Psychic medium Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril) can read minds. Unfortunately, she picks up the thoughts of a murderer in her audience and soon becomes a victim.
English jazz pianist Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) – who lives and works in Italy – gets involved in solving the murders but finds many of his avenues of enquiry cut off by new murders, and he begins to wonder how the murderer can track his movements so closely.
Helping him investigate are friends of the deceased psychic as well as a reporter named Gianna Brezzi (Darla Nicoldoi).
The plot grows more complicated with each passing scene, eventually becoming almost incomprehensible as Argento adds in myths and rumours and whatnot.
A whodunit brimming with style, its ace in the hole is its final sequence, in which Marcus retraces his steps to discover that the killer had been hiding in plain sight all along (rewind to the beginning to make yourself feel like a fool).
As with other Argento films, the accent in Deep Red is on the visuals: the artsy sets, the garish lighting, and the tendency for the camera to dwell on brutal details – featuring death by necklace, sideboard and boiling bath!
Images are stark with high contrast lighting, and there’s lots of visual symmetry. Emotionally, Deep Red is cold – entirely appropriate, given that the theme relates to the psychological coldness of a killer.
While the story is set in Rome, most of the outdoor scenes were actually shot in Turin. Originally released as Profondo Rosso.
Liana Del Balzo