|Promotional artwork for Deep Red.|
From time to time we all complain about the obtrusive musical soundtracks that accompany some films. Spoiling our enjoyment when the music attempts to tell you how to feel about a scene, but with certain movies it’s inconceivable that we could watch them without a soundtrack. For example directors like Quentin Tarantino use music to enhance the story line, you couldn’t imagining watching Pulp Fiction (1994) or perhaps Kill Bill (2003, 2004) without it’s musical score.
Another director who is famous for experimenting with music is the leading Italian director of horror movies and mystery thrillers Dario Argento. When he first wanted to score his film Deep Red (1975) he contacted jazz pianist and composer Giorgio Gaslini who, it is alleged, he fell out with and had to look for somebody else, eventually finding a home grown progressive rock band called Goblin. Influenced by early Genesis and King Crimson the band so impressed Argento he got them to rewrite most of the score including the films famous main theme which forms an important part of the narrative. Goblin in one form or another subsequently went on to score many of Argento’s films.
The original title of the movie was Profondo rosso but in America where it was cut by some twenty minutes it’s known as The Hatchet Murders. The film is usually referred to as being part of a sub genre known as giallo which in Italian is a word meaning yellow and stems from a series of cheap pulp paperback mystery novels which all had trademark yellow covers.
Co-written by Argento, Deep Red proved to be his break through film and he remarked that it was his favourite of all his movies. A film between dream and fantasy with a plot that does not take close examination but it has his trademark vibrant colour, massive close ups, jump shots, flamboyant camera movement, gruesome bloody death’s and as I previously pointed out a great score. The story involves some gory murders linking a mystery from the past, which English piano teacher Marcus Daly (played by a rather lack lustre David Hemmings) attempts to investigate with a local reporter Gianna Brezzi (played by Daria Nicolodi, Argento’s wife at the time). Is it a film worth seeing? Yes as an example of this world-renowned directors oeuvre, in fact it’s a good place to start.