Viewed – 16 June 2011 Blu-ray
I have been a fan of horror maestro Dario Argento for a few years now, and went about collecting much of his back catalogue at one time. With the recent release of one of his most acclaimed movies on Blu-ray however, I felt it was high time I rediscovered this classic Giallo. David Hemmings (Gladiator, Blow Up) plays a concert pianist who one night witnesses the murder of a renowned psychic. This gets him involved in the ensuing investigation, where he befriends a gutsy reporter, played by the ever-likable Daria Nicolodi (Opera, Tenebrae, Phenomena).
Naturally as a fan of the director’s work I was quick to recognise his expert camera work, stylish cinematography and stunning music from frequent collaborator’s Goblin. Plot-wise it’s also one of his more coherent and involving storylines, with Hemming’s central performance carrying the movie well and he makes for an enjoyable ‘everyman’ hero. Supporting cast including regular Argento star Gabriele Lavia is more theatrical and camp, as is the over-acting of Macha Meril as the psychic, Helga. I wasn’t overly keen on the more light-hearted moments either that attempt comedy but feel out-of-place to the otherwise foreboding and tense atmosphere. Thankfully though Argento delivers superbly in some brilliantly staged murder sequences that ooze style and expert craftmanship, marking him out, even back in 1975 as a true master of the genre. Perhaps the movie could have been a touch better edited though, as some plot elements jump all over the place with just brief glimpses of important points, meaning unless you’re paying very close attention it’s easy to get confused.
This shorter theatrical cut does away with some of the more plodding, talk-heavy segments but looses none of the set-pieces, and for me, considering that the longer director’s cut jumps annoyingly between English and Italian, makes this the definitive version. For your money however both cuts are featured on this new Blu-ray from Blue Underground, and along with an exceptionally preserved and remastered picture and great sound, especially when Goblin’s music kicks in, makes this a must own for fans. Extra’s consist of a short featurette with interviews of the director, producer and members of goblin, and also a couple of music videos and a trailer. A commentary is a glaring ommision, but considering the fine treatment done to the movie itself, it’s hard to grumble all that much.
So for me, not quite the masterpeice it’s often referred to as, but still well worth seeking out.
Verdict: 3.5 /5
- Giallo, A Mystery Novel directed by Dario Argento has a release date (primociak.wordpress.com)
- All the Colors of the Giallo: ‘Deep Red’/’The Perfume of the Lady in Black’ (Short Ends and Leader) (popmatters.com)
- UK’s Arrow Video Lines Up Some Tasty Treats for Your May/June Schedule! (dreadcentral.com)
- More Behind-the-Scenes Stills: Dario Argento’s Dracula (dreadcentral.com)