Deep Red: Wikis


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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)

Profondo Rosso (also known as Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders) is a 1975 giallo thriller film directed by Dario Argento and starring David Hemmings. The soundtrack was composed by the band Goblin. It is one of Argento's more popular films, and has developed a fan base from genre fans. The film is considered by many to be Dario Argento's finest film.



Profondo Rosso is about 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 occasional friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia), Ulmann’s associate Dr. Giordani (Glauco Mauri) and reporter Gianna Brezzi, with whom Daly begins an affair. Brezzi’s character is played by Daria Nicolodi, who would later become Argento’s partner and the mother of his daughter Asia.

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. In typical Argento fashion, 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. This inability of a character to interpret or comprehend what he has seen is a common theme in Argento’s films and was used repeatedly in Tenebrae.

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, 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 gets hit in the shoulder by the knife, and, in the process, he kicks Martha toward the elevator shaft. Her excessively long necklace slips in through the crossed metal bars. She tries to pull herself away and, in doing so, the large pendant on the end of the necklace becomes lodged between two small metal bars. As Martha is desperately trying free the necklace, Marcus realizes she is caught and presses the button to activate the lift. It travels downward and the necklace starts choking her tightly. Her hands are clad in leather gloves, making her fingers much too thick to slip in-between her neck and the necklace to try and save herself before it's too late. The elevator provides so much force that the necklace cuts through her neck, decapitating her.


  • 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)


The Italian rock music band Goblin composed most of the film's musical score. Goblin also composed music for several other films by Dario Argento.[1]


  • 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.
  • 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. Distributers thought this film would be a success if the public thought this film was a sequel to Suspiria, hence the name change.
  • 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.
  • A full screen Italian language version with English subtitles contains the credits scene with David Hemmings reacting to the death of the killer in a pool of blood. The last few frames pause the image finally.
  • 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.


  1. ^ 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."

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