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Now in a coma and because this is a Fulci film, we get to see Cathy's spirit float above a model town (with some leftover model buildings from The New Gladiators I wonder if Fulci kept them in the same cupboard as Jared Martin, who stars in both films). She decides to possess the body of new pupil Eva, who's goal in life is to shag as many men as possible. There's about six other actresses playing pupils in this film but for the life of me I can't remember any of their names.
Eva's first port of call is Fred. Now, he's not in the film long, but he's worth a mention. Fred is the gym teacher for the school, and he loves to date the pupils, slap them on the arse, give them leg massages, tell the pupils that they're fat, and inadvertently cause them to get run over by cars. So Eva sets up a date with him but doesn't quite get there as his reflection comes to life and strangles him, as they tend to do.
Basically, Fulci at some point has watched both Carrie and Patrick and thought "Me too!" Cathy is now possessing Eva, and causing the deaths of all involved in her accident. At one point Eva throws a hissy fit which brings her to the attention of Doctor Jared Martin, who of course is also Cathy's doctor, and they hit it off.
So the rest of the film plays out like you'd expect, with those girls all meeting their demises in various surreal ways (death by snail, death by a statue coming to life in an art gallery after a picture comes to life and stabs itself, raining blood on one of the girls, a run of the mill falling out the window gag), until Eva's family show up suddenly and take her home, causing Jared to go out with yet another one of the girls. This doesn't make Cathy a happy camper.
What surprised me after watching Aenigma was how it wasn't a pile of crap at all. In fact, I quite enjoyed it! Judging by how ill Fulci looks when he makes his usual cameo, I'm surprised he managed to make something that has an actual storyline (see Manhattan Baby for the opposite of this). Sure, it's your run of the mill late era Italian horror, but the snails, art gallery bit and completely original storyline if you haven't seen Patrick make it worth a watch. It's got all the visual trademark's of our Lucio, and looks pretty good in general. The fake heads look faker than usual, but that seems to go with the low budgets. Seriously, see the fake head in Red Monks for a further example of the decline in fake head quality.
Welcome to the 80's world of college-cuties: smoking in dorm-rooms with Sylvester Stallone & Tom Cruise-posters on the wall. The acting's really bad all the time and the sound editing's rather sloppy too. But the directing isn't really too bad. There are a few nice camera-moves and two fine top-shots of the school and the hospital (which do look like miniatures, by the way, but still nice). Are there any more reasons to watch this flick? Well, ehr... maybe: the death-by-snails-scene (kinda gross), the museum-sequence, a decapitation, and... a bizarre sex-scene in a dream with our leading-girl biting chunks out of the love-doctor.
But there isn't much gore actually, considering Lucio Fulci made this. The movie itself never gets really boring due to the deaths and frequently intercut freaky shots of the creepy girl in a coma, but the ending seemed like they just (literally) pulled the plug on this movie. It really hurts me a lot to flunk a Fulci-movie, 'cause I'm a fan of some of his movies. Can't bring myself to give AENIGMA less than 4 stars though, because it still feels like a Fulci-movie. If you're only an average horror-fan, you should avoid this movie 'cause this is for Fulci-fans only.
However, ever since then, Fulci churned out bad film after bad film, and the magic just wasn't there anymore. AENIGMA is one of Fulci's lesser items, a diabolical mixture of the then current slasher trend (something we now view with contempt) with some vague, insubstantial supernatural overtones. AENIGMA begins predictably, with a school prank going wrong (bringing to mind Cropsy's accidental burning in, er, THE BURNING), leaving a strange, bug-eyed girl in a coma. Forget CARRIE, this girl is seriously weird! Just her appearance is enough to send shivers down my spine. From the hospital bed she directs violence (think PATRICK) to those all around her, possessing a 'beautiful' girl and then murdering off the perpetrators of the prank one by one in a string of absurd death scenes. The plot also manages to drag in the setting of SUSPIRIA too, although the girl's school here lacks the atmospheric terror that filled Argento's movie. While Argento filled his school with frightening claustrophobia and nightmarish suspense, Fulci fills his with bad hairdos and horrendous dialogue.
Bookended by bad pop songs (although there is a small bit of nice organ music), full of incredibly cheesy clichéd dialogue of the "what a hunk" kind (all delivered straight-faced, and all the more funny for it) and a prime example of bad film-making - in one instance the screen goes black for more than five seconds in between different scenes, which gives you some idea of the general incompetence all round. The acting is uniformly bad, and nobody, nobody registers on the sympathy scale (always a bad sign, I mean there aren't even any animals to sympathise with here). The only amusing person is the 'retarded' cleaner who bears an uncanny similarity to Martha from THE BEYOND, although I'm sure that's only coincidental. One ageing bloke is apparently irresistible to the girls, once again distancing this film from reality as far as possible.
As usual with these kind of bad pictures, the variety of death scenes is the only reason worth watching this film for. Well, that is if you have to watch it, as it's an experience I wouldn't recommend unless you're a really big fan of horror films and you know what to expect with this one. A gym instructor is killed when his reflection comes out of the mirror in a startlingly original moment (although this brings back horrifying memories of the previous year's AEROBICIDE, and was actually done better in EVIL DEAD 2), while another bloke goes THE BOGEY MAN route of being decapitated by a window (a sight that always cracks me up - seeing an actor with his head stuck through a window, and then the next second a bouncing, rubbery thing which is supposed to be that same guy's bonce bouncing around outside!). A girl falls a short distance and apparently breaks her body, while a doctor has a dream about having sex with a young girl, and then being bitten and scratched to death by her in probably the most hard to stomach moment of the film (literally encapsulating the mix of sex and violence prevalent in the modern horror movie).
In another dream sequence, a girl finds her dorm full of decapitated corpses, while in the most artistic moment of the entire thing, a lost girl in a museum is strangled by a statue which comes to life. Before this, we see a priceless painting bleeding, and this moment is the one, true, creative image in the whole film. The standout death this time around though (obviously inspired by the spider attack in THE BEYOND) is death by snails, totally ludicrous of course, but definitely a first. A girl, asleep on her bed, is enveloped by the sticky slimy snails, and there is something deeply unpleasant with this attack, as it pushes much the same buttons as SQUIRM and SLUGS. Unfortunately, this is the one so-bad-it's-good moment in a mediocre, below average movie. If you want a good Fulci film then go for a zombie one - after all, at least he was liberal with those guys. And don't ask me what the hell the title means either - I have absolutely no idea!
Kathy is a poor Carrie-like who gets humiliated by her "friends" and had a car accident. Her spirit possessed a new schoolgirl and gets his revenge of the bad guys !
The first 10 minutes are hilarious (especially the song "Head over Meels"...with that "Dream come true...")... The rest of the film is like a TV movie, quite boring and absolutely not scary... Don't miss the appearance of the ghost on a Tom Cruise poster... Anyway, it's a great film to watch with friends, beer, pizzas...
The french dubbing sounds to be made very quickly, Kathy's voice sounds like a man !!!
In a very CARRIE-like opening sequence, Kathy (Dragan Bjelogrlic) is transformed from ugly duckling to... 1930s prostitute. She's soon humiliated by her peers and winds up in an accident that results in her becoming a permanent vegetable. She then leaves her body and possesses Eva (Lara Naszinsky), a new student with daddy issues who helps (?) get revenge on the people who scorned Kathy.
Though Fulci has his patented visual flair, the film screams turkey and seems rife for a MST3K treatment. I'm not usually one to mock the screen, but I couldn't help myself with this movie. The biggest problem is that the story and dialogue (or at least the English dubbing) are laughably absurd, yet the actors are playing it straight. It reminds me of an Ed Wood film that's completely oblivious to its own badness. My condolences to the cast, who made the best of what they were given. The film is set in the USA (posters of Tom Cruise, Sly Stallone, Yoda and Snoopy adorn dorm walls), but little care was put into researching American dorm life, and absolutely no care was put into researching medical facilities and jargon. The effects are terrible almost across the board. The three exceptions are a creepy mirror scene, an erotic sex scene that takes a nasty turn and a death-by-snail sequence that's uncomfortably well played (though still ridiculous). Unfortunately, a later scene with a menacing snake wasn't as effective -- we cut from silly reaction shots to inserts of a snake slithering across the floor. Ooga-booga. Then this scene goes from dopey to unintentionally hilarious. To top it all off, it's unclear WHY Kathy possesses Eva. Eva doesn't actually kill anyone (unless she did during one of the numerous times when my mind started wandering) and Kathy never actively takes over her body. I could've choked down a specter-like out of body experience, but the possession seems completely pointless.
There are only three instances when I'd recommend this film. First, if you're gonna have a big party and are looking for a film to mock while you and your friends get hammered. Second, if you're looking for a textbook example of how NOT to write a story. And third, if you're a die-hard Fulci fan. If you're looking for a scary movie or under any other circumstances, beware. Get one of Fulci's earlier horror movies instead.
Sounds great for Fulci fans, but don't hold your breath. The various revenge murders are all very unimpressive and often ridiculous, including death by being scared of a museum and death by being confronted with a boyfriend's corpse! What's wrong with these people!? The film has no highlights of gore whatsoever, which is a major shortcoming in a Fulci film. Even it's set piece murder, a "death by snails" sequence will probably leave you laughing (how exactly do snails manage to overpower someone??). This, along with the film's title, makes me think that Fulci is actually trying to emulate Argento's far superior "Phenomeona".
The film is generally pretty confusing, as Kathy's power, and her hold over the possessed girl are never properly explained. The acting is awful, the lead character (the possessed student) wanders around looking totally bored, so you won't really care about any of the characters. It's also ugly and dull to look at, even though Fulci tries to ape Argento yet again by bathing many shots in lurid coloured lighting, mostly a tiresome bright blue, but it just doesn't add up to anything coherent. The dubbing is poor as usual ans there's a really REALLY, bad ballad being crooned over the prologue when Kathy is looking forward to her big night out! Even Fulci completists could rest easy without ever watching this one. A real stinker.
When Eva is sent away after too many violent temper tantrums and rebellious-type behavior(said to perhaps effect the other female students, in a negative was, that attend the St. Mary's Boston college), her lover Anderson starts a relationship with Jenny(Ulli Reinthaler). The doc sure loves the student body..yuk, yuk. So we see the wrath of Eva/Kathy, who escapes from her asylum home, as she confronts Jenny attempting to find Anderson's office. Will Jenny escape where others failed? While I'll be the first to admit that this flick makes little sense whatsoever, it sure has the same visual energy Fulci had a talent for expressing even with the hokiest of story-lines. The bizarre nature of the crimes against the victims is enough(..although most aren't that gory)to warrant at least one viewing. Good electronic score. Hilarious dated foot-note..you'll notice lots of posters featuring popular heroes and movies at that time(Tom Cruise/Top Gun poster, Sly Stallone/Rocky III poster, etc)in the 80's, I'm guessing Fulci added to give his Italian flick a more "American feel."
Kathy's mother, the maid of St. Mary's, seems to have a red glow in her eyes and she plays a heavy role in either stopping the carnage or letting it continue. Either way, she understands that her beloved daughter is on the rampage.
This film is the pits (sorry old chap!) its like some cheap unimaginative- for the bucks only- US commercial horror movie! (bearing in mind that some of the greatest horror films of all time have been American, of course!) I liked Cat in the Brain, Murder Rock Dancing death- both lesser movies in his cannon... but this! watch it by all means as part of the Fulci course; but I found it a profound disappointment.
The only thing in this films defence is the style of direction- that unmistakable Italian va va voom is present even in this shoddy affair... its rubbish- but its Italian rubbish! (Fulci still shows his flare... by way of an apology!)
Donald C. Willis described the film as a "episodic horror-fantasy variation on 'Carrie' by way of 'Patrick' and 'The Medusa Touch'" and that the "heavy-handed intro" makes the film get "off to a bad start". He forgot "Slugs", though this film is nastier than "Slugs" and may be worth watching for that very reason.
The interesting thing is how this is a Yugoslavian film. What? I feel like that deserves more of an explanation. I know that Romania was popular for a while to film on the cheap, but you rarely hear about Yugoslavia. What was Fulci doing there?
"Aenigma" is not one of the late, great Lucio Fulcis' best (it's sad to see him looking ill in his obligatory cameo appearance as a police inspector). It lacks the true overwhelming doom and gloom of his best nonsensical horror films. Mostly, it's good for laughs, although it's nice to see that Fulci hadn't lost his flair for lots of gore in his murder sequences. The plot, as you can see, is trite stuff, but a few memorable set pieces help to lift it out of the ordinary. For one thing, a stone statue comes to life. But the best and (rightly) most notorious scene involves a multitude of snails. The pounding rock music calls to mind the work of Fulcis' peer Dario Argento, while the amount of atmosphere is certainly respectable.
The cast is all good looking, but they're all just a little too bland. Lamberti is passable, but also forgettable.
An Italian / Yugoslavian co-production, this was filmed on location in both Boston and Serbia.
Six out of 10.
In the snails' unforgettably daft scene, a girl awakens to find herself smothered by the slow-moving molluscs, who ultimately suffocate the poor lass, covering her from head to foot in slime. It's just one bad moment out of many bad moments in a very bad film.
Ænigma opens with a young woman named Kathy (Milijana Zirojevic) excitedly preparing for a date (with the help of her friends) by selecting a nasty red dress and plastering on her make-up like a clown. Once ready for her night of romance (gold eyelidscheck!; red cheekscheck!; hideous hairstylecheck!), the girl rushes to the door to meet her lucky beau.
Later that night, the couple park in a remote spot for a bit of canoodling. Kathy soon gets into the mood, and begins to moan loudly and writhe in pleasure, much to the delight of the small crowd of onlookers hiding in the bushes. Yes, Kathy is the subject of a mean school prank: the guy she is getting all gooey over doesn't really go for the minging clown look; he's only with the poor lass in order to humiliate her in front of his pals.
Realising the truth, Kathy runs away in tears, only to be hit by a car, ultimately ending up in intensive care.
Meanwhile, at the exclusive boarding school where Kathy lived with her mother, new student Eva Gordon (Lara Naszinsky) is getting used to her new environment. However, fitting in with the other girls might not prove to be easy, since Eva is being telepathically controlled by Kathy, who is looking to even the score with her bullies...
I get the distinct feeling that, with this particular film, Fulci was attempting a more stylish approach than usual:Ænigma is rather restrained in the gore department, and the boarding school setting and general ambiance is very reminiscent of the work of giallo genius Dario Argento. Unfortunately, Fulci is not quite in the same league as Argento when it comes to creating stunning visuals and a dreamlike atmosphere, and the result is a rather bland and unmemorable effort that leaves one longing for some yucky eyeball trauma or a bit of messy brain scrunching to spice things up.
The story, a weak mix of elements stolen from several much better films, doesn't make much sense (no explanation is given for how Kathy can conjure up snails and, in one equally silly scene, animate a marble statue), and the majority of the cast is pretty lousy. The only recognisable name in the film (recognisable to fans of low-budget trash, I mean) is B-movie star Jared Martin who is totally wasted in his role as a neurologist (although he does get to roll around naked with a lightly-oiled Naszinsky, which would be a fair enough reason for taking the gig!).
Ænigma is one for Fulci fans who, like me, have seen all of his better known films already and are now just ticking off the other titles from his filmography for the sake of completion.
Fulci does well with the atmosphere in the film, and the cinematography is rather nice also. As you would expect from a director who made his name with a whole load of blood and guts, there is no shortage of death scenes in this film. These scenes range from featuring severed limbs to gratuitous stabbings, but strangely enough; these scenes feel rushed and Fulci doesn't deliver a great deal of gore, which is probably the main reason why this film doesn't often get a very good write-up. Lucio Fulci has a bigger filmography than you would think, and many of his lesser known films - such as The Devil's Honey and Don't Torture a Duckling turn out to be his best. This film, however, is one of the director's more average efforts on the whole. I don't think Fulci really cared too much about the supernatural angle of the story, and so the film has ended up being disjointed and illogical. The acting and dialogue does nothing to alter this fact, as both are poor even for an Italian horror film. To be honest, I don't rate Aenigma as a complete dead loss; although it should be noted that I'm more tolerant of Fulci's films than most.
After the awesome gore-fest movies in the early 80's (The Beyond, Zombie, New York Ripper, House by the Cemetery) it went downhill with the Italian master. "Aenigma" isn't scary but rather hilariously stupid with a weak cast and a dull and stupid story, inspired by the classic "Carrie". For the fans it's all disappointment here: there's hardly any gore or blood to be seen. After the "Snails-scene" you have hope but that average scene appeared to be the best of the entire movie. It could be worse (a year later Fulci directed the god awful "Sodoma's Ghost") but this is not really worth a look. I saw it and I will never watch it again. Stick with the earlier classics, this is totally forgettable.
OK to kill you all, some lyrics from the intro song (head over heels): Put on your makeup your eyes are blue enough tonight is special for you you're gonna see that dream come true put on your red dress
you gotta look your best tonight is waiting for you he's gonna make that dream come true you've got that feeling deep inside loving the first time in your life falling head over heels and you just can't stop falling into the arms of a lover falling over head over heels baby from the top and you hope it will go on forever!
* 1/2 (out of 4)
Italian horror from Fulci is his spin on the CARRIE-type tale. The film takes place at a female boarding school where one of the unpopular girls has a prank played on her, which leaves her in a coma. Soon after that a new girl enters the school and becomes possessed with the coma girl's spirit, which leaves to revenge. This is one of the director's least known films and there's probably a reason for that. Considering that it's not very good and that it came towards the end of the Italian horror craze, it's no wonder the movie has been forgotten over the past couple decades. This film should be remembered somewhat better just because of some of the horrid death sequences, which are the real reason to watch this film. There's not too much gore but we get an incredibly bizarre sex scene where our hero eats away at her lover. If that wasn't strange enough we get perhaps the dumbest death sequence in Fulci career and that's the scene where a girl just lays in bed while snails kill her. Yes, snails. The other death scenes are pretty generic, although Fulci does wrap them up in a nice atmosphere and one sequence inside a museum works pretty well. There's a subplot involving the new girl dating the coma girl's doctor but this just drags things down. The performances aren't anything special but they're not too bad either. In other words, typical Italian stuff. If someone is new to Fulci then they shouldn't start here but if you must watch everything the guy made then jump right in.
Overall, a 4/10 because of a rape-by-snail scene. Come on Lucio, more gore PLEASE!