****/**** Image A Sound A Extras C
starring David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Clara Calamai
screenplay by Dario Argento and Bernardino Zapponi
directed by Dario Argento
***/**** Image A- Sound B Extras D
starring Eleonora Giorgi, Gabriele Lavia, Veronica Lazar, Leopoldo Mastelloni
written and directed by Dario Argento
by Walter Chaw Deep Red is a transitional film from the middle of Dario Argento's most creative period, one that sees the Italian Hitchcock (better: the Italian De Palma) building surreal temples on Hitchcock's meticulous foundations before abandoning them--disastrously and without explanation--following the release of 1982's Tenebre. With little scholarship on Argento that's current and/or comprehensive, and with the director himself seldom asked about his steep decline, what's left is this notion that Argento wanted to escape the Hitchcock-derivative label (only to return to it after the spark had fled or, more likely, proved illusory all along), or that he wanted a psychic divorce from De Palma, whose career Argento's paralleled for a while in theme and execution. Whatever happened eventually, Argento in 1975 seemed to be casting about for a new direction. He'd just completed his "animal" trilogy of gialli (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O' Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet) and nursed a belief that the genre had, if not run its course entirely, at least run its course for him. He dabbled in a failed period piece (Five Days in Milan), the function of which appears to be to demonstrate that Argento is no Sergio Leone (though to be fair, almost no one is Sergio Leone), and he contributed to a portmanteau for Italian television--a format to which he'd one day return with buddy George Romero and Two Evil Eyes.