Italian theatrical release poster
Directed byDario Argento
Screenplay byDario Argento
Eibon Klein
Ruth Jessup
Story byFranco Ferrini
Gianni Romoli
Dario Argento
Produced byDario Argento
Chris Beckman
David Pash
StarringChristopher Rydell
Asia Argento
Piper Laurie
Frederic Forrest
CinematographyRaffaele Mertes
Edited byBennett Goldberg
Dario Argento
Music byPino Donaggio
ADC Films
Overseas FilmGroup
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
12 March 1993
Running time
106 minutes
Budget$7 million (est.)

Trauma is a 1993 giallo horror film directed by Dario Argento and starring Asia Argento, Christopher Rydell, Piper Laurie, and Frederic Forrest.

It was one of two films Argento directed in the United States outside of his native Italy, the other being the 1990 anthology film Two Evil Eyes.


Aura Petrescu (Asia Argento), a young woman suffering from anorexia, escapes from a psychiatric hospital and meets a young man, David Parsons (Christopher Rydell), who offers to let her stay with him rather than go back to the hospital; however, Aura is soon caught, and her return to the hospital coincides with the start of a string of murders of hospital staff members, past and present. The killer decapitates them using a homemade garrote device on rainy days. When her father Stefan, is murdered along with her mother, Aura and David team up to find the killer.

In the end, it is revealed that Aura's mother, Adriana, who faked her death after murdering her husband, is the killer. Years earlier, Dr. Lloyd (Brad Dourif) was given the task of delivering Aura's brother, Nicolas. However, his clumsiness combined with a power outage (caused by a thunderstorm) led to him slicing off the newborn infant's head as he was being delivered. The head nurse during the delivery convinces the doctor to forcibly subject Adriana to electroshock treatment against her will, hoping that it would erase all memory of the botched delivery/death of her son, allowing for the staff to cover up their causing her child's death. Holding the two hostage, Adriana is ultimately killed by a young child who had discovered the mother's crimes, and ultimately uses her own murder device against her to save her captives.



Shot in and around Minneapolis, United States in August and September 1992 on a budget of $7 million,[1] Trauma is notable as Italian director Dario Argento's first feature-length American production, following his collaboration with George A. Romero in making Two Evil Eyes in 1990. Adapting the treatment devised by Gianni Romoli and long-time Argento collaborator Franco Ferrini, Argento chose T.E.D. Klein as his co-writer.

Special effects expert Tom Savini, who had previously worked on Two Evil Eyes, was recruited to produce the films extensive gore and prosthetic effects. Savini also created the film's central murder weapon, dubbed the "Noose-o-Matic" by the crew.[2] Savini devised a number of elaborate effects, but they were scrapped when Argento decided to minimize his trademark gore; according to Savini, "Edge-of-the-seat suspense is what he was after".[2] Savini was also set to appear in a scrapped pre-credits sequence where his character was to be decapitated in an accident, an event that would trigger the killer's psychosis.[2]

The character played by Asia Argento, timing showing she was 17 during filming, is inspired by her half-sister Anna (Daria Nicolodi's daughter from a previous marriage) who actually suffered from anorexia. Anna died in a scooter accident in 1994 shortly after the film's release, but she is seen in the actual movie during the closing credits dancing in the balcony.

Dario Argento's usual- collaborating rock-band Goblin were originally suggested to write and perform the music score for the film, but were declined by the American producers who wanted something more friendly to the American audience; therefore, Pino Donaggio's orchestral score was used.

Critical reception

Slant Magazine called Trauma "a bizarre, psychologically repressive thriller that smacks of lesser De Palma" that is "convoluted to the point of distraction, worth savoring solely for Argento's excesses of gore."[3] It currently has an approval rating of 57% on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 7 reviews.[4]

Alternate versions


  1. ^ Jones 2005, p. 215.
  2. ^ a b c Jones 2005, p. 221.
  3. ^ Gonzalez, Ed (5 December 2001). "Trauma – Film Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Trauma (Dario Argento's Trauma) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  5. ^ "TRAUMA rated 18 by the BBFC". Retrieved 29 July 2012.