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Phenomena

PHENOMENA
Blu-Ray. Arrow.

Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly), the daughter of a famous actor, is sent to The Richard Wagner School for Girls in the heart of the ‘Swiss Transylvania’, where a serial killer is bumping off the local girls with the aid of a nifty spear/knife. While sleepwalking one night she witnesses the serial killer in action and after narrowly escaping, she is helped by wheelchair bound entomologist Professor John McGregor (Donald Pleasence) and his chimp housemaid.

McGregor has been called in by the local police to help catch the serial killer as the type and life cycle of the insects found on the body can determine how long the victim has been dead. Corvino on the other hand has a telekinetic link to insects! This results in the Headmistress, her classmates and the murderer all wanting her put away.

Perhaps the strangest film in Argento’s canon, Phenomena is a demented fairy tale with stalk ‘n’ slash killings and a cutthroat razor-wielding chimp. Connelly puts in a strong performance as the young lead and Pleasence is reliably solid though hammy in places, as is Daria Nicolodi. Goblin go all metal with the score, aided and abetted by Iron Maiden among others. As usual there are some striking visuals especially during the sleepwalking scenes and the Swiss landscape is a beautiful backdrop.

PhenomenaFor Argento virgins this isn’t his most accessible film and the final 20 minutes are plain batshit crazy - even for Argento! But it is overlooked in my opinion and perhaps next to Opera one of his last truly great films.

Arrow’s Blu Ray looks great, apart from some of the darker shots where there is masses of noticeable grain; this is most apparent during the first murder where the girl’s head is pushed through the plate glass (not like Argento that! Is it?). The extras are a 50 min making of, an interview with composer Claudio Simonetti and a live Q &A with special effects man Sergio Stivaletti - not as blessed as Arrow’s other releases on the extras front but they are interesting - if again poorly shot. Oh, and a note to the makers of the extras, please cut those bloody cartoon opening titles down or speed them up as they do go on a bit.

All in all another solid package from Arrow.

PHILLIP NICHOLSON

BUY IT NOW (UK) DVD BLU-RAY

BUY IT NOW (USA)

 

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