Red is a cool title for a movie, but it doesn't really relate in any way to the story.
  • The scene where the psychic has a vision of the killer in a theater is beautifully bookended by the opening and closing of a red velvet curtain. It's an effect that Argento first tried out in Four Flies on Gray Velvet and later used in Opera.
  • In fact, the cinematography throughout the film is stunning. Check out the beautiful steady-cam work and macro lens shots.
  • The bar in the square was designed after Edward Hopper's painting "The Nighthawks."
  • Marcus and Gianna share an aggressive, competitive flirtation throughout the film. They're reminiscent of William Powell and Myrna Loy. I think this is Daria Nicolodi's best performance. David Hemmings reminds me of a young Michael Caine.
  • The Art Nuveau mansion that Marcus explores still stands and is a highlight of Torino's Dario Argento Location Tour, though you can only view it from outside the fence.
  • The two animal deaths are the bird suicide and the lizard with a pin in its neck. We only see the lizard thrashing around (which is very upsetting), but I think we can expect that it died of its injuries.
What the Hell am I Watching?

 That aggressive flirtation manifests itself in a weird, and completely superfluous co-ed arm wrestling scene.

Apparently, Torino has a Library of Folklore and Popular Traditions. Probably not a big tourist spot.

In the best scene in the movie, the psychic's manager, Bardi (Piero Mazzinghi) is in his study late one night after discovering an important clue. He hears a noise and suddenly a creepy-ass mechanical puppet wielding a knife runs at him from behind a curtain. He knocks it down and breathes a sigh of relief before the killer bashes his head from behind and stabs him in the back of the neck.  The appearance of the puppet is jolting and unexpected. The suspense is beautifully timed, the music cue is superb, and the payoff is fantastic.

Man, that little ginger psycho gives me the creeps. Nicoletta Elmi was the go-to child actress of the giallo era, also appearing in Bay of Blood and Who Saw her Die? She then grew into a stunningly beautiful woman and appeared in Lamberto Bava's horror movie Demons. She gave up acting in the 1980's to become a doctor.

Fashion Moment

Let's hear it for Carlo's boyfriend, Massimo, for bringing some casual fabulousness to the set.  Dude can rock a kimono.

It may surprise you to learn that Massimo is played by a woman – Geraldine Hooper – hence the androgynous look.


  1. "Deep Red is a cool title for a movie, but it doesn't really relate in any way to the story." This is absolutely not true.T he colour red refers to the scarlet thread of murders and symbolic objects visible in the most shocking or revealing scenes of the movie, It is the fil rouge (excuse my pun) of the story. It was decides after long reflection. It was not chosen randomly and solely for its appeal for blood lovers. Think about the blood scenes, Argento invented that shade of blood himself using extra cherry sauce and he would pour the blood personally on the victims' body. Or think about the curtains in the theatre of one of the best scenes of the film of the movies are also deep red.ect.

    1. You make some excellent points! I realize now that there's a color motif in the movie, so I'll rescind my casual dismissal of the title. Thanks for your comments!

  2. There are dummies in the bar when Helga is murdered!

  3. In the bar when Helga is murdered there are dummies instead of actors.