Aenigma

Yeah, I had a mental breakdown. But now I’m over it completely!
★★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
1987
Director: 
Lucio Fulci
Starring: 
Jared Martin, Lara Naszinsky, Ulli Reinthaler, Sophie D'Aulan, Jennifer Naud
The Setup: 
Girl possesses another girl to get revenge on the bitches who put her in a coma.
Discussion: 

I have no idea how or why this made it to the top of my list, but there it was, and it sounded kind of fun and it was compared to Carrie, so there it was. As I plan movie night at The Hose in the East Village [already defunct! - We were losing money on air conditioning!] I have to think of various themes for the month, and one of them planned is DEADLY GIRLS’ SCHOOLS, and this one could definitely go on that list. And isn’t it kind of funny that there’s enough [or aenough] horror movies set in girls’ schools to fill that out?

So we find that we’re in St. Mary’s College in Boston, although the rest of the film and all of the actors were obviously filmed in Italy. This girl Cathy is being made up by a young man and woman, who are putting makeup on her and picking out clothes and panties for her. On the walls of her dorm room are a Snoopy “Read” poster and Tom Cruise from Top Gun. We’re also hearing this cheesy pop song saying “Falling headover heels and you just can’t stop…” Incidentally, this song is listed in the credits as “Head Over Meels.” So Cathy is pretty passive, letting herself be made up and dressed while she stands there like she’s catatonic, and finally they pick a RED dress for her and send her on her date. I believe her date is with Fred, the hunky aerobics teacher who sees nothing wrong with dating his students, though I could be mistaken. Anyway, turns out all the other girls in the school are parked nearby, and have rigged up Fred’s car to listen to the proceedings. Cathy is letting her passions at last be unleashed, and is quite vocal about the incredible sensations her body is experiencing, much to the delight of her vindictive classmates. Then they all turn their headlights on, Cathy gets out of the car, horrified, and starts running. The girls give chase in their cars, and Cathy runs—oops, right onto that highway, where she gets plowed down by a car. Quite a day for her, huh?

They bring her in to Dr. Robert Anderson, who tries to use… what’s that thing where they put the two electrodes on your chest, shout “Clear!” and them shock you? That thing. Only he obviously doesn’t know how to use it [and has apparently NEVER watched a movie or TV] as he holds it steadily to her chest with the power on. But alas, Cathy is dead. We [i.e. the camera] rises through several floors of the hospital, then come out the roof, where we see, to our astonished delight, that we are floating over a MODEL of the town! We are floating over the cheesiest, most grade-school-art-project-lookin’ model in the world, and it REALLY endeared this movie to me. Just a skip and a jump away is the girls’ school, and Cathy’s soul comes down just as this new student, Eva, is arriving. She is welcomed into the school by the severe Miss Jones, who inquires into some trouble in Eva’s past. “I had a breakdown, Miss Jones,” Eva cheerily responds, “But now I’m over it completely.” Don’t you love that? Personally, I don’t think you should trust anyone who claims to be completely over their mental breakdown—especially when they mention it in the first five minutes. Ladies, gents—dating tips, right here.

After meeting her roommate Jenny, Eva’s first order of business the next day is to report to aerobics class, taught by the fucking handsome and delightfully stuck-on-himself Fred Vernon. He flirts with Eva, and she claims to have a pain RIGHT THERE that she needs him to massage away. This approach never worked that well with MY gym teacher. Anyway, by the time class is over she has a date for that night! Although Jenny warns her against Fred’s rough-lovin’ ways. MMMMnnnn, I’m INTRIGUED. Eva is told she’ll know Fred’s house because there’s a poster of the Hulk on his front door—LOVE IT. And this is an adult we’re talking about here. Eva, for her part, has a Yoda “Read” poster on her wall. Even Yoda wants you to read, kids!

So Fred is at the gym [their date is going to be in the gym?], gazing at his own reflection and doing a little posing. Then he sees Mary, the old washerwoman, scrubbing the floors and orders her out. Attentive eyes will notice that Fred has a full-on erection as he waits for his date, and I had a picture to show you, but damn it, that’s on my hard drive that died, taking a lot of unpublished reviews and pictures with it. Hey kids—back up your data NOW. Mary goes around the corner, but doesn’t really leave, and her eyes glow red as she gazes angrily after Fred. He’s back in the mirror, posing and reveling in his own hotness, when his mirror reflection starts pushing against the glass. Finally it breaks through and strangles our dear Fred! It then wanders off, leaving me with the excited prospect of there being an evil Fred walking around—that is, even more evil that the “good” Fred—but alas, Fred is dead and we never see his handsome face again. Grrr!

SPOILERS > > >
So the students all gather round one evening to smoke pot and tell of Cathy, and it seems that none of them are very repentant about causing Cathy’s current vegetative state. During this time we discover that Cathy is Mary, the old washer-woman’s daughter, leading one of the girls to wonder “Who would make love with a retard like Mary?” Soon after, a stricken-looking Mary [actually, that’s her only expression] serves the girls snails, which they don’t seem to appreciate. Then one of the girls, Virginia, goes to her room and finds a whole mess of snails piled on her bed. She runs for help, but when she comes back—they’re gone! Now, would you just climb into bed at that point, or would you maybe sleep on the couch that night? Well, I guess you’re not living in a giallo. Virginia thinks “Oh, a minor super-vivid hallucination, I guess everyone gets those sometimes!” and piles into bed. Then the camera pans over to the Rocky poster on the wall, a snail ominously crawling on Stallone’s shoulder. Soon Virginia wakes and finds herself covered in snails. We have lots of shots of them on her breasts and anywhere it’s salacious, as she writhes and screams, but does nothing to remove them or get up. Finally they smother her. An all-too-common fate.

In here we have periodically cut to this doctor that looks vaguely like Art Garfunkel, who gazes on Cathy’s brain-dead form and talks portentiously to the attending nurse. They are amazed that there is brain activity showing up in Cathy, despite the fact that she’s brain dead. Of course, the presence of brain activity would by definition mean that she is not brain dead, but I’m no doctor. Meanwhile, at the school, Eva spontaneously goes apeshit and smashes up her dorm room, whereupon she is inclined to lay on her bed and writhe suggestively while in her panties. Hey, this possession is kind of sexy! Anyway, we cut back to Cathy and hear her chuckling.

So the aforementioned Garfunkel-esque doctor goes to see Eva, now fully possessed. She wakes and tells him that he’s her one and only love, despite their age difference and the fact that he looks like a kitchen scrubbie with a face. He tries to leave, but she suddenly goes all Fatal Attraction on him and grabs his car keys from his hand, refusing to give them back, then just gets into his car, demanding he take her with him. He seems to be fine with this plan.

Next on the docket to die is this girl Grace. She is lured to this wide staircase with large historical paintings, which she finds creepy for some reason. Soon the painting above her starts dripping blood right on her face, and she decides to just stand there and let it! Then the painting moves, a guy’s hand gets chopped off in the painting, and then a real severed hand falls on the floor! Then the hall is filled with snakes, which Grace seems curiously unconcerned about. Maybe because she was obviously filmed separately, and snakes were never anywhere near her.

Then Dr. Robert gets custody of Eva, which I’m not even sure what that means, although it sounds a little disturbing, especially since they screw pretty wildly a second later. Eva then claws and eats him—oh, but that was just his foreboding nightmare. Then this other girl comes on to the doctor, and he totally goes for it! It seems obvious that we cannot hold Italian doctors’ fidelity in high esteem.

Then comes a highlight. This girl Kim hears a noise, and goes in her schoolmate’s room to find—her decapitated corpse! The camera zooms in on the stump! Then she goes in her other schoolmate’s room to find—and the camera zooms in—! Then she goes next door to find—and the camera—then she goes—you get the idea, but it happens SEVEN TIMES. Seven zooms onto severed head stumps, I counted. Because if you only saw six, you know, you wouldn’t really KNOW the seventh one happened. This turns out to be the movie’s way of killing everyone else off before we wrap this shit up.

Then we see a hand unhook Cathy’s IV drip! Cathy dies! And at last we see that the person who unhooked her was… her mother, Mary! Deal with THAT. Then the camera floats up again over the model as Mary’s soul floats up and at last finds peace, we have a reprise of “Head Over Meels” [which ultimately has no relation to what we just watched, it’s just some song], and it’s over.
< < < SPOILERS END

It’s just your average, not very good, low sense-making giallo, but I found it a little more fun than most. There’s just something fun about terror in a girls’ school, and I always like movies where a loser gets revenge on her prettier, snootier classmates. All of the characters are kind of fun, there’s a generally highly-sexed vibe, there’s the cheesy 80s posters, and the fact that none of it makes a lick of sense. It also contains some rather creative deaths. It isn’t, however, very scary, and it doesn’t offer you anything to think about either during or afterwards.

If you need a giallo, you could do both worse and better, although this one does maintain a relatively fun, amusing vibe all the way to the end.

Should you watch it: 

If it sounds appealing, go for it.