You gotta wonder what family gatherings are like at the Argento home. Stendhal Syndrome of course had Dario directing his daughter being raped, and in Trauma, when she was only like 16, he’s got her nude in one scene, and making out with a guy 2x her age in another. Nice guy. He’s also apparently confused as to where the vocal chords are located in the human body, as no less than 3 disembodied heads are seen talking in an otherwise realistic movie. What the hell’s with this guy?

Oh but I love him so. Like almost all of his films, I enjoyed every minute of it, even when I hadn’t a clue as to what was going on (why the dream sequence with Asia breaking a VHS tape?). There’s a bit with a little kid who you think is going to decapitate himself that ranks as one of my favorite bits in his modern career, the only disappointing aspect is that the kid doesn’t go all the way, as it were.

This one is a lot like Deep Red at times, but that’s a good thing, since that’s one of his best. I’d rather be reminded of Deep Red than, I dunno, Jenifer (“Hi, I’m Steven Weber, and I’m gonna write myself into a movie where my character is constantly getting blown”). Combining the standard giallo plot with the disturbing real life affliction known as anorexia is pretty interesting, and few directors are as capable as Argento at combining the two. While he is treading familiar territory, he still manages to keep the nearly two hour film consistently interesting and suspenseful. There’s also a lot of moments that made me laugh out loud, like when a pharmacist punches a guy out for trying to fake a prescription. I think the world would be a better place if more pharmacists dealt out their own unique brand of justice.

Also the motive behind the killer’s… killings (look, YOU write 200 horror movie reviews in as many days, see how witty you get), is pretty goddamn disturbing and awful. Expectant mothers should decidedly NOT watch this film. I would even go so far as to say it’s the most genuinely horrifying thing I have seen in a horror movie in ages.

The Anchor Bay DVD has a good collection of extras as well. A 20 minute ramble from Argento about his experience on the film, some behind the scenes stuff of Savini at work, and a commentary by Alan Jones that is similar to the Tim Lucas ones on the Mario Bava films, except he sounds like he actually wants to be there (unlike Lucas) and occasionally offers some wonderfully random asides (“I saw Demons with Clive Barker, who looks terrible nowadays”).

In the end, it’s a good place for an Argento virgin to start. While not his strongest film by any means, it’s probably his most accessible. Die hard fans may be turned off by the mostly American cast (it WAS an American production after all) and relative lack of the nightmarish dream logic that permeates his other films, but it’s still a worthy entry in his filmography no matter how much or little you knew about his work beforehand.

And Dario, if you’re reading this: Not that I ever totally understand any of your movies, but this in particular troubled me: Why the ending with the reggae music and dancing girl?

Check out more of BC’s reviews at Horror Movie A Day!

Official Score