Lucio Fulci's output has been very much varied even within the horror genre throughout hi lengthy genre career, and with 'Aenigma' he diverts from his usual staple of fantastic gothic splatter to make an attempt at a strange hybrid of Stephen King's 'Carrie' by way of Dario Argento stylings.
The film opens at St Mary's school for girls with the films very own Italian Spacek going on a date with her school's hunky gym teacher.She can't believe here luck and as she swoons with delight in his arms she realises that her class mates are all watching laughing at her expense as she's been the victim of a tasteless school prank. Running away in distress she flees into th path of a passing car and ends up in a deep coma hovering between life and death.
Cut to some time later and we discover that St Mary's waste no time whatsoever filling vacant beds with the arrival mid term of sassy young Eva, an instantly popular lass with the rest of the superficial teen femmes. Wasting no time, Eva makes plans for an evening of passion with the equally interested gym teacher from the intro sequence but before she can get her wicked way with him he is strangled to death by his own reflection (in the same style that Bruce Campbell successfully managed to avoid in Evil Dead's sequel). The police (sans a cameo appearance by Fulci himself) though believe that he has been victim of nothing more than a simple heart attack but as they will in time find when the body count rises there's a lot more than meets the eye.
The concerning thing with the growing number of deaths is that each of the victims believe they are suffering some sort of wildly bizarre violent scenario (including the now infamous snail assault) but when their bodies are found with no signs of untoward violence we realise that there's more than the simple revenge scenario going down here. Surely it can't be the work of the intro's prank victim, well she's now fully comatose? Could it be the sallow skinned house maid that scorns the wealthy student girls? Or could it be the work of newcomer Eva or something far more mysterious and supernatural?
While by no means the best of his work, 'Aenigma' is an interesting attempt by Fulci to dabble in another successful style of genre horror movie. Taking the simple ugly duckling revenge scenario that was massively successful for De Palma in 'Carrie' and trying to imitate (albeit not so successfully) it in the style of Argento he has delivered a curiosity that will inevitably be of great interest mainly to fans of his work. But it is also this simplistic plagiarism that will put off some viewers less tolerant and the fact that with 'Aenigma' he has chosen to shift away from the usual gory overdose mayhem and replace this with mainly fantastic less bloody scenarios. That said, knowing Fulci's loyal legion of fans (myself included) they'll simply 'need' to have this in their collection.
The print on show here from new Italian company 'Horror Club' (aka Minerva Pictures) is simply gorgeous and I doubt looks better in any other edition available. The anamorphic 1:1.85 image is sharp, colourful and flawless from beginning to end, lovely stuff indeed. The audio and subtitling options will definitely peak the interest of fans also as here we not only get audio options of English, French or Italian (ok it's mono but it's clear and problem free throughout) and even a new 5.1 Italian surround track. But why would you care about these Italian audio options? Well, there's some nice optional English subtitling on offer so Fulci fetishists that have only ever known the film with the English track can enjoy checking out the Italian variation happily like his home country compatriots did when it screened there originally. Who cares some may say, but if I know Fulci fans then they'll enjoy this nice option being available.
Now onto the extra features - first up is the usual expected text biography section on the great mans life and work. And whilst this is indeed an Italian release you again get th welcome option of reading this section in either English or Italian (though of course what Fulci freak will need to read this well noted information anymore anyway?) Also on show is a brief stills gallery section and this is probably the only feature that will disappoint as it simply comprises of what looks to be a selection of screen grabs from the feature itself - it would have been nice to have had some actual promo material on show here, Finally (and perhaps best of all) is th excellent three minute Italian trailer for the film itself which makes it look like a true horror classic by utilising some of th key death scenes, Argentoesque shots and thumping gothic keyboard theme.
As I mentioned earlier' 'Aenigma' is by no means one of Fulci's greatest movies but at the some time it's by no means his worst either. Hard core Fulci fans will be very happy with this very impressive presentation by the folk at Horror Club in Italy and this should make folk very curious to see what other delights they reanimate for our perusal in the future. Nice one - check it out!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Horror Club/Minerva|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|Ratio - 1:1.85 (16:9)|
|Audio - Optional Italian 5.1 Surround or English/Italian/French Mono|
|Subtitles - Optional English or Italian|
|Theatrical Trailer, Filmography, Stills Gallery|