- Purchase any product from the Film and TV Store sold by Amazon.co.uk and receive £1 to use on any music download in our MP3 Store. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)
Piper Laurie and Brad Dourif supply atypically explosive cameos. The leads are contrastingly subdued for the most part, no doubt because of their characters' involvement with drugs. Asia Argento (the director's daughter) is an anorexic who witnesses her parents' decapitations among a series of similar murders by the notorious "Headhunter". Christopher Rydell plays the ex-junkie who takes her in and helps track down the killer. Backing them up are some even greater performances from Tom Savini's eye-boggling special FX. With the aid of a motorised garrotte, the beheadings are gruesomely real, especially the one that leaves a head still able to talk.
On the DVD: Trauma comes to disc in full 2.35:1 widescreen, though this isn't the clearest of transfers (plenty of artefacts present). The sound is in an unspecified Dolby mix. An interesting selection of extras almost makes up for the lack of a commentary. There are filmographies of Dario and Asia, a gallery of behind-the-scenes stills, and trailers for the movie Phantom of the Opera and several more in this series of releases. More interesting are the text features: interviews with Asia on her memories of the shoot and with renegade horror director Richard Stanley surreally recalling his long-term fandom of everything Argento. Most fascinating, there's a mini-essay on what was cut and why by the BBFC for the original UK video release. --Paul Tonks
The murder weapon is fantastic, for one thing. Basically a rectangular box with a wire loop, it electronically constricts around the neck until the head is severed- needing no strength, and giving the impression of a gruesome inevitability... The murderer is also able to improvise (The device is broken? Why not use the lift for decapitation?) and is psychotic because of a horrifying event, which to some viewers justified the rampage.
So where did this go wrong? Argento is muted. I don't mean that it isn't gory enough, as Argento doesn't need gore to be Argento (it merely helps), but florishing touches are missing, or not quite as evident as elsewhere. There seems to be a curious slackness, a lack of enthusiasm for it all. Perhaps, since it was made in America, Argento felt he should play it safe stylistically. He certainly hasn't shown any eagerness to go back.
Another reservation is the music. Argento's films try above all to provoke an emotional response from the audience- see, again, 'Suspiria' for a superlative soundtrack. But the music here is bland and uninspired- like you'd get on a bad TV movie. And that completely kills any atmosphere Argento builds up.
But- the automatic garrotte! I WANT ONE! I WANT ONE! I WANT ONE!
If you like Argento, go for it. If you don't know him, go for 'Sleepless' or 'Cat O'Nine Tails'. If you don't like him, stay away. This one will do nothing to change your views.