Gialloween Day 9: The Chronology of Deep Red in a Giallo Fan's Journey
Damn, what can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? Outside Argento’s first foray into the genre with Bird with the Crystal Plumage, his wonderful return to form in the 80s with Tenebrae, and genre progenitor Mario Bava’s classic Blood and Black Lace, Deep Red remains as one of the most well-known and critically acclaimed entry in Argento’s canon and the giallo genre itself. Rather than going into my usual spiel of breaking the film down via a review, I’d like to talk my experience with Deep Red and its chronology in a giallo fan’s exploration of the genre.
My first exposure to this film was as a then fan of Suspiria (still remains one of my favorites) wanting to dive deeper into Argento’s filmography. I finally got a PS3 and wanted to start a Blu-Ray collection. Unfortunately, there was no good print Suspiria out at the time, so I had to find an alternative. This was before I realized the existence of the giallo subgenre— back then i just wanted more films that “looked like Suspiria”. Trolling IMDB and other internet sources for recommendations, many held Deep Red in high praise, some saying they preferred that Suspiria. That was it from my end, I ordered that along with a couple of other Blu-Rays, excitedly waiting to watch them in all their visual glory.
The day of arrival was here, thankful for my Amazon Prime subscription I did not have to wait long. All was set in the basement with my “King Chair”, beer in hand, and when I began Deep Red…I fell asleep about 30 minutes in. It wasn’t that the film was bad / not as visually captivating as Suspiria. I attribute it to the combination of not expecting a non-supernatural mystery thriller in which I’d have to pay attention to the many clues in the film plus me being very stoned in preparation for the “cool visuals”. Cue the credits music and me waking from a nice nap. “Well…that was not what I was expecting”. I then decided to properly christen my Blu-ray DVD collection by re-watching The House of the Devil and Chunking Express, great films I did not fall asleep too.
After that evening I put a dog-eared page in Argento’s filmography and life resumed. It wasn’t only until late 2013 a couple of years later that I had encountered/rediscovered Argento and genre of giallo in all of its glory by way of the Giallo Ciao Ciao podcast. I still remember the first gialli I watched all the way through being Bay of Blood & Strip Nude for Your Killer. Definitely a unique entry point, but by the time I worked my way through the animal trilogy and other films from the 70’s and 80s, I was ready to attack Deep Red again.
The second time around, not only did I not fall asleep, I actually enjoyed the hell outta it! Being able to follow the clues, seeing all the influences from previous gialli and Argento films, appreciating the radical change in music by Goblin over the previous genre soundtracks. It was a great experience, and looking back, I’m happy I slept through my first viewing without having all the knowledge of the genre back then.
To pass down wisdom from experience I’d recommend any readers take the following path if they are interested in Susupiria / giallo and want to dive through the Argento’s filmography. Start with the Bird with the Crystal Plumage. It is a better / more entertaining entry point than Bava’s Blood & Black Lace as Argento. Like there is a before and after in the medium of the novel with Flaubert, there is a definite change in style pre and post Argento. After Bird, either continue down the rest of the animal trilogy, watch some of the Sergio Martino / Lucio Fulci gialli’s, and sprinkle in some Bava. Armed with the knowledge of watch the genre is only then can Deep Red appreciated to its fullest.