“Phenomena” aka “Creepers” (1985)

phenomena-1985

A lot of my friends love this film.A lot more love the soundtrack.The music of Iron Maiden,Goblin and Motorhead in the same film? Whats not to love? I’m going to be honest.I’m not the biggest fan of this one.It’s not bad, but it’s also not mind blowing.I’m somewhat split down the middle so to speak.Phenomena, released in 1985 is somewhat of a mixed bag from Dario Argento.

The films strongest point is the camerawork.Argento’s first use of steadicam is really well executed.For the films sleepwalking sequence you feel as if you’re in a dream, much like some of the same effects from Tenebrae. During this time period in his career he certainly proved that he  could adapt to some of the the changes and advances in cinematic technology.He would further prove this point with his 1987 film Terror At The Opera.Much of the films visual effects and imagery are very well done.For most shots done inside he utilized low lighting to its fullest potential.

Utilizing a cast of literally thousands of insects and a well trained chimpanzee.Is something else that I’ve always found intriguing.However, the whole notion of insects being telepathic I just couldn’t wrap my head around.I found it more comical than anything else.Also, I seriously doubt a chimpanzee would know how to use a razor blade effectively to stop a sadistic serial killer.But hey, it is make believe, right?

Speaking of the cast, that’s a whole new subject to talk about.The lead in the film is a young student named Jennifer, played by a then 14 year old Jennifer Connolly.This was only her second film, and believe me it shows.She wasn’t a bad actress, but you can tell she’s still learning the ropes.I’m not going to lie.The scene where she talks to a swarm of flies manifesting outside the school she’s attending and tells them “I love you, I love you all” cracks me up every time.

Another edition to the cast is Donald Pleasence as entomologist Dr.John MacGregor.Even though Pleasence did star in a fair amount of horror films, he always treated every role with dignity and class.A professional in every sense of the word.However, Whenever him and Connolly are on screen together, I always end up chuckling a little.He helps Jennifer develop her telekinetic link with the insect world.When he sends her off with a firefly to look for the most recent victim of a serial killer, who is played very convincingly by Daria Nicoladi.He refers to the pair as his “two detectives”, I don’t know which line is funnier that one or “That insect is your magic wand”

To be fair, Argento is a director who favors visual style over plot and acting.So while it might not be a element of the film people tend to focus on.I still find it quite entertaining.The film on a whole is very visual.But I also felt that there were several moments that felt bland,dry and took away from the films atmosphere.

Give it a watch for yourself.You might draw the same conclusions I did, Or you might completely disagree with everything I just wrote.

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