Back in The summer of either 85 or 86 my family and I would go to the Drive-In. They would always show three films. The one sandwiched in-between a new release and an older film was usually a horror or exploitation film. One of those I saw and still remember was called Creepers. I remembered it always because I hate bugs. I swore there were things crawling over me for weeks after viewing this.
As I got older I began renting more and more horror films. That soon turned into ordering uncut versions from ads in the back of Fangoria magazine from the various companies who advertised with them. There I discovered that the bug movie I saw was called Phenomena and was directed by Dario Argento, a film maker I was getting more and more into. It also turns out the version that creeped me out as a kid had over 30min cut out of it. So I ordered the old bootleg VHS and watched it in all it's blurry glory.
Phenomena is the story of Jennifer a young girl who we learn can communicate with insects and actually get them to do her bidding. When we meet Jennifer (played by Jennifer Connelly) she is on her way to a boarding school. Once there after she's all settled in we learn that she sleepwalks. One night durring one of her walks she witness a murder and runs off into the nearby woods. While wandering around lost she meets John McGregor (played by Donald Pleaseance) and his assistant chimpanzee Inga. He watches how Jennifer can communicate telepathically with insects and asks her to help him on a case he's working on with the local authorities.
Turns out there is a serial killer on the loose who has been murdering young girls and Jennifer's is able to have the insects she can communicate with lead her to the corpses of the victims. Of course this is deemed evil by the schools headmistress and leads to torment from the other girls. It all climaxes in spetacular gory fashion with a twist ending that you won't see coming.
Part Giallo, part horror, part sci-fi Phenomena is one of Dario's Argentos most impressive films. Mobile camera shots, slow motion, multiple views from the insects eyes it blends not only Argentos style but incorporates elements of Depalma and Fulci as well.
The gore scenes which are presented fully uncut are truly remarkable. Using practical effects we see beheadings, stabbings, a maggot bath sequence, you name it. Throw in not only a throbbing synth score by Goblin, but a mix of Moterhead, and Iron Maiden and you have one hell of an atmospheric film.
Synapse has release this film fully uncut in a beautiful Blu-ray double disc set. The colors and sound are vibrant to say the least as the insects seem to be flying off of the screen, and with surround sound you will swear they are flying and at times crawling around the room.
Synapse has also spared no expense when it comes to the special features. You get all this
THREE different cuts of PHENOMENA, all available in high-definition for the first time ever in one collector's edition package!
Audio Commentary Track on PHENOMENA (110 Version) from Argento scholar and author, Derek Botelho and film historian, journalist and radio/television commentator, David Del Valle
Two completely different sound mix options on PHENOMENA (110 Version), including the original 2.0 stereo mix, along with a rare alternate mix containing different sound effects and music cues.
English/Italian Hybrid Audio and Complete Italian Audio Options for PHENOMENA (116 Version)
DARIO ARGENTO’S WORLD OF HORROR – Documentary. A fascinating look at the early films of director Dario Argento, including PHENOMENA, SUSPIRIA, DEMONS, DAWN OF THE DEAD, INFERNO and many more! Containing candid interviews and awesome behind-the-scenes footage, DARIO ARGENTO’S WORLD OF HORROR gives us a look into the mind of Italy’s Master of Horror and is an essential viewing experience for all Argento fans.
Interview with Andi Sex Gang
PHENOMENA – International Theatrical Trailer
CREEPERS – U.S. Theatrical Trailer & Radio Spots
Optional English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard for Hearing on PHENOMENA (110 Version and CREEPERS Version)
Multiple optional subtitle selections on PHENOMENA (116 Version), including one for just the foreign English language segments of the hybrid version, complete English subtitles for the entire feature, and complete English subtitles for the Italian version of the film.
This is definitely a must see/must own. Order this now and see why Argento calls this his favorite film.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars