Monday, July 14, 2014

'90s Trash?: Trauma (1993)

Are we into the bad part of Dario Argento's Filmography or is the film better than you might think?  Today's film is Trauma, a film made by the Italian Maestro in...America.  It feels weird to write that.  This is not a surprise if you think about it, since this kind of thing was happening alot at the time.  John Woo came over to make films like Hard Target and Tsui Hark came over to make Double Team.  Is this film better than those films?  Being better than Team is not a big task, but you get my point.  The other point of contention is the film's star: Asia Argento.  Nowadays there is no issue with Asia Argento Starring in Films- by Dario or by others-, but there are people that hold her early Roles against her.  She had a small part in The Church (produced by Dario) and started to get bigger roles starting with 1990's The Phantom of the Opera.  Is it Nepotism?  Perhaps.  Does that mean that any film that Dario casts her in is instantly-bad because of this?  Of course not!  Trauma tells the oddly-connected tale of a helpful man and a young lady (Asia) who experiences some trauma.  Like most Argento films, there is a glove-wearing madman with a crazy weapon offing people for no clear reason.  Can our unlikely heroes save the day?  Is this way too similar to Deep Red?  To find out, read on...
A P.O.V. Killer is on the loose and he kills this black Nurse (the black lady dies first, you say!) with a crazy electric garotting machine.  Who makes this kind of thing?

Oh, Tom Savini.
Our hero sees Asia threatening to jump off of a bridge and takes her away.  She seems to not want his help, sneaking away moments later...only to be caught and taken back to her parent's house.
The Mom is a (fake) Psychic doing a seance when shit happens and she runs away.  The husband follows, but both of them are seemingly-killed by the same P.O.V. Killer.  How else do you explain this?
Our heroine does not take this well, but tries her best to deal with this...trauma & helps our hero as best she can.
The murders don't stop as the Press, the Police (but not Sting) and our heroes try to figure out the connection.  The answer appears to be in line with my favorite film of all-time...
They were all Doctors (or Nurses)!  The voice of Chucky is here as one of the victims-to-be and he wants no help.  Where's Inspector Trout when we need him?
The killings continue, leading to the film's Practical Effects Highlight: the head that wouldn't die!

I don't know how that works, but it is some great imagery.
After a fake-out, we get to meet the real killer: the Mother.  So when Argento is not making Asia's Mom Daria Nicolodi evil and/or killing her (Inferno, Opera, Phenomena), he's making her on-screen Mom evil.

It all relates to an operation that went awry and made her crazy.  She's now killing them, since...crazy.
As for her 'death,' she faked it by holding her hair and faking that she was carrying 'the dead woman's head in her hands.  Quick thinking, no.

In the End, she's stopped by a helpful kid and our heroes, getting decapitated by her own device.  It is alot like Deep Red, yeah.  The End.
This one feels weird and different...but is still good.  As an Argento fanboy, I can't be too mad at this film.  Yes, it does feel like a tweaked version of Deep Red at times.  Yes, it does seem a bit similar to the revenge plot from The Abominable Dr. Phibes (when they finally explain it).  The reason why I don't care- I like both of those films.  If you go into this film with no knowledge of Argento (like many did, I'm sure), the issues are pretty minimal.  You get some gore, but apparently alot less than was originally planned.  They apparently hired Tom Savini to do lots of gore, then changed their mind.  There is still gore- as you can see- but they chose to focus more on suspense and mystery.  It helps make the film a bit more accessible to non-Horror/Slasher fans, while perhaps alienating some gore hounds.  As for me, I liked the Story and grew to relate to most of the Characters.  It is not Argento's best film- that is probably still Suspiria- but it is no weak link in his Filmography.  If you disagree, feel free to toss your head down an Elevator Shaft...
Next up, I pull a Michael Cole and 'switch gears' to something new.  Josh Kirby is back...since I'm a glutton for punishment.  Stay tuned...


  1. Can't argue with that. "Trauma" is cool, and together with "Sleepless", it's the best post-80s-Argento-flick.

  2. Havent had a chance to see this one (mostly because Argento after the 90's kinda sucks) So I haven't been in a hurry to catch up with it, but Im definetly curious, hopefully I'll check it out soon! Thanks for the review, wasn't aware Brad Dourif was on this one!