An anorexic young woman escapes from a psychiatric clinic and meets a young man who wants to help. She is caught and returned to her parents, who are soon beheaded by a garrotting stranger making the rounds about town, apparently striking only when it rains. The orphaned young woman and her new lover launch their own investigation and are endangered when a link is discovered with the victims and a particular operation performed years before.
"Trauma was director Dario Argento's big crossover attempt at combining the Italian giallo genre with the American stalk 'n' slash. His fans may debate whether the result was a complete success, but the film certainly put his name in front of a wider international audience. Essentially the story is a psycho-murderer-mystery, with the audience made to piece together clues towards the identity-revealing denouement. The movie comes alive as a result of suitably intense performances, even while the characters die.
Piper Laurie and Brad Dourif supply atypically explosive cameos. The leads are contrastingly subdued for the most part, no doubt because of their characters' involvement with drugs. Asia Argento (the director's daughter) is an anorexic who witnesses her parents' decapitations among a series of similar murders by the notorious "Headhunter". Christopher Rydell plays the ex-junkie who takes her in and helps track down the killer. Backing them up are some even greater performances from Tom Savini's eye-boggling special FX. With the aid of a motorised garrotte, the beheadings are gruesomely real, especially the one that leaves a head still able to talk."
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