One night, when coming home, pianist Marc Daly (David Hemmings)
witnesses the murder of psychic Helga Ullmann (Macha Méril) in the
appartment directly above his. And even though he rushes right up, the
killer can escape, and all Marc has to go on is a vague memory of a
painting that might reveal the identity of the killer - but that has
mysteriously disappeared by the time the police arrives. And when, thanks to
nosey reporter Gianna (Daria Nicolodi) a photo of his - as the only witness
of the crime - is printed in the newspapers, he sees himelf threatened by
the killer, and since the police seems to rather bumble about, Marc finds
himself forced to investigate on his own.
But Marc's investigation - sometimes aided by reporter Gianna, who soon
falls in love with him and vice versa - turn more and more into a wild
goose chase, his clues being a children's tune, an author on urban legends
(Giuliana Calandra) - who is promptly murdered before Marc can speak to her
-, an allegedly haunted house, a plastered over wall painting in that
house, a walled up room and finally a corpse inside the walled up room
that must have been there for some 20 years ...
But exactly when Marc has found all these clues, the haunted house goes
up in flames, and not only does he almost die in the house, also all his
collected evidence is destroyed in one go ... until he and Gianna find a
child's painting that resembles that one in the haunted house too close for
comfort - so they break into the school where the kid who did the painting
went to 20 years ago to find out the kid's name.
But of course, the killer is very close behind ...
Profondo Rosso is considered Dario Argento's first masterpiece,
one of the masterpieces of the giallo genre, and also the first that sees
Argento's talent in full bloom. Sure, Argento has made giallos before,
pretty much since the inception of the genre, and good ones even, but with
this one, he really seemed to have found his cinematic language, where
moments of both shock and suspense would relie more on strong pictures and
music/sound design than on story, becoming impressive setpieces in their
own right, pretty much carrying the story instead of just supporting it -
and frequent trips into the bizarre or the ultra violent only help to give
these sequences extra spark, as does the strong score by prog rockers
Goblin (their first collaboration with Argento) and jazz pianist Giorgio
Gaslini. Plus the camerawork is first class, featuring impressive visual
That all said, one can't help but noticing the story of this film is
hopelessly convoluted, and relies on coincidence and far-fetched plot
twists a bit too much - but that hardly matters while watching the film,
which is quite simply an audio-visual masterpiece!