Deep Red

Deep Red
Profondo Rosso (Deep Red)
Directed by Dario Argento
Produced by Salvatore Argento
Written by Dario Argento
Bernardino Zapponi
Starring David Hemmings
Daria Nicolodi
Gabriele Lavia
Macha Meril
Eros Pagni
Giuliana Calandra
Glauco Mauri
Clara Calamai
Piero Mazzinghi
Music by Goblin
Cinematography Luigi Kuveiller
Editing by Franco Fraticelli
Release date(s)

March 7, 1975 (Italy) June 11, 1976 (US)

January 18, 1980 (US re-release)
Running time 126 min
Edited version:
98 min
Country Italy Italy
Language Italian (U.S. release dubbed into English language)
Box office ITL 3,709,723,000 (Italy)

Profondo Rosso (also known as Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders)[1] is a 1975 giallo film directed and written by Dario Argento and co-written by Bernardino Zapponi. It was released on March 7, 1975 in Italy and June 11, 1976 in the United States. The film's score was composed and performed by Goblin. It stars David Hemmings as a music teacher who investigates a series of murders performed by a mysterious figure wielding a hatchet. Although the film was not a financial success internationally, the film has met with critical acclaim.



Profondo Rosso follows music teacher Marcus Daly (Hemmings) as he investigates the violent murder of psychic medium Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril), which he witnesses in an apartment building. Other major characters are introduced early, including Daly’s gay friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia), Ulmann’s associate Dr. Giordani (Glauco Mauri) and reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi), with whom Daly begins an affair.

After his attempt to rescue the medium fails, Daly realises he could have seen the killer’s face among a group of portraits on the wall of the victim’s apartment but is unable to find or recognize it when the police arrive. Later in the film, he also initially overlooks another clue that causes him to discover a mouldering corpse walled up in a derelict house. One murder leads to a series of others as Daly’s obsession with this vital clue that he fails to understand endangers his life and that of everyone with whom he comes into contact. Among those killed are Giordani, Amanda Righetti (Giuliana Calandra), and Carlo.

The killing of Helga Ulmann is prefaced by a child’s doggerel tune, the same music that accompanies the film’s opening sequence in which two shadowy figures struggle until one of them is stabbed to death. The music serves as the murderer’s calling card. When Daly hears it in his own apartment soon after becoming involved in the case he is able to foil his attacker. Later, he plays the tune to Giordani, a psychiatrist, who theorizes that the music is important because it probably played an integral part in a traumatic event in the killer's past. The doctor’s theory is of course correct, as the identity of the killer is finally revealed as Carlo’s insane mother Martha (Clara Calamai). When Carlo was still a child, he watched as she murdered her husband when he tried to have her committed to a mental hospital, then entomb his body in a room of their house. Daly’s discovery of the corpse is one of the film’s most dramatic moments.

In the climax, Martha confronts Marcus and tries to kill him. Wielding a butchering knife, Martha chases him around the complex and into a room with an elevator. Marcus is stabbed in the shoulder by the knife, and kicks Martha toward the elevator shaft. A long necklace she wears catches in the bars of the shaft, and she is decapitated when Daly summons the lift. The film ends with Daly staring into the resultant pool of blood.


  • David Hemmings as Marcus Daly
  • Daria Nicolodi as Gianna Brezzi
  • Gabriele Lavia as Carlo
  • Macha Méril as Helga Ulmann
  • Eros Pagni as Supt. Calcabrini
  • Giuliana Calandra as Amanda Righetti
  • Piero Mazzinghi as Bardi
  • Glauco Mauri as Prof. Giordani
  • Clara Calamai as Martha
  • Aldo Bonamano as Carlo's father
  • Liana Del Balzo as Elvira
  • Vittorio Fanfoni as Cop taking notes
  • Dante Fioretti as Police photographer
  • Geraldine Hooper as Massimo Ricci
  • Jacopo Mariani as Young Carlo (as Iacopo Mariani)
  • Nicoletta Elmi as Olga


The Italian progressive rock music band Goblin composed most of the film's musical score. Goblin also composed music for several other films by Dario Argento.[2]


This film is known as Suspiria PART 2 (サスペリアPART2) in Japan. This film was released two years before Suspiria in Italy, and the two movies are unrelated. This was done due to the tremendous success of Suspiria in Japan. Distributors thought this film would be a success if the public thought this film was a sequel to Suspiria, hence the name change.

Multiple versions of the film exist on DVD and VHS, in large part due to the fact that Argento removed 26 minutes (largely scenes between Nicolodi and Hemmings) from the film, footage that was never dubbed in English. For years, it was assumed that the film's American distributors were responsible for removing said scenes, but the recent Blu-Ray release confirmed that Argento oversaw and approved the edits to the film.

The original English version is available on VHS and DVD, under the title "Deep Red: The Hatchet Murders". This version of the film is a public domain film.

In 1999, Anchor Bay acquired the rights to release the film uncut, on both DVD and VHS. Their version restored the missing footage, but kept the American end credit scene (a freeze frame shot of Hemmings looking down upon a pool of blood). As there was no dubbed versions of the missing scenes, the scenes (and additional dialogue omitted in the dubbed version) was featured in its original Italian language. The DVD offered both English and Italian audio tracks as well. Anchor Bay later released a two-pack DVD containing Tenebre and Deep Red.

Blue Underground obtained the rights to the film in 2008 and released it as a standard DVD. Their Blu-Ray release, release in 2011, contains the US version of the film (which is referred to as "The Director's Cut") and the original edit (referred as "Uncut" and contains option to watch it in Italian or English/Italian.

Critical reception

Ian Jane of DVD Talk critiqued, "As to the film itself, it holds up as one of Argento's finest moments, a taut and suspenseful thriller shot with style and class and featuring some stand out set pieces, amazing camera work, and a few strong performances. Highly recommended."[3]

Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict said, "Frankly, there is no better Italian thriller, giallo, detective, horror, or slasher style film than Deep Red. It resonates with all the visual excesses and subliminal undercurrents that Argento would later explore to their maximum capacity. It is a tour de force of camera, composition, and film craft skills. It is such a benchmark of smart, passionate film construction that it surpasses expectations and thwarts potential imitations. It's interesting to note that even when Argento presently returns to the giallo style thriller to keep his name in the genre, the films (Tenebrae, Non Ho Sonno, Opera) all resemble pale imitations of Deep Red."[4]

Casey Burchby of DVD Talk called it "the most beautifully shot horror film ever made."[5]

J.C. Maçek III of wrote, "There are reasons that Deep Red is considered one of the best films of its kind, but be warned, this is neither a primer, nor an introduction to films of this kind. While this is light on the profanity and almost nonexistent on the nudity, there is enough violence and horrific brutality to fill up two or three films made by the other guys. Further, Argento knew just how to make these hit home, using imagery that anybody in the audience could easily relate to, due to its realism and every-day nature. Ouch."[6]


  • In an attempt to make the movie's cityscape at once familiar and alien to the domestic public each of the external scenes were filmed in a different Italian city.
  • 11 seconds of cuts made to the film by the BBFC in 1993 were waived when the film was re-submitted in 2005.
  • The closeup shots of the killer's hands, clad in black leather gloves, were performed by director Dario Argento himself.
  • In one scene David Hemmings walks past a tavern at night. The tavern is styled after the famous painting "Nighthawks", by Edward Hopper.
  • Director Dario Argento's shop in Rome is named 'Profondo Rosso' after this film.
  • Co-writer Bernardino Zapponi said the inspiration for the murder scenes came from Argento and himself thinking of painful injuries to which the audience could relate. Basically, not everyone knows the pain of being shot by a gun, but almost everyone has at some point accidentally struck furniture or been scalded by hot water.

Argento’s films are known for such elaborate scenes of violence and suspense, with meticulous build-up and a visceral study of the mechanics of killing. The murder scenes are generally quite extended: in this film, a female author is knocked on the head, then dragged into a bathroom and drowned in a bath filled with scaldingly hot water. Not long afterward, the psychiatrist has his face bashed against a wall, a mantelpiece and a desk before he is finally killed with a large knife. The doctor, alone in his office, is viewed through a window as if being watched, the jarring soundtrack reaches a crescendo and then, when the killer would be expected to burst upon him he is instead accosted by a large doll that approaches him menacingly from the shadows, apparently of its own free will. While Giordani quickly destroys it, the doll is in fact the murderess' calling card and she appears moments later from behind a curtain.

Profondo Rosso has many minor details that presage later events. The bathtub murder is foreshadowed by an earlier scene when Daly is slightly scalded by an espresso machine; similarly, Daly explains to Gianni that his psychiatrist once explained that his piano playing is symbolic of him bashing his father’s teeth in, and later in the film Giordani suffers exactly that fate. A child’s doll hanging from a noose and a brief cut to a dog fight (with one dog biting the other by the neck, the other carrying a strange, ghastly gaze) foretell Martha’s aforementioned demise at the end of the film, when the heavy neckchain she is wearing becomes entangled in the bars of an elevator that then ascends, lifting her into the air until she is decapitated. The film also marks the introduction of many of Argento's techniques: discordant soundtracks, odd angles, rolling cameras and various lighting techniques.

Alternate versions

  • Original Italian version is 126 minutes long. Most US versions remove 22 minutes worth of footage, including most graphic violence, all humorous scenes, almost all of the romantic scenes between David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi and part of the subplot regarding the house of the screaming child.
  • The U.S. video release by Anchor Bay Entertainment is a mostly restored version, reinstating gore shots and scenes with dialogue that were cut from the initial U.S. release. It was likely that these scenes were cut before the English dub was prepared, and so they now only exist with an Italian dub (English subtitles are provided for these scenes). However, in the original theatrical version, the end credits are displayed over a shot of Marcus's reflection in a pool of blood. The image is moving (blood drips into the pool, Hemming's face changes expression etc.) while the credits are displayed. The Anchor Bay's release features the credits over a freeze-frame of the original shot. Other than this change, the Anchor Bay VHS/DVD is the full uncut version of the film.
  • The later DVD release from Blue Underground is the exact version mentioned above. Also, Blue Underground released an "Uncensored English Version" on DVD May 17th, 2011. This cut of the film runs no more than 105 minutes. [7]
  • The original UK Redemption video release was cut by 11 seconds to remove scenes of 2 dogs fighting and a live lizard impaled with a pin. The 2005 Platinum DVD issue is slightly re-framed (to exclude the lizard scene) and restores the dog sequence, as it seems likely that they are playing rather than fighting.
  • The full-length Italian version (with English subtitles and one small cut by UK censors) is available on video in the UK in pan & scan format from Redemption Films. The only known widescreen print of this version can be found in Australia completely uncut on both SBS-TV and its pay-TV channel World Movies. Note that the widescreen laserdisc release is in English language and was cut by director Argento himself by about 12 minutes.


In 2010 George A. Romero was contacted by Claudio Argento to direct a 3D remake of Deep Red which Claudio said would also involve Dario. Romero showed some interest in the film however after contacting Dario, who said he knew nothing about the remake, declined Claudio's offer. It is unknown if Claudio will look elsewhere for a director or still has plans to remake his brother's film. [8][9]


  1. ^ "Deep Red (1975)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Flanagan, Jamie. "S". Italian Film blog.  "The film’s menacing score is provided by Argento-favorites Goblin, an Italian prog-rock band who also scored Argento’s Suspiria and George A. Romero’s horror classic Dawn of the Dead."
  3. ^ Ian Jane. "Deep Red". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  4. ^ Bill Gibron. "Deep Red". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  5. ^ Casey Burchby. "Deep Red". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  6. ^ J.C. Maçek III. "Deep Red". Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  7. ^ "Blue Underground's Online Catalogue Page for 'Deep Red: Uncensored English Version'". Retrieved 11 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "George A. Romero Offers More Living Dead Updates, Comments on Deep Red Remake". DreadCentral. 
  9. ^ Deep Red at the Internet Movie Database

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