FULCI WEEK: Aenigma (1987)

When will young kids learn that you can’t pull murderous pranks without supernatural reprisals? Take the girls of St. Mary’s College, for example. They set up skinny, unattractive Kathy with Fred Vernon, that hunk of a gym teacher. But it’s all a trick — the minute Kathy starts jumping Fred’s bones, cars surround them and begin flashing their lights and honking their horns. Kathy runs from the embarrassment directly into the path of an oncoming car.

Now, Kathy is stuck in a coma while her weird mother, Mary, cleans the school and mopes. A new student, Eva, arrives and meets all of the girls. But Eva is possessed by Kathy and here to get revenge, starting with Mr. Vernon. While he styles and profiles in front of a mirror in preparation for a date with Eva, his own reflection strangles himself. The next morning, a police detective (hello, Lucio Fulci!) states that he died of a heart attack. Virginia, the next victim, is killed by snails (oh Fulci!). And every time someone is killed — or Eva suffers trauma — Kathy’s body reacts.

Dr. Robert Anderson notices. And he also notices Eva, who takes him on a date and seduces him. But their relationship is super intense, including dreams where Eva basically fucks him to death. Luckily, Eva’s mom takes her home and he can start dating Jenny, the only girl who has any remorse for what happened to Kathy.

And the other girls? Glad you asked. One of them is killed by a marble statue come to life! And Eva makes Kim see visions of her boyfriend being decapitated, ending by shoving her out a window. The camera pauses on a poster of Tom Cruise in Top Gun for no reason at all! And then Kim’s boyfriend is decapitated, with his severed head landing next to his girlfriend’s dead body! Fulci, you’ve gone and done it again!

At the hospital, Jenny meets the doctor for a late night date. However, she gets lost in the building and ends up confronting Evain the morgue. A battle ensues between the doctor and Eva, who suddenly falls to the floor, dead. Why? Turns out that Karen’s mother has finally pulled the plug, sending Kathy’s soul to Heaven.

Aenigma is not Fulci’s best work. But even his middling efforts — save some of his much later films — have something interesting within them. This pastiche of Carrie is a fine time waster. Just don’t expect it to be on the level of past glories.

You can find this at Diabolik DVD, along with all your Fulci needs.

UPDATE: It’s also streaming on Amazon Prime!

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