PHENOMENA (1985) DVD
Release Date: March 7th 2011
Label: Arrow Video
Duration: 115 min.
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence
Tagline: Jennifer Has A Few Million Close Friends. She's Going To Need Them All.
Plot: Poor sleepwalking Jennifer Corvino (Connelly) doesn’t fit in at her boarding school and her uncanny ability to control insects isn’t helping her popularity. With the aid of a local entomologist (Pleasence), can she use her psychic insect skills to find the killer who’s leaving her fellow pupils in bloody pieces?
Film: Phenomena is the third of what has become known as Dario Argento's animals trilogy; a trio of films beginning with the giallo classic The Bird with the Crystal Plumage(1970), Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) and ending with Phenomena (1985). The film was released following Tenebre (1982), one of my favorite Argento films, a stylish Giallo classic. Originally released here in the states in a severely cut version called Creepers this is a weird, dark fairytale that recalls many elements of Argento's supernatural thriller Suspiria (1977). The film begins as tourist Vera Grandt (Fiore Argento) misses a bus in the Swiss countryside. She approaches a nearby home in search assistance but when no one answers enters the house. Once inside she arouses the interest of something fiendish that's been chained to the wall. Whatever it is pulls the chains from the wall and attacks the young woman with a pair of scissors. She escapes the initial attack and runs madly through the forest to a nearby gorge where she is cornered and decapitated in a visually stunning manner, her head shattering a pane of glass in slow-mo and falling to the waterfall below. Months later Jennifer (Connolly) arrives at a nearby Swiss boarding school, definite shades of Suspiria. There she meets Frau Brucker (Daria Nicolodi), the stern headmistress (Dalilia Do Lazzaro) and her new roommate - even more shades of Suspira. Jennifer has a few odd quirks, she regularly sleepwalks plus she is able to telekinetically communicate with insects. Neat, a real lord of the flies. When she's sleepwalking she envisions a long white corridor with many doors, great surreal Argento visuals. During one of her episodes she unwittingly witnesses the murder of her roommate and during yet another nocturnal stroll wonders off school grounds where she encounters and befriends entomologist Dr. John McGregor (Donald Pleasance with a snazzy Scottish accent). McGregor is wheelchair bound and relies on his Chimpanzee named Inga to assist him. Inga is very helpful and super protective and later wields a straight razor on a revenge mission, it only gets weirder. McGregor and Jennifer form a bond over their shared love the insects and he warns her that a demented psychopath on the loose in the area killing young girls. Back at school Jennifer is not well-liked and less-so when her creepy affinity for insects is revealed when she summons a swarm of flies upon the school in a fit of anger. The headmistress is intent on having her committed to a psychiatric after the event but when the men in white arrive Jennifer has fleed to McGregor's who irresponsibly sends her in search of the killer armed only with a sarcophagus fly to aid in the detection of cadavers. The search for the killer obviously puts her in imminent danger which leads to a startling revelation and bizarre final confrontation on a boat with a fiendish freak and his mother.