Dario Argento’s influential giallo gets deep, and there’s red stuff involved
Following the Brain Damage we received to start Week Three-o, feature Two-o was Dario Argento’s 1975 giallo classic Profondo Rosso, aka Deep Red, an over-the-top murder mystery that’ll keep first-time viewers guessing until about the last three minutes and keeps repeat viewers coming back for the score and its over-the-top complexity and style.
A giallo, as decribed by Joe Bob, is an “Italian weirdbeard amateur detective story” where usually some twisted black-gloved killer offs a bunch of people in complex and gory fashion while the protagonist goes through various twists and turns trying to figure out what’s going on. Deep Red is one of the better examples of the genre, popular in Italy the 1960s before winding down for the most part in the 1980s, and arguably can be considered Argento’s best movie.
The director himself is described by his biggest supporters as “the Hitchcock of Italy.” And much as the British master of macabre has an legendary reputation, Argento’s work tends to attract a certain level of high-brow analysis, one that may incite JBB (who’s not a violent man) to blow a gasket. So if you meet him in person and want to talk about Dario, be warned:
- “If you come up to me at any show and talk to me about diegetic sound in Argento, I will punch you in the nose.”
- Mentioning Argento’s “baroque mise en scene” will also get your ass beat.
- Saying “I find that in Profondo Rosso, Argento is accessing gothic imagery from Lovecraft but distorting it anamorphically while teasing us with asynchronous sound” again could mean a whoopin.
“People just lost their f—–g mind about Dario Argento,” Joe Bob said.
Now that you’ve been warned, the critic from Grapevine dropped knowledge aplenty on this flick and genre that has influenced the slasher genre we know and love.
Dario’s got a style all his own, and Deep Red features gender confusion, audience confusion and a weak, ineffectual and reactive “hero” played by David Hemmings who is really good at breaking and entering and vandalism. It’s got brilliant cinematography, Goblin’s rocking score and even scenes based on a famous painting — Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.
But because of the director’s tendency to “borrow” and show off, Joe Bob sees him more like the Brian DePalma of Italy.
“The story as told, isn’t possible, but Argento didn’t care about plot … Argento is always playing with the assumptions about what you’re seeing. Are you seeing what you’re seeing and are the characters seeing what they’re seeing?” Joe Bob said. “The lying camera.”
The inclusion of supernatural events moved this giallo more toward overall horror than suspense and there are random moments tossed into the film with loud music by Goblin that add disorder and craziness to creep the viewer out – but the whole world inside the movie can’t be crazy or the audience won’t connect. But, as JBB reminds us, nothing’s crazier than a cult, and the Italian maestro’s gathered one through a filmography that is definitively and uniquely his.
8 Dead Bodies
1 Dead Crow, Skewered
1 Robot Doll Attack
1 Secreted Mummy
1 House Fire
Bloody Cleaver Hacking
Truck Dragging Followed By Head Squishing
Crocheted Voodoo Doll
Supernatural Public Lavatory
Multiple Butcher Knife Attacks
Drowning in Scalding Bathtub Water
Blade to the Throat
Sinister Point-of-View Camera
Multiple Doll Mutilations
1 Gothic Haunted House
Horrific Children’s Drawings
Multiple Nekkid Doll Rope Strangulations
Gratuitous Intergender Arm Wrestling
Two Heads Roll
Black Glove Fu
Giant Eye Fu
Diamond Necklace Fu
Post feature, we got a letter writer name-dropping Brinke Stevens, the greatest marine biologist/scream queen of the 1980s who name-dropped Joe Bob in a movie called The Naked Monster.
In addition, Darcy had a customized Deep Red puppet and Joe Bob got back on track in the joke column.