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Trauma (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Trauma (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: November 26th, 2021.
    Director: Dario Argento
    Cast: Christopher Rydell, Asia Argento, Piper Laurie, Frederic Forest, Laure Johnson, Brad Dourif
    Year: 1993
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Trauma - Movie Review:

    David Parson (Christopher Rydell), simply by chance, stumbles upon and prevents a girl named Aura Petrescu (Asia Argento) from jumping off a bridge and ending her life. She ends up being brought back to her parents, Adriana (Piper Laurie) and Stefan (Dominique Serrand). Shortly after, a maniac running around Minneapolis decapitating people murders her parents. She and David team up and through a few odd coincidences and try and figure out who's been doing the killing and why. He seems to kill only when it rains, and there does in fact seem to be a link between all of the victims.

    Trauma has a bad rap among horror movie fans, at least when compared to undisputed classics of the genre like director Dario Argento's earlier films such as Suspiria and Bird With The Crystal Plumage. While it's true that this film from 1993 never approaches the levels of suspense and weirdness that some of his better received films have, it does have its moments and there is more than enough to like about Trauma to ensure that it is worth checking out.

    As usual, the visuals are nice and the cinematography, while not as flamboyant as his European films have tended to be, is still quite slick. Some nice fluid camera movements, such as the scene where the camera pans from one window to the next with such precision that you barely notice the movement at all, keeps the movie looking good even when the story is a little weak. The architecture in the film in particularly in nicely photographed and there's some really impressive, almost painterly lighting on display at times.

    Some of the director's trademarks are noticeable in a few scenes as well, making it a fun if not unfamiliar ride for seasoned fans of his work. The black gloved killer is omnipresent, and the use of primary color gels in the lighting is always a welcome touch in his work, and there are similarities here to some of the ideas that were explored, albeit more effectively and creatively, in his earlier giallo classic Deep Red.

    With none other than Tom Savini at the helm of the film's special effects it's a safe assumption that they'd be handled well. Sadly, that's not really the case and the severed neck set pieces make use of some obvious plastic looking props. It's certainly not Savini's best work on display here, but it's still pretty fun to see even if it is imperfect. The killings are fairly strong by mainstream standards but do come across as rather subdued; at least in comparison to some of Argento's other films. Sure, the decapitations are an interesting idea and although sometimes less can be more, it would have been nice to see him really cut loose. The movie never quite gets to the point where it feels like that happened.

    Performances are reasonably good here, with a young Asia Argento showing some talent in front of the camera even this early in her career. It's always fun when Brad Dourif shows up at the table and that's what he does in a cameo role that, if you're not paying attention, is easy to miss - especially if you're only familiar with him from something like the Lord Of The Rings films as he looks completely different in this film. Piper Laurie and Frederic Forest are also really entertaining in their respective supporting roles, and on top of that we get a decent score from Pino Donaggio.

    Trauma - Blu-ray Review:

    Trauma makes is presented on region free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taking up 32.7GBs of space on a 50GB disc. Primarily scanned and restored in 4k from its 35mm Interpositive, there is a disclaimer at the start noting that they didn't have access to film materials for a few brief segments and for those segments an older HD master had to be used. There are small but noticeable dips in quality when these segments occur. Those few scenes being the exception, overall this transfer looks excellent. Colors are reproduced very nicely and for a movie that spends a lot of time indoors in the dark, we get nice shadow details as well. Skin tones look great and there are no issues with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression problems.

    The only audio option for this release is a 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track. Dialogue stays clean and clear. There are no audible problems with any hiss or distortion and the score has some really impressive depth here. Sound effects don't overpower you but they hit when and where they need to, especially during the murder set pieces. No problems here at all. Optional English subtitles SDH are provided.

    Note that in the supplements section. Vinegar Syndrome has included the video workprint version of the movie that features several extended scenes and runs 1:52:48 compared to the feature version at 1:49:37. It's presented in an AVC encoded 480i presentation with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, there are no subtitles included for this cut.

    As far as the rest of the extras go, we get a new commentary track from the guys at The Hysteria Continues! podcast. They talk about their feelings on the film, noting that it's a bit underrated compared to some of Argento's other films, whether or not the film is a slasher or a giallo, Argento's penchant for staging almost all of his material in urban environments, how the picture compares to some of his other pictures, the connections to Macbeth, problems that plagued the production while it was being made, the use of gore in the picture, where Argento's career was at this point, how Asia Argento's star was beginning to rise at the time the movie was made, thoughts on the different actors that appear in the picture, a lot of the eccentricities that appear in Argento's movies and lots more.

    A second commentary features film historian and author Alexandra Heller-Nichols who talks about the film's bad reputation as lesser Argento, Argento's other works in the nineties, the depiction of sociology in the picture, the gender politics in the picture, parallels to Deep Red that are apparent in Trauma, whether or not Argento was selling out with this film, notes on the major players involved with the picture, her thoughts on the score and why she feels it doesn't fit and quite a bit more.

    Beheaded is an interview with Dario Argento that runs twenty-four minutes. He speaks here about how he learned about anorexia and an event in Nathanial Hawthorne's home and how these things influenced the movie. He also goes over his trip to Salem and how that impacted things, writing the film with two friends, why he shot it in the United States, the importance of the theme of love to the movie, shooting his daughter's topless scene in the film, how he got along with some of the other cast members like Piper Laurie, the complexities of the editing process, Donaggio's score and more.

    Effects Above The Rest interviews Tom Savini for eighteen minutes. He talks about the importance of not letting the camera linger on a fake head for too long, how he never got to meet Argento during the making of Dawn Of The Dead even though they were both on set, working with him on Two Evil Eyes, having him over to his house to watch Ben Hur, his appreciation for Argento as a visual stylist, what went into creating some of the grislier effects that were required for Trauma, having to cast molds of different actors' heads and lots more. He also shows off some of the fake heads that were made that he still has, including one of his girlfriend at the time!

    Writer Franco Ferrini is up next in Female Hamlet, which runs seventeen minutes. He talks about how Argento approached him to write the film with him and was initially unable to do it. From there, he talks about details of the characters in the movie, how the idea of basing the film around an anorexic character came to be, research that was required to make this work, comparisons between this Trauma and Phenomena and how this is the first Argento movie to have a true love story in it.

    In Ruby Wain we hear from composer Pino Donaggio for fifteen minutes about how he came to collaborate with Argento on this picture, how having to create the music for the film with some budgetary limitations affected the score, what Argento was like to work with and how he knew what he wanted for the score, working some Celtic influences into the music, trying to link the music in the film to certain movements on screen and his thoughts on the performances in the film and the film overall.

    When The Lightning Strikes gets cinematographer Raffaele Mertes in front of the camera for thirty-five minutes. He talks about getting to know Argento when working on The Church which led to his getting work on Trauma. He then goes over what it was like working in America for the first time, how professional most of the cast and crew were, Asia's relationship with Dario and how it affected the movie, shooting the topless scene and his thoughts on how that was handled, what Dario was like on set, details on shooting key sequences in the film, the use of a Steadicam for certain shots, helping out with the editing of the film and his thoughts on the quality of the film three decades after making it.

    The Additional Interviews section includes a few shorter interviews, the first with actress Sharon Barr who speaks for five minutes about how excited she was to work with Argento, shooting in an old tuberculosis ward and the eeriness of the location, thoughts on her character how the film was received, and getting along with her co-stars. Actor/casting director Ira Belgrade speakers for six and a half minutes about what a 'trip' it was to work with Argento, how he came to work with the film due to his connections with the producer, his supporting role in the film, thoughts on the script and some of his humor, getting along with the other cast members on set, casting the film with Argento's participation and his thoughts on the violence in the film. Actor James Russo speaks for four minutes about how he came to be familiar with Argento after seeing Suspiria at a drive-in, getting the part through his agent, being excited to work with Argento as he was and is a major fan, Savini's work on the picture and more. Actress Piper Laurie gets give minutes to talk about her thoughts on the crazy script and how she didn't understand a lot of it, how she really liked her character and her part in the film, getting along with her co-stars, what it was like on set, her decapitation scene and her thoughts on the picture. Last but not least, first assistant director Rod Smith talks for nine minutes about how he got the job on Trauma, working with Argento and what that was like, the budget and shooting schedule, having to work a lot of cold nights, the importance of the mood on set during a production like this, how everyone bonded on the set and got along really well, what Argento was like to collaborate with and his influence.

    On Set With Tom Savini is an archival featurette that shows off the behind-the-scenes footage that Savini shot on set during his stint on the production. Rounding out the extras are an eight minute archival EPK, English and Italian trailers, menus and chapter selection options. This release also comes with a limited edition slipcover and some nice reversible cover sleeve art

    Trauma - The Final Word:

    Trauma is a solid thriller with some good performances and memorable murder set pieces. Vinegar Syndrome has done a great job bringing it to Blu-ray in a very strong presentation and with a ridiculous array of quality extra features. All in all, this is a great package for Argento fans and one not to be missed.

    Click on the images below for full sized Trauma Blu-ray screen caps!






























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