Aug 8, 2020

Trauma (1978)

There's been endless talk about the origins of the slasher film; whether it's Black Christmas or a Mario Bava flick, it doesn't matter - it was definitely an American progression of the giallo, with other influences intermixed.  The giallos were always a bit too serious, while the slasher was pure entertainment.  Trauma, stands right at the nexus in 1978, the year of Halloween, with all manner of gialo tropes (black gloves, etc.) yet it plays out like a slasher - with a backstory, ten-little-indians style killing, and a lack of forced gravitas as the Italian giallos tried so hard to convey.  All that's missing is the "cool" boogeyman - instead, director León Klimovsky opts for a Norman Bates scenario.  Still, a fun look at the slasher-giallo crossroads.

 Veronica (Ágata Lys) runs a boarding house out in the woods.

 Daniel (Heinrich Starhemberg), a writer, has just arrived.

 Check out that cool ascot!

 Veronica has a tendency to talk to an "empty" chair.

She does a painful dance wearing see-through underwear.

 Ana (Irene Foster) and Víctor (Antonio Mayans) request admittance to the boarding house.

 A nice gratuitous nude scene from Irene Foster as she exercises basically naked.

 If you've seen a slasher, you know this couple is doomed.

Indeed, Victor is killed and the mysterious slasher comes for her next...

Like I mentioned - the perfect nexus between slasher and giallo.  We have the straight razor and black gloves (giallo) and killer POV "punishing" young lovers (slasher). 

Heinrich Starhemberg's wardrobe in this film is something to behold.

 Daniel calls his wife Elena (Sandra Alberti)

 I'm actually a huge fan of Sandra Alberti after her performance in Satan's Blood from this same year.

The next couple we're introduced to: Gabriel (Ricardo Merino) and a prostitute Eva (Isabel Pisano

Their car has broken down.

 Gabriel gets frisky.

Daniel helps the couple get a room at the boarding house.

A bush shot from Isabel Pisano if you look quick enough.

The killer lurks.  Those converse shoes... so, lame compared to the upgrade slashers would give to the killer. Imagine how much better this would be if the killer looked like Jason.

Gabriel is killed in his car, but Eva is oblivious.

 Eva is chased into the woods and killed.

 Elena arrives.

They have sex... well, Daniel tries to.  For some reason, he can't perform.  I have a theory which is a bit of a stretch: there is a scene with Daniel at the lake with a young boy that is never explained.  I suspect we're to presume Daniel is not a heterosexual but he hasn't come to terms with it.  If you want to take it in a twisted direction, maybe Daniel likes young boys.  Ugh... let's move on.

 Sandra Alberti provides FFN.

We find that Veronica is the killer - and she has a Norman Bates thing going with the abusive husband she killed years ago.
 Daniel is able to talk her down and take the knife; she's then arrested.

On the drive home we see Daniel's black glove and I guess presume he may have been the killer this whole time.  To make matters even  weirder, the last frame of the film is on the young boy we mentioned earlier.  WTF?

Very small scale, and not really a great example of either genre - giallo or slasher.  Still, it's beautifully and competently shot.  It probably could have used a bit more energy, but this was just about the last project for León Klimovsky whose career as a director started way back in the forties, so you can forgive him for losing steam.

Double Feature: An isolated house, with a Norman Bates shtick and a very similar vibe - Unhinged (1982)

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