Anyone thats been reading this blog for any length of time will now I am a huge fan of Italian director Dario Argento. This one, Phenomena is from 1985 and has some impressive star power with Jennifer Connelly (of Labyrinth fame) and Donald Pleasance (from the Halloween movies). One of Argento’s most famous and beloved works is Suspiria, and this one has a very similar feel just moved forward a few years.
Jennifer Connelly plays Jennifer (Nice and easy for her) who joins a Girls academy (again, very similar to Suspiria). She settles in with her flat mate into the academy, turns out her room mate is a big fan of her actor father. Jennifer also seems to have some strange power over insects. This is Jennifer Connelly’s first feature role in a film, the year before Labyrinth. It adds an air of uneasy sultriness to the film, as Connelly would have only been 15, but is already looking pretty close to adult. In my opinion she looks more grown here than in Labyrinth. Both her and Pleasance don’t play roles much different from their previous roles. I find this adds a strange air of familiarity to the film. While she is at the academy students are being killed one by one. Essentially this is a slasher film, but shot with Argento’s usual style. Can Jennifer and her insect familiars stop the killing? Well, I guess you’ll have to watch the film to find out!
The film has a creepy feel to it, with some backing music by Goblin (responsible for Dawn of the dead and many Italian horror flicks) and most notably British legends Iron Maiden and Motorhead which would have been a huge score for both parties involved.
Something else I didn’t realise is that Argento had started experimenting with “Macro Photography” in this film. A technique which utilises scientific cameras that can shoot 1000 frames per second versus the normal 28 or so that most filming techniques use. This is further testament to his visionary film making. That sounds impressive now, but think back to 1985 and how much of a jump in tech this would have been then! I wonder though, if the human eye can or the VHS / Film technology of the time could even pick this up?
THE VERDICT ON PHENOMENA
Phenomena is one great movie. I might be slightly biased though. It is masterfully shot by Argento and a gripping watch the whole way through. The acting is pretty good from all the major parites involved as well. The soundtrack is rather excellent too, if I ever see it around i’ll by that too!
For more great horror movie reviews be sure to keep checking back on https://www.gorenography.com on a regular basis!