[Review] Sweet, Sweet Revenge: Lucio Fulci’s Aenigma

Director: Lucio Fulci | Writer: Lucio Fulci and Giorgio Mariuzzo | Released: September 1, 1988 | Run Time: 1hr 25min

Aenigma quickly became a new favorite in my personal collection. It’s a unique horror film that keeps you interested, making you want to watch it over and over again. I think it has a lot to do with the atmosphere and cinematography. Aenigma isn’t like any other film I’ve ever seen before. Sure, there are a few common tropes sprinkled throughout the film, but Fulci transcends them, making them his own.

Aenigma tries almost too hard to be an American film. It was filmed in Yugoslavia and features local and Italian actors. The film is set in Boston at St. Mary’s, a made-up college. In almost every frame, the viewer is reminded that Aenigma is set in Boston. Almost every character wears a sweater or with “St. Mary’s Boston” printed on the front. Virtually every door and building displays the same information.

Aenigma kicks things off with Kathy (Milijana Zirojevic) getting ready for a big date, while two friends assist her. She’s excited and she wants to look her best. Her date picks her up and they go parking in the woods. It turns out to be a huge prank that goes horribly wrong. While Kathy and her date are making out, four or five cars filled with students turn their lights on and start laughing at her. Kathy jumps out of the car and starts running away from the bullies. The students start chasing after her in their cars. A car ends up hitting Kathy, putting her in a coma.

A few days pass and new girl, Eva (Lara Lamberti), starts school at St. Mary’s. She lets everyone know she’s a bad girl, and that she’s going to hook up with as many boys as possible. Eva meets all of the students who played a prank on Kathy. The students start dying off one by one. It becomes apparent that Kathy and Eva are somehow connected. Every death is accompanied by Kathy’s emotional reaction, even though she’s comatose.

Lucio Fulci’s Aenigma doesn’t contain the gore I expected, but it does deliver some gross and bloody scenes. I thought the film was well-paced, and I loved the car chase scene. The kill scenes were really good. The bed full of roaches made me sick to my stomach. As I was watching the film, I noticed the way the dorm rooms were decorated. There were American flags, Snoopy, James Dean, Yoda, and Top Gun with Tom Cruise posters hanging on the wall. The Tom Cruise poster is actually the focal point of one of the kill scenes, which I thought was cool. I don’t think they got the rights to use the posters.

You can find Lucio Fulci’s Aenigma here.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The spirit of a comatose teenage girl possesses the body of a newcomer to her girls boarding school to enact bloody revenge against the elitist, lingerie-clad coeds responsible for her condition.

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