DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Dario Argento's Trauma

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Aug 30, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    DARIO ARGENTO’S

    TRAUMA





    Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Film Year: 1993

    U.S. Rating: R
    Canadian Rating: 18A

    Film Length: 106 minutes
    Genre: Horror/Thriller

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 2.35:1 enhanced widescreen
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English
    Closed Captioned: Yes







    Release Date: August 23, 2005.



    Entertainment Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Scare Factor: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Christopher Rydell (David Parsons), Asia Argento (Aura Petrescu), Piper Laurie (Adrianna Petrescu), Frederic Forrest (Dr. Judd), Laura Johnson (Grace Harrington), Brad Dourif (Dr. Lloyd)

    Written by: John Franco Ferrini, Gianni Romoli, Dario Argento
    Directed by: Dario Argento



    A dark secret, a twisted mind, an insane desire for revenge.[/i]



    Instructions: take a thin metal wire about two feet long. Have both ends of it pulled back in a mechanical strangling device that is small enough to pack into a handbag. Make sure there is an on-off button. Congratulations! You now have your own personal and portable guillotine!

    Heads are-a-rollin’ in this 1993 horror flick from Dario Argento. Anchor Bay has been kind enough to keep pumping out Argento flicks and Trauma is the latest release along with throat-splitting film The Card Player (not reviewed). It is about a young girl named Aura who escapes a psychiatric center to run back to her parents. She finds herself in the middle of a police case about a garrotting maniac after the heads of her parents are taken. She finds help in the arms of David, a young news reporter who was trying to cover the first beheading. Together they try to solve the case with the information they have. No, they don’t go to the police like any logical person would, so they find themselves along the bloodied trail of neck juice.

    Many things influenced the making of this film, most notably anorexia, as Argento puts it. Argento wanted to base a story around an anorexic young girl based on experiences he had watching anorexics. Anorexia has nothing to do with the murders; it’s just a factor in the film and something else to think about. But this movie does feel a little back-and-fourth around this disease or social problem (whatever you want to call it), as well as the relationship between Aura and David, David and his fling at the news station, and of course, the murders. In fact, the movie really wasn’t well focussed, or maybe I was just expecting it to be about a one and only “specific” – because Trauma is not a movie like that. The story is presented from many angles and there are many secondary characters that prove to be important in the film. The acting is a little better than what we see in badly acted horror films; it reminded me of watching a high school play on a $7 million budget. It was good, but just short of the pros.

    So how does this film perform in terms of quality on DVD?


    [​IMG]VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This widescreen enhanced 2.35:1 film is not terrible looking, yet it isn’t great either. There are some issues that need to be sorted out, most importantly the edge enhancement. Yuck. It seems somewhere in the chain edge enhancement is being applied. Anchor Bay, I encourage you to stop doing this because the image looks artificially sharpened and not “sharper.” The image also looks gritty because of it.

    This film also suffers from an excess amount of blurring around the top and bottom of the frame – and especially in the corners. I’m not sure if this is from the original photography or the equipment used to transfer this film to video, but it really takes away from the presentation. The centre of the frame is good, or I should say your major focal area is clear, but if you look specifically to the sides of the screen you can easily see this blurring effect.

    The film is dimly lit with overcast skies and darker interiors. It rains a lot in this movie for the film’s murder scenes. Black levels are very good but film grain can be seen more in those dark parts of the pictures. The brightly lit scenes, such as the sunny daylight look fine. Detail is also very good, but sometimes the effect of a well-detailed scene is destroyed by edge enhancement. There also seems to be a bit of (what I think is) Y-C delay, or, the effect that colour is overlapping the boundaries of its image. For example, if a person was standing in the frame with a brown coat, the brown of the coat actually extends beyond the coat and onto the background.


    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The soundtrack is also not as good as it could be, but maybe I’m expecting too much given this was only a Dolby Surround release during its day. There are no discrete sounds in the rear channels that call for attention and LFE activity is minimal. It’s essentially a Dolby Surround soundtrack encoded in Dolby Digital and you’ll receive better results using the Dolby 2.0 Surround soundtrack on this disc and decoding it with Dolby Pro-Logic II.

    Dialogue is in the centre channel and it is clear with just a touch of harshness. The audio also lacks warmth in the midbass giving the feeling of a hollow-sounding soundtrack. Keep in mind this is not due to the transfer to DVD, but rather the original audio production and to some extent, the use of a lossy audio compression technology (but that can be said for every release on every DVD…)

    The audio is engaging nevertheless, immersing the viewer in the rainstorms that brings out the murderer. There are many sound effects that create a realistic environment in the front soundstage to draw you into the film.


    [​IMG]SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    ”Warning! The following contains spoilers – watch the movie first!” is the message we see when accessing either of the two new documentaries made for this DVD. Don’t worry; I’m not going to spoil any part of the film for you here so you can continue reading. I was happy to see that Anchor Bay included that message as a warning to those of you who are anxious to eat dessert before dinner.

    Writer/Director Dario Argento is interviewed in the first documentary Love, Death, and Trauma. This 19-minute documentary gets into the mind of Argento when he was creating the ideas for this film. He connects the film to his personal experiences with him seeing anorexia as a problem. He also discusses his daughter/actress Asia’s experience eating like an anorexic prior to filming so she can look right for the role. I actually thought she looked anorexic prior to knowing her character was supposed to be suffering from it.

    The next featurette is titled On set with Tom Savini and is about 8 minutes in length. It’s a comical collection of behind-the-scenes camcorder footage on severed heads, and the shooting of the severed head scenes. Those of you familiar with Tom Savini will remember his fantastic make-up work and special effects in countless horror films over the past few decades such as Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, and Creepshow.

    A commentary with author Alan Jones is included as an optional audio track. Like most commentaries, this is a reflection on how the movie came to be and what it was like with actors, director, and shooting.

    Even though there may be a 7-minute longer version of this film floating around overseas somewhere, this is the most common cut of the film. You can view most of the scenes that are in the longer cut in the deleted scenes section. Like the rest of the features, these scenes are enhanced for widescreen televisions and most of them a more blurry than the film segments that are put before and after the scene so you know where in the film it goes. It looks blurry because it looks like it came from some tape overseas and the dialogue is only dubbed Italian with English subtitles. Listen my friends; there is no need to worry about waiting for a longer cut of the film. These scenes are fillers only and they don’t change the direction of the story or add more character development.

    You’ll also find the trailer for the movie, a poster and still gallery with over 50 frames, a Dario Argento bio, and trailers for other Argento-related movies.


    IN THE END…

    Trauma is more gruesome than scary and offers many shots of severed, rolling, and even talking heads. The DVD presentation is OK but any shortfalls shouldn’t distract your experience of this Argento film. This is also an early film with Argento’s daughter Asia, who even though was reluctant to involve herself in the film industry, her current projects are respectable. If you haven’t seen an Argento film yet and you have heard all about all the greatness of Opera and Suspiria (also available from Anchor Bay), Trauma is a good Argento title to start with.

    Michael Osadciw
    05.08.30
     
  2. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    I disagree. At the very least, the scene of Aura shopping in the farmer's market should never have been cut from the film.

    Also, there are additional deleted scenes from the workprint that Anchor Bay had access to but didn't bother to include on this release. These include an alternate introduction to Aura, David, and Grace that's arguably the most important deleted scene of all.

    Vincent
     
  3. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Well Vince, it's everybody's opinion. If you feel these scenes were necessary then by all means you can wait for an extended cut should we ever see one (and I can't see one anytime soon). I believe these scenes would have slowed the movie down more - and to me, honestly, the movie felt long enough. While Anchor Bay may have had access to the other deleted scenes that are listed on IMBD.com, there must have been a reason why they weren't included. I don't think they've selectively chose to add some and not others just for the heck of it.

    Regarding flagging, on my Denon DVD-3910 player and after upconverting to 720p through HDMI, I noticed no problems with artefacting.

    ...and relating to my aspect ratio error. Ooops, I apologize. Sorry for not picking up on the error immediately. You must realize that at this point in time I'm going through many films that studios have sent me for a Sept. 6 release. After going though many discs, sometimes the details begin to blur by the time I write. When I write reviews, I don't always have the film playing beside me and my notes and press release materials. In the case of seeing 2.35:1 in my notes and 1.85:1 in press release, I went with 1.85:1. My bad.

    Mike
     
  4. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    There's no question that AB had access to a copy of the workprint. The only thing they were selective about was whether to include extra footage contained within it or not. The deleted scenes they do include on the disc are not workprint scenes, but are rather simply the additional scenes found in the Italian release version of the film (which is why they are Italian-dubbed only as opposed to being in the original English as they are in the workprint). It was not a "for the heck of it" decision, but rather the difference between including the workprint footage or not. They chose not. Nothing random about it.

    DJ
     
  5. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    This is what really kills me. There's no reason they couldn't have used the English audio from the workprint over those scenes.

    Vincent
     
  6. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    As I've said before, what a crushing disappointment this DVD is to fans of the film, and I definitely count myself among said fans.
     
  7. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    I ended up getting this sent my way as well. I'll check it out this weekend and post my thoughts hear. Sounds like I'm going to be disappointed.
     
  8. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    I ended up getting the disc for completions sake, and it's both good and bad news. The video transfer is pretty good... so long as you view the disc in interlaced mode. Hopefully, Anchor Bay will offer a corrected replacement that is flagged for progressive scan playback, as the film-to-tape transfer isn't really at fault here, it's the encoding that was messed up...

    The real treat are the extras. The interview with Argento is very good. For a man who isn't very good at giving commentaries (at least in English), he offers up some very illuminating and informative comments here. What's most surprising is how much he seems to like the film, given how poorly it was (at least initially) received. The behind-the-scenes footage from Savini is also very good, albeit short. I wish this had been a 2-disc set as there'd be room for a lot more of his footage. What I've listened to thus far of Alan Jones's commentary is also very good.

    The deleted scenes are sadly only the additional scenes from the Italian print, and pretty poor quality at that. I'm at a loss as to why these look so bad, as Cecchi-Gori released a very nice looking anamorphic DVD of TRAUMA in Italy that has these scenes intact, and in fact it looks as though that was the source for the Anchor Bay DVD deleted scenes... so why do they look so bad here? Were they duped to VHS tape before being mastered to this DVD or something? Also, as noted above, why no additional deleted scenes from the workprint, and why no effort to dub over the additional scenes from the Italian print with the English audio from the workprint?

    My favorite thing about this disc is that Anchor Bay has included the entire, unedited 'Ruby Rain' song over the main menu. I could sit here all day listening to this haunting track on a loop, I'm glad they got this right. Now if only they'd have gotten the encoding right, included all the deleted scenes, reinstated the extra scenes from the Italian print with the audio from the workprint remixed for the dialogue track into the main feature, and included more of that terrific Savini behind-the-scenes footage. There's also a wonderful half-French/half-English interview with Asia Argento from the French DVD release, as well as a vintage walking-tour of some of TRAUMA's Minnesota locations also included on the French disc. How hard would it have been to license these?

    Vincent
     
  9. Edward Schatz

    Edward Schatz Second Unit

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    I had been debating buying this (the copy at my local Best Buy was rattling around in the case so I decided against it). I think this review will sway me in the "negative" direction.
     
  10. Cory H.

    Cory H. Stunt Coordinator

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    In addition to your "Suspiria" recommendation, I'd suggest "Deep Red" or even "Bird With The Crystal Plumage" over "Opera", for an introduction to Argento, personally. "Opera" was a case of good idea, but poor execution.
     

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