November 14, 2016

Blu-ray Review: Phenomena (1986)

"The 2nd best Argento flick ever."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087909/
As the movies of Dario Argento go, Phenomena stands as our 2nd favorite behind only Suspiria.

Maybe it's not his 2nd best movie, and maybe Suspiria isn't even his best (it's all subjective, really), but for us, there's just something about this one that has always brought us to our happy place as Horror fans.

The fact that Jennifer Connelly and Donald Pleasance are in it probably has a lot to do with it. Then again there's the monkey with the straight-razor; the awesome Goblin score; the repeated use of Flash of the Blade by Iron Maiden; the creepy mutant kid; the kill scenes...

For us, Phenomena is just one of the definitive 80's Horror flicks, and one of our favorite Italian gorefests of all-time.

*This review was originally posted in 2008, but we've brought it back to the top to coincide with the new Blu-ray release from Synapse, because it's a cool 80's flick that deserves the love. 

Snooty American Schoolgirl Hottie, Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly was older than me when this was made, so I can call her hot and it's not creepy!), is shipped off to a Swiss boarding school by daddy, and good old fashioned Giallo goodness is unleashed!

YOU SNOTTY/YUMMY LITTLE MYNX!
Almost no one at her school likes her, mainly because she's creepy; she can talk to, and command insects to do her bidding; she dates a crippled guy (the ever-wonderful Donald Pleasance) who has an insane chimp as a pet; she sleepwalks in the middle of random acid trips; and she's a bit of a snotty bitch.

"WANNA SEE WHY THEY CALL ME ROLLNG THUNDER?"
She does make one friend though; a strange foreign girl who chain-smokes and wants to have sex with Jennifer's dad. Unfortunately, that doesn't last very long, as a killer who is knocking off random Schoolgirls makes her pay! Pay for what, you may ask? I have no idea, and I've seen this thing 20 times. Stop asking.

SHE SHOULD DEFINITELY HEAD TOWARDS THAT HOUSE...
Along the way (to where?!?), Jennifer gets into all sorts of zany adventures; she plays with bugs, falls into a pit of maggots and body parts, forces herself to vomit, takes Tae-Bo lessons, plays with a laser-guided chimp, and teams up with a fly to track down the killer's stash of corpses at the urging of her crippled pedophile boyfriend. I won't ruin the ending for you here (or the 19 twists that wouldn't make sense even if I did), but suffice it to say that mongoloids and bees aren't friends. Also, fire spreads really easy over water. Also, why was the killer even killing in the first place!?!

YEAH, GO OVER THERE AND TAP HIM ON THE SHOULDER.
Dario Argento is a Master of Horror, without a doubt. Most Giallo/Italian Horror flicks make little sense, but they don't need to; they're so packed with atmosphere, wild color schemes, creepy and grandiose music, and excess amounts of gore, that they make you forget how confused you are by their messy plotlines. Argento does all of this better than any other. If you can manage to take these kind of films for what they are and not demand perfection, then you'll be pleased. If not, then go rent Scream.

Phenomena manages to keep the tension at a good level, and delivers on the gore. The use of a chimp and swarms of insects puts a neat twist on things, and makes the movie creepier. Using Iron Maiden's Flash of the Blade was a brilliant musical choice as well.

Donald Pleasance is a Horror God: The Halloween movies, Price of Darkness, Escape From New York, just to name a few... he always delivers, and manages to raise the level of some less-than-great movies just by his presence. He shines in this one as well. It's truly a shame that he's no longer with us.

Of course, Jennifer Connelly makes this one instantly better as well. I won't dwell on her too much here, because you can see our tribute to her in the Horror Hottie section; but she kicked ass in this one.

"YOU'RE ALL MY CHILDREN NOW." YEAH, WE KNOW KNOW, JC, WE KNOW.
As with most Euro-Horror fare, especially that of the Italian variety, plot holes are abound in this one, and it's chalked with confusion aplenty. I feel like saying "Ahoy" next, as that would somehow make this section quirky. Never mind.

WTF?!?!
This mongoloid kid-thing! What in the hell was that all about?

MONGOLOID MIKE IS IN THIS.
The insects add another level of gross to Phenomena, especially with the maggot pit scene. There are plenty of good old fashioned Giallo gore moments here as well, the best of them coming via straight-razor at the film's end.

SHE'S GOING TO GET AN INFECTION FROM SWIMMING IN THAT.
JC was only 15 when this movie came out, so no nudity in this one. She got plenty naked in other movies later in her career though, so no big deal.

SHE'S ALWAYS LOVE A GOOD PEARL NECKLACE.
Our copy of this one is still on the way from Synapse, but it looks as if they've got another hit on their hands with this 3-Disc, Collector's Edition Steelbook.

We'll post about it once we've had a chance to watch through it all, but I can safely say that even though it's pricey, it's one disc that Horror fans should spend a little extra on to own. 

SUCH VISUALS.
Don't ever piss off a chimp with a straight-razor. Also, Argento is God. Also, Jennifer Connelly is a Goddess.

GO, TONGA, GO!
Standard Italian Horror shortcomings aside, Phenomena is a phenomenal movie, and a Must Own for any Horror fan, especially fans of 80's Horror or Giallo.

A

You can buy Phenomena on Blu-ray directly from synapse, HERE. It's limited to 3000 copies, so act fast.

Jennifer Connelly was my first crush as a kid, and she turned into one of the hottest chicks of all time. Don't agree? Well you're wrong!

2 comments :

  1. God I miss hot Connelly. She stopped eating a while ago and broke my heart :(

    ReplyDelete