Deep Red

The hi-def encoding of this iconic Italian '70s horror doesn't quite make the grade

Deep Red is arguably Dario Argento’s most important and accomplished film. Having made a name for himself with his ‘animal trilogy’ of thrillers, 1975’s Deep Red saw Argento pushing the genre into new areas, stretching himself as both a storyteller and a visual stylist. What resulted is every bit as gorgeous as it is gruesome, a film of spellbinding beauty and staggering cruelty that satisfies just as much as a murder mystery as it does as an all-out horror.

Picture: Deep Red arrives on Blu-ray with a pair of initially impressive, but slightly problematic encodes. Both versions of the film are presented as AVC 2.35:1 1080p encodes and certainly mark a significant step-up from previous DVD releases with improved detailing and clarity, not to mention far fewer unsightly areas of artefacting and other digital blemishes. The two transfers are also extremely grainy, probably more so than many filmgoers might expect, which does result in a loss of fine detailing.

All of which would be perfectly acceptable for a film of this vintage, but Arrow Video reportedly had to delay the release several times due to problems sourcing suitably high quality materials, and it looks as if the company may have got around this to some degree with some digital filtering. It’s certainly not ruinous, but it has resulted in a slightly processed look to the film’s visuals. Other issues include reports of a brief pixilation glitch (although this seems to be hardware dependent) and pulsing yellow levels in a handful of sequences.
Picture rating: 3/5

Audio: The Director’s Cut serves up a choice of Dolby Digital 2.0 and DTS-HD MA 5.1 versions of the original Italian language track, plus a DD2.0 presentation of the English language track. The stereo mixes both sound perfectly acceptable, although it’s rather disappointing that they’re only included in lossy form. As for the lossless 5.1 remix, despite a few errant surround effects it actually holds together rather well, with Goblin’s score benefiting the most. It’s worth noting that not all of the additional footage in the Director’s Cut had an English language track produced for it, so in these scenes the English DD2.0 mix switches to subtitled Italian. The Theatrical Cut only features the English DD 2.0 mix.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: In addition to both the 127min Director’s Cut and 105min Theatrical Cut, this two-disc set maintains the high standards we’ve come to expect from Arrow’s supplementary packages. The Director’s Cut is accompanied by a fascinating analytical commentary by Argento expert Thomas Rostock, interviews with Argento, actress Daria Nicolodi and composer Claudio Simonetti and two trailers. The Theatrical Cut is accompanied by a tour of the Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) shop in Rome. The set also includes the usual reversible sleeves, a double-sided poster and collectible booklet.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: Argento’s masterpiece gets a stylish hi-def package – although there’s still room for improvement.

Arrow Video, All-region BD, £23 approx, On sale now