‘A new vision of terror’
Trauma is a 1993 Italian giallo horror film directed by Dario Argento, starring Asia Argento, Piper Laurie, Christopher Rydell and Brad Dourif.
Shot in and around Minneapolis, United States in late 1992 on a budget of $7 million, Trauma is notable as Italian director Dario Argento’s first feature-length American production. Adapting the treatment devised by Gianni Romoli and long-time Argento collaborator Franco Ferrini, Argento chose T.E.D. Klein as his co-writer.
Special effects technician Tom Savini, who had previously worked on Two Evil Eyes, was recruited to produce the film’s extensive gore and prosthetic effects. Savini also created the film’s central murder weapon, dubbed the ‘Noose-o-Matic’ by the crew. Savini devised a number of elaborate effects, but they were scrapped when Argento decided to minimise his trademark gore; according to Savini, “edge-of-the-seat suspense is what he was after”.
An anorexic young woman escapes from a psychiatric clinic and meets a young man who wants to help. She is caught and returned to her parents, who are soon beheaded by a garrotting stranger making the rounds about town, apparently striking only when it rains. The orphaned young woman and her new lover launch their own investigation and are endangered when a link is discovered with the victims and a particular operation performed years before…
“Unsurprisingly, the combination of oddball characters, a typically barmy plot and over-the-top visuals meant that Trauma failed to find its intended mainstream audience. But let’s face it, no matter how hard he tried, Dario Argento simply couldn’t deliver a crossover movie and that’s why his attempt to try something a little radical needs to be given another chance.” Adrian Luther-Smith, Art of Darkness: The Cinema of Dario Argento, edited by Chris Gallant, FAB Press, 2001
“Trauma is definitely worth a look if you’re an Argento fan. The mystery is genuinely intriguing in the true giallo sense and the feeling of uneasiness is suitably enhanced by Pino Donaggio’s intermittently brilliant soundtrack, making Trauma feel at times very Lynchian. It’s quite pacey and doesn’t tend to drag its heels but there’s definitely a sense of something not weighing in as it should.” Eat My Brains
“In its exposé of American soullessness as a product of a “wound culture” that substitutes pop psychological diagnoses for interrogation of gender inequities and real social lack, Argento’s Trauma makes beheading a metaphor for contemporary life.” Kinoeye
” …Trauma wasn’t well received at the time but I believe it suffered from too much hype on something that a lot of Americans don’t understand…the Giallo. It is a fine thriller and one of the last times a master was in charge of an American horror film … It’s not laziness, it’s his style. This Argento film really is a film best decided by personal taste and the hope that yours is in tune with his.” Sinful Celluloid