Trauma (1993)

One of two movies that Argento directed outside of Italy — Two Evil Eyes is the other — and he chose American writer T. E. D. Klein to write the script. Instead of the familiar Rome that we’ve seen in so many giallo, we’re in Minneapolis.

Tom Savini created the effects, but Argento decided to make the movie about more suspense and less blood and guys. He did invent the killer’s unique weapon, which the crew called the “Noose-o-Matic.”

Aura (Asia Argento, in a role based on her half-sister Dana, who sadly died in a scooter accident not long after this movie was made) escapes from the mental hospital where she’s under treatment for anorexia. She meets a man named David who lets her stay with him, but she’s soon taken back to the hospital. There, staff members keep getting decapitated by a killer named The Headhunter. And before you know it, her parents are killed as well, sending Aura and David after the real killers.

The actual murder plot here is pretty convoluted and that’s saying something for Argento. Props to him, though, for getting Piper Laurie in this as Aura’s psychic mother and Brad Dourif as a doctor with a past connected to the murders. He also got Frederick Forrest for this and for that, he and Laurie would sit and laugh at how bad they thought that the movie was during each day’s shoot.

Sadly, this movie is missing something. Could a score by Goblin instead of Pinal Donaggio have helped? More gore? Less recycling the past and more of a look toward the future? Or maybe a script that made more sense?

Still, it’s Argento, who has a great movie still in him. We hope for it and we look for it within every effort, hoping that this is the time that he delivers. Then again, how many directors have made at least three bonafide classic films and a few really close ones? I’ll watch everything he makes and keep that same hope.

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