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
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.
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.
IT NOW (UK) DVD
IT NOW (USA)