Monday, November 29, 2010


(Lucio Fulci, 1987)
What do you get when you mix equal parts Aussie horror flick "Patrick" and Argento's Phenomena, and add a bucket of snails? Yup. Aenigma, Fulci's *ahem* ode to Dario Argento (and I use that term loosely).
The film starts tenderly enough with some easy listening music and a brief montage of a young couple helping their friend Cathy get ready for her big night out. We know it's her big night as the lyrics in the opening song say so. It hurts already, but we'll get through. It turns out her "friends" have set her up for a night of humiliation, one that accidentally leaves Cathy in a coma.
Though unable to speak or move, Cathy somehow develops some nifty supernatural powers, and possesses St Mary's College's new student, Eva (Lara Naszinski). Through Eva she enacts her revenge on the other students, and does them in in various creative, albeit nonsensical, ways (ie: animating artwork, creating a clone from someone's reflection, and of course the infamous "Death By Snails" sequence, one that may well leave the viewer in tears!)
As I said before, Aenigma is a Fulci version of the superior Dario Argento film Phenomena, nonsensical and far-fetched as that title is. Eva's arrival at the school, the mentioning of her previous psychiatric problems, and the girls' getting caught smoking (not to mention a teacher who looks like she walked right off Argento's set) are just audacious in their mimicry. Even the soundtrack by Carlo Maria Cordio alternates between soft, synthy nature music and thrashy heavy metal!
On the plus side, some of Argentos better qualities must have rubbed off on Fulci as this is easily one of his best-looking films of the 80s. He made good use of crane shots, colored gel lighting (in blue and green), and his compositions seem more mature than in previous works. It's a pity he didn't have much of a story to work with. In all, I'd leave this until you've seen Fulci's better (earlier) work, and of course, after you've seen Phenomena. Second hand copies may still be purchased here.

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