Aenigma (1987)
Image Entertainment
Cast: Jared Martin, Lara Naszinski

Another of Italian director Lucio Fulci’s films makes its way to DVD with ’Aenigma’. The story is set at St. Mary’s College in Boston. (Trust me on this, as the school’s name appears in every shot of the movie.) After a prank-gone-awry leaves Kathy (Milijana Zirojevic) in a coma, she possesses new student Eva (Lara Naszinski) in order to carry out her revenge. Strange things begin to happen around the school and Dr. Anderson (Jared Martin), who’s caring for Kathy, is called in to examine Eva. As the students involved with the prank begin to die, one-by-one, Kathy’s power over Eva grows stronger and no one is safe.

Despite the fact that ’Aenigma’ is simply the Italian take on the Australian film ’Patrick’ (with the prank being reminiscent of ’National Lampoon’s Class Reunion’), I was pleasantly surprised by this film. While ’Aenigma’ brings nothing new to the possession/revenge genre (except for maybe the famous ’death by snails’ scene), the story is fairly solid and the film is well-paced. There are the expected Fulci lapses in logic (we never know exactly how powerful Kathy is), but there are not as many of his trademark ’eyeball zooms’. The fluctuation of Kathy’s power actually adds to the film, as it leaves one not knowing what could happen next. In addition, the ending was quite and surprise and was handled very subtly. There is very little gore in ’Aenigma’ and that fact sets it apart from many of Fulci’s other genre films as well. Fans of Fulci’s more brutal films, such as ’The Beyond’ and ’Zombie’, may not like ’Aenigma’, but, silliness aside, I enjoyed it.

’Aenigma’ slithers onto DVD from Image Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1, but is sadly not enhanced for 16×9 TVs. Seeing what Anchor Bay has been able to do with Fulci’s other films, this transfer, while not all too bad, still comes across quite disappointingly. The image is fairly sharp and clear, but it is overly dark at times. The grain on the image is noticeable, but not enough to detract from the viewing experience. There are some obvious defects from the source print, such as scratches and black dots, especially during the finale. The audio on this DVD is a Dolby Digital Mono, which provides clear and intelligible dialogue, but there are some audible pops and scratches on the soundtrack, which, like the video, could have used some clean-up. There are no extras on this DVD.