Trauma Dario Argento

Trauma, Dario Argento's 1993 whodunit?, will always hold a place in cinematic history as the Italian suspense master's one and only attempt at breaking into the Hollywood mainstream. And revisiting the film a dozen years after its release, it's easy to understand why he was never able to catch that elusive break. Marking a return to the giallo style that got him dubbed "the Italian Hitchcock," Trauma is one of Argento's more overly stylised and narratively convoluted efforts. Casting his then-teenage daughter Asia in the role of an anorexic runaway who befriends a former drug addict (Christopher Rydell) set against the backdrop of a series of grizzly murders, Argento tries to reinvent the kind of movie that worked on European audiences with largely unspectacular results. Having abandoned the thriller genre in favour of more supernatural outings like Suspiria and Tenebrae in the 1980s, it was almost like he was trying to make up for lost time with this film. But it's a confused and tragically grim Psycho knock off. This restored DVD, available for the first time as a North American release, puts back some of the violence that was cut for domestic markets and in that way makes it a little more faithful to its Eurocentric roots. But it's not the kind of restoration that makes the picture any less flawed. What puts the film in a little more perspective are the bonus materials, including a featurette, deleted scenes and some home video footage shot by effects guru Tom Savini. An outstanding and enlightening audio commentary by Argento friend, confidant and biographer Alan Jones leads us to believe that perhaps the film wasn't meant to be taken as seriously as it was presented. We also learn that in 1992, James Spader, John Cusack and Tim Roth all allegedly turned down the Rydell role because of concerns over the character's drug use. It couldn't possibly have been because of the hackneyed script, could it? (Anchor Bay)