We all know that Netflix and other streaming video sites can be amazing things. Thousands of movies available instantly for us whenever we want them. What we’ve all discovered as well, though, is that 900 out of 1000 movies are waiting around to be seen simply because they have nowhere else to go; those movies who are so desperate to be seen that they’ll wait on the Internet just waiting to be loved. This usually leads to an hour of sifting through second rate, unheard of titles just to find something relatively interesting. Since we’re generally nice people, we’ve decided to help all of you out and bring you the good stuff.
For my first recommendation I decided to start with a big name director and a lesser known movie. Thanks to Netflix streaming, I bring you Deep Red by Dario Argento. Released in 1975 it is the story of a Jazz pianist who witnesses a murder in his apartment building. After a journalist carelessly publishes his photo as a witness to the murder he is stalked by the killer which leads to a race between solving the mystery and ending up a victim himself.
Deep Red is the first of its kind in many ways. Firstly, and probably most noticeably, is the influence it has on the visual style and themes of the slasher movies that were released a few years later in the United States. From the child with a butcher knife opening, to the POV of the killer camera work, Argento introduces elements of the slasher movie years before Halloween, Friday the 13th or any of the other their ilk made them well known horror tropes.
Secondly, is the production quality of the film. To say that a Dario Argento movie was shot well is kind of obvious praise, but it was this noticeable style and beautiful camera work that helped elevate horror of the time from grind house exploitation to a legitimate stylistic piece of filmmaking. Don’t get me wrong, this movie knows what it is and doesn’t shy away from gore, a moving car annihilates a well placed head for example. Even with the requisite gore, Deep Red was shot with noticeably more style than was typical at the time. With a talented visual director like Argento at the helm, Deep Red was an important move away from assembly line horror schlock that filled less than reputable movie houses at the time.
I do have to qualify all of my praise and admit that Deep Red does show its age, budget, and general campiness. The soundtrack is mostly laughable, the plot really only exists to move characters from set piece to set piece, the edits make it seem like pieces of the movie were ripped from the original, motivations are questionable if not confusing, and alliances appear and disappear as needed by the script.
Even with all of this, though, this movie stands out as an important part of horror history and is criminally unseen by most horror fans. Start it for the scenes that directly influenced sequences in Halloween, Friday the 13th and even Saw, then stick around for one of the creepiest dolls in cinema history. That alone is worth the hour and a half you’ll spend with this movie.