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Phenomena Reviews

Reviewed By: Patrick Legare

Bugs, blood, and rock & roll are the orders of the day in this creepy-crawly shocker from Dario Argento. Jennifer Connelly plays a teenager with a gift for communicating with insects -- a talent that comes in handy when she is sent to a Swiss boarding school where a killer has been slaughtering the students. Definitely not for the squeamish, Phenomena contains a series of bold, bloody special effects that are graphically captured by cinematographer Romano Albini. Among the best is the opening sequence in which a girl is stabbed on the observatory deck of a waterfall. The butchery amidst the natural beauty provides a chilling visual contrast while the camera holds on to a tremendous shot of the girl shattering a glass partition. The story, written by Argento and Franco Ferrini, is basically a twist on the serial killer formula, but it is effective because of the filmmaker's great sense of style and suspense. The revelation of the killer is well done and is just one of many fantastic shocks included in a scary, extended climax that features a pit of decomposed bodies, a decapitation, a monstrous mutant-child, a deadly insect swarm, and a razor-wielding monkey. In true Argento style, many scenes are backed by a heavy metal soundtrack that includes Iron Maiden and Motorhead, among others. Connelly has certainly grown as an actress since Phenomena, but her striking looks help to carry her performance. Donald Pleasence is excellent to watch, as always, although he is murdered in rather boring fashion considering Argento's talent for creative murder scenes. The costumes were done by Giorgio Armani. Version reviewed is the full 110-minute original cut. The bloodless U.S. version is titled Creepers and runs only 82 minutes.