The Italian film industry had a few decades of box office success, producing movies at will. Spaghetti western, exploitation and horror films were churned out as if they came from an assembly line. Towards the end of the 1980’s though, the Italian box office began to take a nose dive. Rising production costs hindered the amount of films that would be funded. Movie goers took to Hollywood blockbusters instead of Italian made films. Soon, the ‘film factory’ that was Italian cinema began to die away.
When Italian horror films come up in conversation, a few directors come to mind. Mario and Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, Ruggero Deodato and Lucio Fulci. To me, the latter easily stands out among the rest. Not to take anything away from the other directors, they all have superb films to their credit. Fulci though, has always intrigued me with his films. Always pushing the envelope, to do something different from before. Many have dubbed him ‘The Italian Godfather of Gore’, it would be hard to live up to those standards, time and time again. So today, we’re diving into a film that was released in the midst of the decline of Italian cinema as we knew it. Does he live up to those standards with Aenigma?
The story begins when an unfortunate accident happens to Kathy. She was being bullied by her classmates and as happenstance, they took it way too far. As she was fleeing from her embarrassment, Kathy is hit by a speeding car, leaving her in a comatose state. Fast forward a few weeks, new girl Eva enrolls at the all-girl preparatory school. We soon realize that Kathy’s spirit has entered Eva to exact her revenge on the elitist uppity girls that bullied her that dreadful night.
Let’s face it. Lucio Fulci is one of my favorite directors of all time. Zombie and The Gates of Hell Trilogy, ALONE are enough to solidify his impact on the horror genre. But towards the end of Fulci’s filming career, much like the state of Italian cinema at the time, his films began going downhill. Aenigma is not his worst, but it is a far cry from his best.
The film just felt off. It had odd pacing and wasn’t very cohesive. There was no direction of the characters. I didn’t give a shit about the characters. Honestly they were bitches. So it was truly fulfilling when they met their maker.
That was the film’s saving grace, the kill scenes. Most intriguing kill was death by snails. Yeah you read that correctly. SNAILS. But I’m not going to continue to go on and on about the film’s problems. It still has Fulci’s signature style. Brooding, ominous imagery. Sleek and sexy. I do believe he kept up with his gore standards on this one. If you like Italian horror movies, it’s still watchable.
I liked it. Did I like it because Lucio Fulci directed it? YES. Would I have liked it had someone else directed this? PROBABLY. That is about the best summation I can give.
TRAILER TIMEY TIME!
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