Lesser Fulci Restored: Aenigma

I wasn't sure if I should break these up - because I do have plenty of other discs I'm sure you guys will be interested in lined up - or just power through 'em, but I'm really getting caught up watching 88's I-horror restorations, so I'm just gonna knock 'em out now.  Today's entry, a film generally accepted as lesser Fulci.  But lesser Fulci is like sex and pizza, right?  Even when it's bad, it's good.  And in this case, it's still horror and before the made-for-TV/ Mattei era, so how wrong can you go?  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Italian Collection #23: Aenigma.
The story's a fairly straight-forward Patrick knock-off meets Carrie knock-off, with a healthy dose of Hello Mary Lou, Prom Night 2.  Essentially, the snobby students of an all girls school (oh yeah, shades of Suspiria as well), get together with their gym teacher to play a cruel prank on the one poor girl in their class.  Of course, things go wrong, and said girl winds up in a coma.  Soon after a new girl arrives with a slight case of deja vu and a penchant for supernatural revenge.  Can a local doctor with highly questionable practices discover the connection before there's no one left to save?
The last time I saw Aenigma, I rented the VHS from Blockbuster Video.  At that time, I was just getting into the Fulci catalog beyond the classics, and I wound up pretty disappointed.  My memory for a long time was that Aenigma was awfully boring with one good scene (the museum).  But revisiting it now - and watching it restored in HD might be helping it along - I found it to still be lesser Fulci, but consistently entertaining with several noteworthy scenes (though the museum sequence still stands out).  I also remembered the soundtrack as being pretty bland.  But actually, apart from the ultra-cheesy song during credits (which fits perfectly, given the context of the story), it's pretty good.  You know, it's no Goblin or anything; but it works.
Inspector Fulci will get to the bottom of this!
This film's been released plenty of times, most notably in 2001 as part of Image's Euroshock Collection.  But they've mostly been non-anamorphic, no frills DVDs.  Italy had a better DVD, and even a blu-ray last year; but it had no English language options, so that's no good.  That means, 88's new 2k restoration of Aenigma is going to be the first truly viable option for most of us.  So let's see what we've got.
88 Films' 2017 blu-ray.
Once again we've got a 2k restoration from the original camera negatives, and it looks pretty great.  Grain level is consistent, as opposed to what we just saw in Massacre In Dinosaur Valley; and the colors look perfectly natural, if a bit washed.  And I think that may well be the intentional look of the film.  The framing is slightly pillar-boxed to 1.66:1 (or, more accurately, 1.67:1).  And maybe another label will come along and jack up the contrast and saturation, which will probably please some fans and disappoint others.  But apart from that, I don't imagine this film could look much better than it does right here. 

As with the previous two discs we've looked at, Aenigma, includes both the English and Italian language versions.  But this time it really just means the alternate audio tracks, not two cuts of the film.  Both are in lossless LPCM 2.0, with optional English subtitles.
For special features, this time around there's basically one big one: a 77-minute documentary about Lucio Fulci, with very minimal clips or anything other than sit-down interviews with a lot of his collaborators and peers.  Specifically, they talk to: cinematographer Alessandro Grossi, second unit director Michele de Angelis, Claudio Fragasso, Antonio Tentori, composer Carlo Maria Cordio, Marco di Stefano from Touch Of Death, Gianni Martucci (who directed one of the Lucio Fulci Presents pictures, Red Monks), Antonio Bido, and production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng.  It's a bit dry, and they barely mention Aenigma at all; but fans will appreciate it all.  Apart from that, we get an alternate credits sequence in Italian, the theatrical trailer and reversible cover art.  And again, donators to the campaign got a slick, exclusive slipcover.
If you're interested in this film, this is the only way to go.  It's definitely time to chuck your old Euroshock discs.  The only real question is... are you interested in this film?  This is not top shelf Fulci, but it's far from his worst, and it feels a little bit more like a typical American 80s horror flick, which have a charming appeal.  Certainly, if you haven't seen The Beyond yet, and you've got the two in your hands at the store, this is the one to put back on the shelf.  But if you're building a Fulci collection, or are just looking for a fun 80s time that you're not going to place a lot of demands on, then this is an excellent edition of a decent, little film.

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