** Out of 5
Release Date- August 15th, 1988 (Italy)
Running Time- 85-Minutes
Screenplay- Lucio Fulci & Giorgio Mariuzzo
Director- Lucio Fulci
Starring- Lara Naszinsky, Jared Martin, Ulli Reinthaler, Milijana Zirojevic, Dusica Zegarac
In general it seems as most filmmakers get older they start to decline and that seems far more common in the horror genre and Lucio Fulci who was one of the best horror filmmakers had one of the biggest declines as his later work were more often than not a sloppy mess. Earlier in his career Lucio Fulci made some serious and smart films like Don’t Torture a Duckling and Seven Notes in Black and with those two movies Fulci proved he could make a film as good as if not better than any other horror filmmaker. But the problem was nobody was really seeing these movies; it wasn’t until 1979 with Zombi 2 that Fulci became a power player in the horror genre. And while Zombi 2 is noted for its gore F/X with good reason the movie like his earlier work is filled with suspense and tension and that is what most people overlook about Lucio Fulci. In his prime, Fulci made some eerie flicks that were suspense and tension filled, but again often either overlooked or people just mention the splatter F/X.
Once the 80s started Fulci was now a splatter director and his movies were often incoherent, but what they lacked in plot they made up for in gore F/X and thus the title of the Godfather of Gore was born. But to Fulci’s credit even his splatter flicks also had some decent suspense and often had a feel of eerie at atmosphere. Granted his splatter flicks weren’t as good as his earlier work as a whole, but finally Fulci was getting his due. But after the release of The New York Ripper, Fulci seemed to lose his edge. The decline started and it was a rather big drop off. I personally loved the New York Ripper, but some felt the decline started there. I personally rate that as one of his best, but in general it was all downhill from there.
To be totally honest anything after The New York Ripper I don’t really anything he made with the exception of Cat in the Brain, which was excellent and to a lesser degree I can tolerate Murder Rock and Zombi 3 due to the so bad its good vibe it has going for it at times. But even if I can tolerate Murder Rock and Zombi 3 even those were a far cry from films like Don’t Torture a Duckling and Zombi 2. Aenigma may not be the worst movie in Fulci’s career, but one can possibly make a case for it. About the only positive thing I can say about Aenigma is it does feel like a Fulci flick something a lot of his later flicks lacked. But even though it felt like a Fulci flick it wasn’t a very good one. Aenigma has often been compared to Suspiria and Carrie, but this movie never ever reaches the level of greatness as those two films.
The screenplay by Lucio Fulci & Giorgio Mariuzzo is rather terrible; granted Fulci’s splatter flicks often weren’t very well written, but yet they worked despite that. But the characters in Aenigma are the typical faceless victims who quite honestly are better off dead. They’re really annoying and totally unlikable. The plot is a total mess, while the idea isn’t a bad; a girl in a coma takes over the body of another to get revenge for the accident that left her in a coma. Problem is nothing is really explained and we get useless scene after useless scene.
As director Fulci doesn’t fare any better; each scene is poorly set up with zero suspense and no real sense of pacing. While Aenigma isn’t poorly made in general it is a sloppy film. The 80s was the splatter era for Fulci and with Aenigma he strayed from that. This movie features very little gore and this movie really needed that. While gore wouldn’t have made this movie great or anything at least it would provide something. By this time in Fulci’s career he clearly wasn’t the same filmmaker and it very much show here. Besides trying to channel his inner Argento & De Palma, Fulci tries to make this a little more Americanized and it fails miserably.
Like I stated earlier in my review Lucio Fulci really was a lot better of a filmmaker than he got credit for. Don’t Torture a Duckling is easily one of the greatest Giallos ever made and Seven Notes in Black also serves as an excellent Giallo. Some people see Fulci as nothing more than a hack who can only deliver a gore movie. I urge those who think that to give the two movies I mentioned a chance and you’ll see there’s a lot more to Fulci. I really can’t think of many good things to say about Aenigma; simply put this is just a poor movie. I’d only recommend this to the hardcore Fulci fans like myself and I’m willing to bet most won’t like it. Aenigma is made by a director far past his prime. There’s no gore and no suspense and tension. Skip this one and go back and view Fulci’s work in the 70s and early 80s, but if you must continue with his later work just skip everything after New York Ripper until you get to the highly enjoyable Cat in the Brain.