Before the Internet helped spread the word about this incredible mid-1970s shocker -- one of the best horror films of that decade, easily -- the cult around this film was small, but intense. With the advent of the Web, people could rave to one another about it and, most importantly, sell bootlegs of it. In time it became popular enough that Anchor Bay Entertainment was able to remaster it and release it as a deluxe DVD in the late 1990s. The music, by the band Goblin, also was finally able to find its way to CD in the U.S. at around the same time.
Italian "giallo" filmmaker Argento's breakthrough film features Hemmings (famous at the time for starring in the murder mystery "Blowout") as a musician who witnesses the gruesome murder of a psychic, then finds himself the new target of the killer.
An eerie rock score by the Italian band Goblin, incredible cinematography, gore, great acting by Hemmings and a sick and twisted psycho make this an eerie cult classic. Even before it made its way to DVD, the film enjoyed a huge following among those lucky enough to have seen it.
Quentin Tarantino included a trailer of this movie before his re-release of Lucio Fulci's "The Beyond," which showed as a midnight movie in 1998. The film also garnered a cult following in Northern California thanks to a (cut) showing of it on Creature Features, a weekly TV horror-movie show. Even cut, the film was incredibly strong stuff for TV. It finally made its way to video in the 1980s, but in the still-cut American version of the film, which featured all the gore, but was missing some of the story development. Some people (myself included) actually like this U.S. version better, but it's no longer available.
Because star David Hemmings is an English actor his own voice doesn't appear in the Italian version (an Italian actor dubbed over his dialogue). The uncut version was finally made available on DVD, with a soundtrack that's in both English and Italian. Apparently, dubbing was only done for the American cut of the film. This isn't unlike the same thing that happened with Sergio Leone's "Good, the Bad and the Ugly," which runs longer in Italy. The uncut version will never be properly available in the U.S. because dubbing wasn't done on the extra scenes.
Back to this movie: "Deep Red" combines images of child-like innocence with deep, hardcore horror, creating an unnerving and amazing fear film. The cinematography is incredible. The music is incredible. The acting is ... well ... what you'd expect from an Italian horror film. The key word with this film is style and Argento would never deliver it as magnificently as he did here. He also met his future wife, Daria Nicolidi, on the set of this picture, and the two of them would produce luscious Asia Argento, star of many of his 1990s pictures.
The murders are incredibly choreographed and gruesomely detailed, and with rock music blaring in the background, they carry one hell of a whallop. Argento never made a better movie. His follow-up, "Suspiria," was more of a commercial success, but "Deep Red" has a better plot and just as much style. Watch out when searching for this masterpiece on video, however—some assholes released a new movie in 1994 under the title "Deep Red." It has nothing to do with the Argento classic and is a piece of crap. (In Japan, Argento's "Deep Red" was actually released after "Suspiria," under the title "Suspiria 2.")