Trauma is a Giallo film released in 1993, directed by the master Dario Argento. It stars his daughter Asia Argento, Piper Laurie, and Brad Dourif. Aura Petrescu (Argento), an anorexic girl, who escapes from a mental asylum to find the killers of her parents. She is aided in this quest by David (Christopher Lydell) who works an artist for a news channel.
Wasn't regarded too well by audiences upon release primarily because Argento toned down (but didn't eliminate) his stylistic flourishes. But it's reputation has improved due to a well-maintained mystery, suspense and the usual flair exhibited by Argento.
This film contains the following tropes:
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Scientific evidence has suggested that it is actually possible for a severed head to remain alive for a few seconds after being separated from the body. (Speaking and screaming without lungs, however, is not.)
- Amateur Sleuth: David starts investigating the Head Hunter killings by himself when Aura comes to him after the deaths of her parents.
- Artistic License Biology: Some victims are able to speak and scream even after their heads are separated from their bodies.
- Ax-Crazy: The killer, Adriana Petrascu though not for lack of reason.
- Black Dude Dies First: The very first victim is a black chiropracter who gets beheaded in her own office.
- Big Bad: The Head Hunter killer, Adriana Petrascu.
- Big Damn Heroes: Arnie, the boy living next door to the killer, ends up beheading the killer with her own decapitation device when she is about to kill David and Aura.
- Dead Star Walking: Piper Laurie is billed third but gets killed off in barely twenty minutes. Subverted. Turns out not only is she Faking the Dead, she is the killer.
- Decapitation Presentation: Aura becomes tangled with the Head Hunter killings when she comes across the headless body of her mother, and then sees the killer holding up her parents' heads, which obfuscates his features. The trope is played straight with her father's head, but is subverted with her mother, who is actually the killer. The body on the ground belongs to someone else, and she is holding her own head in such way that it makes Aura think that she is seeing her mother's decapitated head being displayed on front of the killer.
- Drop the Hammer: Some victims get pacified with hammer blows from the killer before getting decapitated.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The killer is decapitated with her own garrotte device.
- Infant Immortality: A horrific aversion of this trope kicks off the killings in the first place.
- Interrupted Suicide: Aura is introduced as she tries to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge but David ends up saving her.
- Losing Your Head: One of the beheading victims talks to David while her head is separated from her body.
- Off with His Head!: The killer uses an improvised garrotte (called "noose-o-matic" behind the scenes) to behead the victims. Turns out Adriana's baby was accidentally beheaded by Dr. Lloyd who along with his fellow nurses and Adriana's husband chose to use electroshock therapy on her to get rid of that memory, which didn't quite work.
- Pet the Dog: The killer is shown petting a cat before another bloody murder, and even starts taking care of the lizards that belonged to the first victim.
- Secret Keeper: Dr. Judd, who also ends up taking the fall for Adriana's killings for a while.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Adriana Petrascu, whose murderous rampage stems from the death of her baby.