31 days of Horror: “Phenomena” (1985)



Title: Phenomena [Blu-ray]
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Posted October 18, 2016 by

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What would an October of movie watching be, without Dario Argento? Not as insane, I can tell you that. Love them or hate them, his films are undeniably, straight up crazy.  While I don’t love all of his films (actually I don’t love the majority of them), there are a few all-timers in his catalogue. I was going to do “Deep Red”, or maybe one of his lesser known flicks, but the I realized I hadn’t seen my favorite Argento flick, “Phenomena”, in nearly five years. It is one of those films that you watch and say “Who else but Argento?”.

The film centers on a young woman named Jennifer Corvino (Connelly), who arrives at an all girl boarding school, that is very reminiscent of the school in Argento’s most infamous film, “Suspiria”. The strange, Swiss area is said to have winds that drive people mad, and soon it is obvious that, that is true. There is a deranged killer, who is hunting down all of the town’s young women and well… keeping the bodies for himself. Thankfully, Jennifer has a pretty cool superpower of seeing through the eyes of insects, and being able to summon them at will. With help, from some truly bizarre characters, Jennifer goes to work investigating the murders.

phenomena-2Like many of Argento’s other films, “Phenomena” is a love/hate kind of film. Most critics call it his worst film, and even many die hard Argentophiles scoff at the mere mention of it. Admittedly, there are more than a few off the wall ideas at work here, and at times the dialogue is close to laughable. For most of the movie’s 116 minutes (we are discounting the butchered, 82 minute, American version titled”Creepers”), it seems like the famed writer/director just threw a bunch of random, weird ideas into a blender and hit puree. Did I mention this is all set to a heavy metal soundtrack, with tuned from the likes of Iron Maiden? More than enough strangeness to bother even the most understanding horror fan.

As I often say, though, popular opinion be damned! Sure “Phenomena” is self-indulgent, and sure there are a lot of elements that clash, but damn if it isn’t a fun, roller coaster ride of a movie! It is a mess, but it is a wonderful mess. There are Man-child mutants, crazy chimpanzees, abusive schoolgirls, and mind control over insects. How can you not love that?!





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