HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
Star, The
Tom & Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  Phenomena An everyday tale of psychic bugs, razor-wielding chimps and deformed kidsBuy this film here.
Year: 1985
Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Daria Nicolodi, Patrick Bauchau, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Federica Mastroianni, Fiorenza Tessari, Mario Donatone, Francesca Ottaviani, Michele Soavi
Genre: Horror, Weirdo, Fantasy
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Terror strikes a sleepy, Swiss valley! A stranded tourist (Daddy’s girl, Fiore Argento) is butchered by a mysterious killer. Sleepwalking, American teen Jennifer (Jennifer Connelly) witnesses a second murder. Bullied at school by callous classmates and her haughty headmistress (Dalila Di Lazzaro), dreamy Jen’s closest friends are insects – with whom she shares a psychic bond. She befriends kindly entomologist Doctor Macgregor (Donald Pleasence) and his faithful chimpanzee, whom clueless cops assign to crack the case. Macgregor utilizes Jennifer’s powers, summoning the Great Sarcophagus Fly to locate a vital clue.

Dario Argento’s everyday tale of psychic bugs, razor-wielding chimps and deformed children was much maligned in its day. Even Argento scholars Alan Jones and Maitland McDonagh showed little love. Partly because the international version, Creepers was cut down to an incomprehensible 83 minutes. But also because Phenomena puts one foot in the detective-thriller genre and another in a far-out, fantastical wonderland where anything can happen and usually does. Fond childhood memories of its off-kilter charms and achingly lovely Connelly colour one’s own opinion, but naysayers be damned! Phenomena is a delirious, tour-de-force featuring some of Argento’s most fevered imaginings. The eerie opening where poor Fiore meets the dungeon-dwelling killer is like a fairytale that turns nasty. Argento and cinematographer Romano Albani weave indelible images: the idyllic, Swiss surroundings; the slicker-clad killer; insects swarming around Connelly while a supernatural winds sweeps her hair (Optical effects by sci-fi filmmaker, Luigi Cozzi). Unlike many horror hacks, Argento didn’t take the easy route of making gloopy bugs and the angry ape villains. His kooky concepts coalesce into the amazing finale, a horror symphony of buried secrets, maggot pits, no less than two heroic rescues (by insect cavalry and chimpanzee) and gory shocks aplenty (including a nod to Scatman Crothers’ fate in The Shining (1980)). It’s a pure nightmare on film following its own loopy logic.

Deficiencies include Patrick Bauchau’s somnambulant performance as an ineffectual cop, and some awful heavy metal songs that derail the atmosphere. Claudio Simonetti’s synth-driven score featuring operatic vocals is better suited to the baroque wackiness. Di Lazzaro (memorable as the beautiful ‘monster’ in Flesh for Frankenstein (1973)) is underused, saddled with a very confusing character. Daria Nicolodi’s bug eyed, face pulling has been much criticized, but befits her role as a wicked witch. Phenomena is surprisingly personal and thematically rich, dealing with fragmented families, absentee fathers, and a fairytale, rite of passage where our heroine must slay an evil child to transcend her own adolescence. His ex-wife Nicolodi and daughter Fiore are a deliberate presence in Argento’s nightmare. And remember, those gloved hands attacking Fiore are Argento’s own. Thankfully, recent signs show horror fans are reappraising Argento’s forgotten masterpiece. Sandwiched between fan favourites Tenebrae (1982) and Opera (1987), it is a warmer, more heartfelt film than either and often exhilarating.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3097 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Dario Argento  (1940 - )

Italian horror maestro who began his film career as a critic, before moving into the world of screenwriting, collaborating most notably with Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci on the script of Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West (1968). Argento's first film as director, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) set the template for much of his subsequent work - inventive camerawork, sly wit, violent murder set-pieces, and a convoluted whodunnit murder plot. He perfected his art in this genre with Deep Red in 1975, before proceeding to direct the terrifying Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), the first two parts of a loose trilogy of supernatural chillers that were finally completed with Mother of Tears in 2007.

Since then, Argento has pretty much stuck to what he knows best, sometimes successfully with Tenebrae and Opera, sometimes, usually in the latter half of his career, less so (Trauma, Sleepless, Dracula), but always with a sense of malicious style.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: