Dreadful Things
Deep Red


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1975  Dir: Dario Argento  With: David Hemmings, Gabriel Lavia, Macha Meril, Daria Nicolodi

This was the film that established Argento's visual and bloody style, after his earlier thrillers, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Cat O' Nine Tails.

In Rome at a conference on parapsychology, guest of honour Helga Ulman (Macha Meril) gives an impressive demonstration of mental telepathy. The upbeat mood, however, is soon shattered when, after a violent seizure, Helga makes the dramatic statement that someone in the room is a murderer and that they will kill again soon.

Later that evening, her prediction comes true and she herself is the victim, when a cleaver-wielding maniac attacks and kills her in her apartment..

British jazz musician Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) witnesses the killing from the street below. He rushes up to the apartment, but he fails to save Helga and his attempt to catch her attacker is fruitless.

He becomes caught up in the investigation and also a target for the killer. Marcus is also troubled by a detail about the incident that he struggles to recall.

He becomes involved with journalist Gianna (Daria Nicolodi) after being responsible for putting his photograph in the newspaper article, which identifies him as the key witness, With her assistance and fellow musician Carlo (Gabriele Lavia), and Helga's friend Giordani (Glauco Mauri), Marcus needs to stop the killer before he becomes one of his victims.

Daly is convinced that a missing picture in the victim's apartment reveals the identity of her killer. He is assisted by Daria. They travel around in her car, which provides some comic moments as the doors keep getting jammed and they both have to climb out through the roof.

People who assist them in their search have a nasty habit of becoming victims their selves. The best way to survive in this movie it seems is to keep your information to yourself - otherwise you're doomed!

One of the victims tries to leave a message behind in the condensation on the wall of her steam-filled bathroom, but the message, of course, disappears when the steam is gone. Nevertheless it is rediscovered in classic, self-consciously clever, Argento style.

The mystery is tied up with weird child drawings, a hidden room, and a first ending where you go: 'huh?' Then you realise that the killer is yet to be unmasked, since you know that the suspected person couldn't possibly have done it. The way the first suspected killer meets his end is classic Argento, and overall this is one of his best films!