Last Octoblur I complained about Dario Argento's self-satisfied and overlong Tenebre, and now I'm about to do the same thing with his highly regarded 1975 giallo Profondo rosso (a.k.a. Deep Red). I love Suspiria, which Argento made right after Deep Red, because it showcases all of his talents — great music, fantastic visuals, a grinding sense of menace — and none of his shortcomings. Deep Red, however, despite a handful of terrific moments, is mostly Argento at his worst: indulging his self-delusion that he's another Hitchcock fashioning mysteries that aren't dull, characters that aren't shallow and dialog that isn't insipid.
David Hemmings (The Innocents) stars as a musician who stumbles, sort of, maybe, onto the scene of a violent murder. He and an annoying reporter (Daria Nicolodi) team up to solve the crime because the police detective in charge is cartoonishly obtuse. As they investigate, the killer starts knocking off everyone connected to the case.
Argento's talent does not lie in crafting compelling yarns, but rather how he sets the mood for, frames and executes idiosyncratic and gruesome scenes of terror. However, Deep Red runs over two hours long, most of which dwells on both the amateur detective work and the obnoxiously pointless flirting between Hemmings and Nicolodi, of which the latter goes absolutely nowhere. There are standout moments that almost earn the movie its reputation as one of Argento's best — a psychic freaking out on stage when she detects a killer in the audience; death scenes involving windows, dolls, an implausible automaton, and bathroom steam; a creepy animal-torturing ginger; a child's vivid drawing of a murder; an insane traumatic flashback; several striking and creative images. That sounds like a lot of good stuff, enough to fill most movies, but Deep Red is so bloated with inanely boring plot and character "development" that the fun parts seem infinitesimal.