Home Video Hovel: Enigma Rosso, by David Bax
With its stiff line readings and hilarious, inexplicably timed musical stings, you could say Alberto Negrin’s Enigma Rosso (also known as Rings of Fear, Red Rings of Fear and Virgin Killer, among other names) is awkward. What’s worse, though, is that it’s probably the absolute nicest thing you could say about it. This murder mystery slasher flick, out now on Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing, is so onanistically exploitative as to be morally questionable.
When a teenage boarding school student is found brutally murdered, Inspector Di Salvo (Fabio Testi) is assigned to the case. On a tip from the dead girl’s younger sister, he focuses his investigation on the deceased three best friends and uncovers an underworld conspiracy of vice and violence.
Negrin’s few effective touches in Enigma Rosso come in the strokes of horror. The discovery of the body, wrapped in plastic, predates the iconic image of Laura Palmer. And, more potently, Negrin returns again and again to shots of a statue of a nun in the boarding school until the form’s face, eyes and arms begin to take on a subliminal significance and unknown menace.
Don’t be misled, though. Those elements take up but a fraction of the runtime of Enigma Rosso. The rest of the movie is concerned not just with the naked flesh of young women but, disturbingly, with the sexual violation of it. When the girls hit the showers after gym class and one of them yells, “Last one to take her clothes off is a bitch!”, it’s funny to mock the bald prurience. But when one of those words shows up again later–when Di Salvo refers to the students as “These little bitches”–it becomes clear what Negrin really thinks about these female characters. The salacious sexual violence of the murder itself (the graphic details of which I will spare you here) confirms it; this nasty, trashy work of pure misogyny actually expects us to enjoy this.
Scorpion’s transfer here doesn’t provide any reason to purchase this Blu-ray either. It’s a new scan of the original negative but it appears as if no real restoration work was done. Line and scratches abound. The audio is available in either Italian or English, both mono. At least the score sounds good, as weird and misplaced as it is.
The only special feature on the disc (not even a trailer!) is an audio commentary by film historian Nathaniel Thompson.