Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trauma (1993)

It's a pity Piper Laurie (who's fantastic here) and Frederic Forrest (who's worse than ever) never bothered to see Dario Argento's Trauma, because it's a very fine piece of giallo-cinema. I would say it's even underrated (it's a dangerous word, I know). It might be a little bit colder and calculated than some of Argento's earlier movies, but still has his trademarks: fluent camera, wicked characters and brutal killings.

The Headhunter is terrorizing the city. He or she is sawing the heads of innocent (yeah, sure!) victims all around the city and taking them as souvenirs. Christopher Rydell plays a cartoonist (is that a real word?) at a TV-station and one day he saves a young woman (Asia Argento) from killing herself. Soon it's clear that she's somehow connected to the headhunter, and after her parents being brutally killed our hero tries to figure out why this is happening and how she is involved in this...

Oh, that was a very simple retelling of the story. It's actually quite complex and involves many characters and a damn fine storyline that people seem to forget. It's probably one of Argento's best stories since... Deep Red, and has several nods in that direction too. Christopher Rydell, a fine actors, is a bit pale in the lead and we never gets under his skin like the other male heroes in Argento's movies, but Asia's characters works better. Piper Laurie is the best, a classic mother-character from Argento's universe, while Frederic Forrest seem to treat his role as a joke and seem to want to destroy every take he's in. Very childish. In a smaller role we also have Brad Dourif, and he's good as usual, even if his part hardly is especially meaty for an actor of his range. 

I want to talk more about the story. The script is brilliant, but more mainstream and laid-back. The dialogue comes of a bit stiff (like in all his movies), but everything leads to something and there is not much unnecessary stuff to watch. People do what they expect to do, and the murder-set-pieces is wonderful, but not so gory or graphic. It's said a lot was left on the cutting room floor. I also love the main "thing" with the movie, that small detail that so easily can reveal the killer - like in Deep Red and Bird with the Crystal Plumage, but works good because of the editing and lightning. It surprised me the first time I saw the movie, and was a perfect red herring away from who the real killer is.

What don't work is Tom Savini's terrible, terrible effects. I will dream nightmares about those plastic, ugly, unrealistic heads. Like something from a Troma-movie. Not that he's the best effects-guy out there (I'm only impressed by four movies he worked on: Friday 1 and 4, The Prowler and Day of the Dead - the rest is more or less mediocre) and probably got is reputation as a master from being involved in some very graphic horror movies. What Trauma needs is a Stivaletti or De Rossi!

Trauma is a fine and intelligent giallo that suffers from bad effects by Tom Savini and that awful idea to put a fucking reggae-band in the end credits (the fuck came up with that idea? I hope it wasn't Dario himself, but one of the producers - because it takes away the power of the ending). But if you forget those things, it's one of Argento's best work during the later part of his career.

5 comments:

Jack J said...

I guess when Dario phoned Tom up and in Italian English said "ai'mma mak'a a film'a call'led Trauma, Tom thought he did say Troma. LMAO.

davidfullam said...

I love this film. Particularly moving for me is that song "Ruby Rain." My only complaint, Frederic Forrest. Yes, is surprisingly weak in this film.

daniel said...

Savinis work in F13 part 4 isn't too shabby imo. but you have a point.

Ninja Dixon said...

Daniel, I meant part 4 - he didn't do the effects for part 3! Sorry, my mistake!

Ninja Dixon said...

And Jack, that was quite funny! :)