Aenigma (1988)

Luci Fulci is back… Or, as I suppose the bumper stickers and various other memes would say, “Fulci Lives!”

Welcome to B-Movie Enema. This week, we’re looking Fulci’s 1988 Carrie-esque thriller, Aenigma. 1988 was a curious year for Fulci. That was the year that his sort of sequel Zombie 3 was released. But Zombie 3 wasn’t really his movie. He got very ill at the start of filming and had to leave and directing duties shifted to Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso. The result? Well, it was kind of goofy, but mostly worked. If for nothing else, it was a fun watch.

Fulci would recover and ended up making Aenigma. He would say this was one of his more favorite films in some time. Fulci’s body of work is curious because, while I like most of his films for various reasons, he is good in spurts and spots. I love Zombie. I love his “Gates of Hell” trilogy. The Devil’s Honey is phenomenal. But this movie, this was the director’s own pick for his favorite during the latter part of his career.

This film would be mostly shot on location in Sarajevo, (then) Yugoslavia. It would ultimately be listed as an Italian/Yugoslavian co-production. I mentioned already that this movie is sort of a Carrie type movie. He definitely liked the idea of having a character with telekinetic powers. However, why stop with just one character as a focal point of the movie?

The script was written by Giorgio Mariuzzo and Fulci. They had collaborated previously on previous films – most notably, The House By the Cemetery and The Beyond, two of the Gates of Hell films. Outside of his collaborations with Fulci, Mariuzzo mostly made Italian comedies. One thing that Fulci fans like is how ultra-gory he can get with his horror films. Aenigma delivers on this. But, the movie does get generally mixed reviews. Some consider this one of Fulci’s great films, and others… not so much.

I will say that I really do love the poster for the movie. REAL QUICK! Let’s take a look at this masterpiece, shall we?

Obviously, the first thing that will grab your attention is the eerie specter of the angry woman with her claw-like hands. It almost makes you think you’re about to watch a monster movie or possibly something about an old, evil witch. That appears to almost come out of a cemetery too – which, let’s face it, seems like something that should appear on every Fulci film poster. What’s kind of interesting is that the scary lady in the cemetery and yelling at us completely distracts us from the naked girl in bed. That’s a real big titty and you’d think that would really stand out. It’s almost lost by how striking the top half of the poster is. The title is a curious one. Dämonia is really close to the previously covered Demonia. I hope it is more along the lines of what Fulci said about this being one of his more favorite films and less like that one. I really didn’t care that much for Demonia.

However, Dämonia is also spelled Dæmonia. Demonia translate to Demony. I guess that devil is acting a little demony. Dæmonia translates to nothing. Sigh. So what gives, Lucio? Let’s just get into Aenigma – which can also be spelled Ænigma. That’s a genus of jumping spiders.

Which looks a little like the poster.


We begin at Saint Mary’s College in Boston. We watch a girl getting ready for a date. This is Kathy. Poor Kathy here has never been on a date before. That’s because we’re to believe that she’s kind of a beanpole and lonely and considered unattractive, she’s too awkward to date.

I dunno, Enemaniacs… Is Kathy truly that unattractive?

I dunno. I think there’s something kind of to her. Is she a supermodel? No, but, I know this will come as some sort of surprise to you, dear readers, I am not one myself. I’d take Kathy for a Big Mac whenever she might want one. I will say that I would require her to play her theme song whenever we do get together.

It is a little peculiar that Kathy is going out on a date with the girls’ school hunky gym teacher, Fred Vernon. She’s long had a crush on Mr. Vernon. So now she’s gotten her dream come true – they are neckin’ in his car in the woods. Meanwhile, a literal gaggle of classmates are surrounding their car to surprise her.

She jumps out of the car and takes off running while Fred laughs his ass off and the students chase after her laughing and making fun of all the romantic things she was saying during the make out sesh. Two of the teasing students were the classmates that helped her get ready for the date. Fuckers.

That’s something we don’t care much for around here, crew. We don’t take kindly to people being belittled for being who they are. This poor girl had a crush on the hunk gym teacher. He conspired with the other popular kids to humiliate her. That sucks, gang. Don’t do those things to someone who’s done nothing to you but exist and be a little awkward.

Especially if they have super mind powers!

As Kathy was running away, she didn’t realize she was getting close to the main road and gets hit by a car. She is now in the hospital in a coma with some pretty serious injuries. In fact, while in the hospital, she stops breathing. The doctors attempt to revive her with a defibrillator. But it doesn’t seem to be taking. We hear Kathy’s disembodied voice say she can’t die and she won’t die.

Meanwhile, back at Saint Mary’s College, a new girl, Eva Gordon, has arrived. She… She seems a little spooky. Why’s that? Well, because the mystery is immediately ruined for us as we immediately learn that Eva is, indeed, Kathy. I guess Kathy has possessed Eva.

I mean… far be it for me to tell Lucio Fulci how to make a movie, but you’d think he’d like this mystery to remain for longer than 30 seconds. What do I know?

Eva meets her roommate, Jenny. Eva tells her there’s only one thing that she looks for in terms of a successful semester at school – to make out with as many boys as possible. Smash cut to Fred’s “gym” “class”. This is basically just where he makes the girls do suggestive aerobics moves. He then calls one girl fat and slaps her ass.

Fred’s a predator.

What Fred doesn’t know is that there’s an apex predator who has her eyes set on him – Eva/Kathy. Think about how fucked it is that a grown man, a teacher no less, is willing to play a horrible trick on a student. Never mind that Kathy was supposedly dreadfully unappealing to everyone – though I didn’t see her as that. He’s willing to embarrass the fuck out of a poor girl because she’s got a crush on him and she’s not up to his standards.

This man is a teacher.

Yeah, I know I’ve mentioned this twice already. This fucker is a teacher. Granted, this is supposedly Saint Mary’s COLLEGE, but its dynamics is one that’s more akin to a boarding school. This could mean these girls are quite young – and they want to fuck everything. This gym teacher is most definitely on the prowl as the only man I’ve seen in this whole movie. He also lives on the campus too. This means that he’s probably swimming in young student pussy. And if you think that seems pretty immature of him to do as a teacher and authority at the college, Jenny tells Eva that she’ll know when she’s gotten to his room because it has a poster of the Incredible Hulk on the door.

But then again, Jenny and Eva’s dorm room has one of those “READ” library posters hanging in their room with Yoda on it.

Now, there’s something else peculiar going on on campus too. Mary, the kindly maid/janitor, is always lurking around. She doesn’t seem to have the ability to speak. It’s almost as if her tongue has been cut out. She also has red glowing eyes.

Shortly after seeing that, Fred admires himself in the mirror. He notices his reflection is smushed up against the glass and suddenly breaks through to throttle… himself. While he’s getting his neck wrung by… himself… Kathy’s readings go off the scale. What’s a braindead girl doing with elevated brain activity and pulse rate? Also, she cracks a smile.

Back at the school, Eva is pissed the next day because Fred wouldn’t open the fucking door. The other girls hear her and the greatest line thus far of the movie is spoken by the below classmate:

“Did you really expect the most handsome hunk of beefcake in the place to fall at your feet as soon as you got here?”

Bitch, Fred would probably fuck anything that waft the scent of their lady caves in his general direction. Of COURSE he was going to sample the new girl.

Shortly afterwards, one of the bitchy girls wants to light up a joint. She asks for a light. Eva immediately reaches into the bedside nightstand and produces a lighter and tosses it to the girl. Everyone is very confused by this. How did she know there was a lighter right there? That was Kathy’s lighter and bedside drawer. How could this new girl just go to it like she knew it was there the whole time?

I mean, she’s been here for a couple days. I would think she’d look in her nightstand. Shit, I always open a hotel room’s drawers to see if good ol’ Gideon is in there with me. I don’t read it. I just want to know if hotels still do that shit.

Anyway, the girls tell Eva that the room used to be shared by Kathy. Fred was sick of how she kept following him around so he got the other students together to “have some fun” with the poor girl. They also tell her about the maid, Mary, and how she was Kathy’s mom. They use some pretty harsh language to call her mentally disabled and that it clearly had an effect on how Kathy turned out. Eva is quite curious what they mean by all these things they say about Mary and Kathy. Virginia, the girl with the killer dialog above, tells Eva that she hears strange noises every Friday night in a room that the headmistress, Miss Jones, locks herself into with another teacher, Miss Fitzpatrick.

The next morning, the coppers arrive to find Fred dead. They call it a heart attack. The girls take the news pretty hard – especially Virginia. The only girl to not seemingly be reacting with any sadness is Eva. Virginia believes Fred died of guilt. He apparently felt real bad about Kathy’s accident and even wanted to visit her at the hospital. Virginia’s very pissed that Fred’s gone and Kathy is still alive.

I think it’s safe to say Virginia is a cunt.

Eva makes a mistake. At lunch, she talks about how her family, in New Orleans, would make snails with a lot of garlic, like the French did. It was previously stated that Kathy’s breath constantly stunk of garlic because she would eat snails with lots of garlic too. She was also from New Orleans. Later, Kim, Kathy’s former roommate and massive bitch, hears Eva say she was so happy to have been born and raised in Boston. Kim asks about the discrepancy in her story about where she’s from, but Eva just says that, “No, I’m from Boston.” She would go on to say that her grandmother was from New Orleans and she spent some of her childhood there. Kim seems dubious of this.

This does lead me to question exactly what’s going on here. We’re told outright that Eva is possessed by Kathy. Fine. I didn’t like that being revealed to me, but I get it. It does line up with why she immediately attempted to seduce Fred and get in good with the other girls who pulled the awful prank on Kathy. However, Mary, Kathy’s mother, has glowing red eyes. She seems almost directly connected with Kathy because she created the double of Fred to strangle, uh, Fred, and, while that was happening, Kathy’s brain activity was off the charts.

It makes me wonder if there was a change in plan halfway through this movie. Was it always supposed to be Mary, and Eva was just this other girl who shows up to take Kathy’s place? Or was it just kind of messy that both Mary and the possessed Eva are acting out on revenge for what happened to Kathy? Like the answer to the immortal question of how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

What I do know is that it’s time to get revenge on Virginia. At lunch, she didn’t want any of the snails served because 1) snails make her skin crawl and 2) like me, I think she’s really questioning why a school would serve snails to everyone. Now, I know that Virginia is a jerk and said pretty awful things about Mary, but Virginia is kind of hot. I would say that they really should just, as the great Tom Petty once wrote, Leave Virginia Alone, but she is indeed an asshole and needs get get her tits eaten by snails.

Wait… What?

Yeah, while Virginia did see snails, Miss Jones did not when brought to her room. That night, the snails return and eat Virginia – including her boobs and face. When she screams, a snail even crawls into her mouth. While maybe not the spider-eating-a-guy’s-face death in an earlier Fulci, this is pretty cool.

At the very least, it is a unique death.

The next day, Eva is found standing outside Virginia’s room in a daze. Virginia’s roommate, Grace, snaps her out of it to tell her to get ready for dinner. Grace goes into the room and finds Virginia’s body. Virginia’s name disappears from the door’s nameplate. Back at the hospital, Kathy’s doctor and nurse start to recognize the bizarre trend that seems to coincide between weird mental activity spikes in Kathy and the deaths happening at the school. However, it’s the doctor who brings up the coincidence which leads the nurse to think that there is something connected happening, but then the doctor just tells the nurse she’s wrong and that it’s simply a coincidence.

Bro… YOU brought up the connection.

Anyway, Jenny starts talking to Eva about how Virginia died. Get this… The police say that Virginia put a pillow over her face and held it down so hard and for so long it made her suffocate. Uh… In what universe would this work? People sleep on their stomachs. Sometimes they even put their face down into the pillow. While that wouldn’t be comfortable, it sure as fuck wouldn’t kill you!

The human brain is kind of an amazing organ. How so? It knows when you’re trouble and lacking in oxygen. So what’s it do? Prevents you from removing your own air supply by holding something over your own face. You’d pass out and lose grip on whatever it is you are smashing onto your face and preventing you from breathing.

Oh whatever.

Eva begins thrashing about in her room while Jenny is talking about Virginia. She wrecks the room and begins writhing on the bed. Kathy’s doctor, Anderson, is called out to the school. He gives Eva a shot which calms her down and makes her more lucid. She makes out with the doctor. The next day, she tracks down the doctor at the hospital and decides she wants a little more of what that doctor can prescribe her.

Quick! Doctor! Eva needs 8 inches of vitamin D, stat!

Dr. Anderson tries fighting off the advances of Eva, but she kind of forces his hand. She needs a ride back to the school. On the way there, they make out. HARD. When they get back to the school, everyone can see them together. They definitely see the two of them kiss each other goodbye.

Grace, who Eva says is always voted “Bitchiest Girl in Class”, watches. The movie does a very bizarre thing. After Eva sits next to Grace and seemingly expects the Bitchiest Girl in Class to not be a bitch, we get a quick replay of Grace laughing at Kathy during the prank, then it fades to black for a solid 3 or 4 seconds. Then we see the girls on a field trip to an art museum.

Eva has apparently orchestrated a whole thing with Grace discovering she’s missing an earring. So they have to sneak back into the museum after it closes. Against Grace’s wishes, Eva goes upstairs to look for the missing earring while Grace is left alone on the first floor of the dark museum. As Eva runs up the stairs, she disappears. How can she do that? I dunno.

Grace then sees this painting at the top of the stairs of a man stabbing someone and this baby biting another person and so on. She sees a hand cut off from someone in the painting and it lands in front of her. Then the painting begins to bleed all over her face. But then it all goes back to normal. In the next gallery Grace walks into looking for Eva, she is locked inside with a bunch of exhumed skeletons and stuff. She then sees the decapitated head of Kathy being held by a statue of Perseus. There’s also a big giant snake that’s come alive from another sculpture. While Grace is attacked by a statue come to life in the museum, Kathy’s eyes open in the hospital. Her eyes close again after Grace has been killed by that statue falling on her and crushing her.

The next day, Eva is questioned by the school’s faculty. She claimed she didn’t go inside with how dark the museum was. The faculty tells Eva to go back to her room and rest. One thing we know from when Eva arrived at the school is that she suffered a nervous breakdown during the somewhat recent past. The faculty is worried about her mental health.

Well, it just so happens that Dr. Anderson is a brain and emotion doctor. Miss Jones arranges with the good doctor to remove Eva from the school and be directly under his supervision. This is for the reputation of the school, of course. However, when Eva learns about this, it makes her lady bits vibrate and she’s real happy to be living with this hunk of medical machismo.

Anderson begins asking questions of Eva to try to understand some of the things she’s been going through. On top of that, he’s trying to connect the dots between her and Kathy. He asks when she might have met Kathy. He asks her about Boston and New Orleans. Eva claims to be from Boston but doesn’t know the names of any of the rivers or monuments or landmarks of the city. It’s like her memories are in direct conflict with someone else’s memories.

What’s more, Anderson is becoming almost bewitched by Eva. He’s overly horny for her. Even when he first tried to resist her wiles, he succumbed to her relatively easily. He is barely able to resist making out with her all over the place. He has vividly sexy dreams about her that turn violent. For instance, they have sweaty sex on a hospital gurney where she begins to claw at him and then bites one of his nipples off. It gets pretty concerning as she continues to bite pieces of him off.

“That is one spooky chick.”

Anderson goes to the school to check in on Eva. Jenny tells him that Eva’s mother came to pick her up. Miss Jones notified her parents because of the various rebellious disturbances Eva caused. Eva has been put back into the mental hospital where she once was before coming to Saint Mary’s College.

She writes Anderson a letter at some point after being at the hospital. She misses him greatly. However, Anderson is a bit of a bird dog. You see, he’s now flirting heavily with Eva’s former roommate, Jenny.

I’m sure Eva/Kathy will take this well.

Now, before you start to question what the hell is going on with this Dr. Anderson fucker, this is actually in character. When he first started romancing Eva, she noticed he was checking out Grace. Later, he did check out Jenny when the three of them were in the same dorm together. So, yeah, Anderson is a fucker.

And I think Kathy is starting to realize this too…

So yeah, Kathy is acting even more bizarrely in her coma. Eva is writing obsessively unhinged love letters to Anderson. Anderson is fucking around with Jenny. Jenny was one of the girls who pranked Kathy, but she has been the only one to show any remorse. Mary is still stalking around the halls of Saint Mary’s. Kathy has reached out to communicate with her dear ol’ mum. She sees Eva, who has returned to the college. Mary finally speaks to acknowledge that Eva is her poor daughter.

Revenge is not over, though. Kim and her boyfriend Tom are sneaking around the school. They were maybe the worst of the perpetrators of the prank because they were the ones who helped Kathy get prettied up and ready for her fateful date. While Eva stalks Tom and Kim, Anderson and Jenny are about to fuck in his office at the hospital.

Kim takes a shower after the fuckin’s and she finds Tom’s decapitated body. She tries to go to other dorm rooms for help, but she keeps only seeing into her room where Tom’s headless body is lying in bed. She then sees a vision of Kathy telling Kim that she’s waiting for her and it causes her to fall out her window to her death.

Also… Tom Cruise approves.

But what’s this?!? Tom is actually not dead! That’s just Kathy’s reality-warping powers. Tom wakes up looking for Kim, but finds her body on the ground. While his head is outside the window looking at Kim, a steel shutter falls down onto him and chops his head off to join his lover’s body.

So… I guess he did get decapitated after all.

At the hospital, Jenny can’t go through with the sexings. The reason is, yeah, Anderson constantly has a television monitor on the poor girl that Jenny had a hand in putting into that coma. So she’s not so sure about wanting to fuck in front of that. She decides to return to the school. Just as she’s about to go into her room where the watching Eva/Kathy will likely get her, Jenny decides that she should go back to Dr. Anderson at the hospital.

When she gets back, the security guy at reception sends her back to his office. But this is the kind of hospital that apparently closes each night because it’s pretty dark and hard to find your way around. As Jenny traverses the dark hallways, she hears moans and aches from who knows who or what.

She gets turned around and suddenly finds herself in an elevator that will take her to the Neurology section of the hospital. She ends up in a room with marble walls and marble slabs with dead bodies on it. Right before her eyes, the elevator seems to disappear leaving her with no way out of the room with the dead people. Eva greets Jenny. Eva tells Jenny she could do whatever she wants to her. She could kill her a thousand different ways.

Meanwhile, Anderson gets a call from the receptionist guy and learns that Jenny showed up a half hour ago to see him and he’s seen no one. Just before Eva can stab Jenny with a knife the first time, Dr. Anderson is able to get into the marble room and takes a slash from the knife on the arm. She rears back to stab again, but she collapses. Why? Because momma Mary has realized what her comatose daughter has been up to. She removed all the I.V.s and life support stuff and let her daughter finally die.

Oh and Eva died too. Bummer.

This is totally a Lucio Fulci flick. It’s not exactly good. It doesn’t really make any sense. But, goddamn, it is watchable. It’s not the typical gory stuff that Fulci is typically known for. He didn’t go for any eyeball stuff in this movie. All that said, this movie is definitely about as clear as mud on the plot. So, yeah, very Fulci.

It’s unclear if Kathy had those powers before the coma or if the defibrillator caused her to have the powers. It’s really murky on whether or not Kathy was also kind of controlling her mother to do things too. She had those red eyes. What was that? Did her mom have powers too? It’s unknown at what point ol’ mother decided that her daughter was a real bad thing to keep alive or if she simply was able to let go of her after speaking to her in Eva’s body. We don’t know why Eva died when Kathy died unless Eva was a projection or something created by Kathy, but then that doesn’t make any sense because Eva had parents who took her to the mental hospital.

There’s a lot here to unpack is what I’m getting at.

And then there’s all the stuff about how shitty everyone is in this movie. The joke played on Kathy is horrible and it all stemmed from the “hunk” gym teacher not liking this girl crushing on him and following him around. So they did a terrible thing that lands this girl in a coma. They got what they deserve, but along the way, we need the Kathy-possessed Eva to come in and kind of also be an asshole. At least Jenny started to grow some scruples over what happened, and does come clean to Dr. Anderson.

Then there’s Dr. Anderson. He’s got a thing for younger women. He shows up on campus and is bird-doggin’ chicks left and right. He’s gonna date Eva, but he’s gonna check out the other students too. He’ll date Eva right up until she’s hauled off to the mental institution. At that point, despite him being a neurologist, he’s ready to move in on her roommate.

It’s real easy to basically hate everyone in the movie. I don’t hate Mary. She’s just an unfortunate soul too. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I don’t hate Miss Jones. She needed Eva to get help or get gone because she’s causing a problem at the school. I get it. I guess Miss Jones and their hot teacher Miss Fitzpatrick were lovers too, but we don’t follow that thread AT ALL.

At least we got to see Virginia snailed.

This is the part of the article in which I tell you to do things. You should follow B-Movie Enema on Facebook and Twitter. I also recommend you subscribe to the B-Movie Enema YouTube Channel. Why? Because Season 3 of B-Movie Enema: The Series is coming in hot and fast on Saturday, May 7. There are 17 movies for you to spend the summer watching, and if you want to be able to see every single episode, even the ones that YouTube takes down for silly reasons, then I recommend you do one (or both) of the following – subscribe to the B-Movie Enema Vimeo channel or add the B-Movie Enema Roku channel.

Next time, we’re going to pack our bags and head off for a corporate training retreat thing with the recently departed Yvette Mimieux as she indoctrinates us into the Circle of Power.

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