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Plot:

Jennifer Corvino, the daughter of a famous actor, has had trouble with sleepwalking for some time. Her doctor said that it can develop a split personality. She discovers her alternate personality when she stays at a boarding school that was once the home a Richard Wagner. But someone has been killing the students, and it relates only indirectly to the criminal sanitorium nearby. So it’s up to “the two greatest detectives the world has ever known, or should I say, unknown”

Also Known As: Dario Argento's Phenomena, Creepers, Jelenség, Fainomena, Феномен Soviet, Satánica inocencia, Fenómena, Fenomina, Phenomena, Nadnaravni pojavi, Fenomen, Phenomena - ilmiö, Феномен, Fenomeny

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25 Comments

  • joy
    Joy

    It would be nice if I could actually watch this movie. It doesn’t load an there’s an X in the middle of the screen. It’s below freezing here maybe adding more servers might help.

  • carrie-jones
    carrie jones

    this is the kind of movie you imagine in your mind, sometimes for years, not knowing if it even exists: well, it does!!! I have to say i have a thing for weird, strange, offbeat movies and this one rates right up there alongside with The Company of Wolves and others as one of my favourites. The eerie, dreamlike, wonderful atmosphere with a great score; a haunting performance by Jennifer Connely and some great memorable scenes, make this one a true classic. Without any doubt. Go out and see it.

  • sherry-solis
    sherry solis

    One good movie (Suspiria) and everybody starts adoring anything the guy does…If you wanna spend a boring, painful, pointless evening it might be a good idea to suffer through this movie. Rarely have i ever seen such masses of implausible, unlikely but story-convenient plot twists. Amazingly the movie somehow still manages to be predictable, by being cliché… To add to box-office and stupidity they even put in a monkey. The dialog is full of pointless mid sentence breaks. You get the feeling they were trying to stretch the movie or that the actors forgot their lines. Even worse often the dialog is simply pointless, unnecessary for the characters and the storyline: “Yes”,”No”,”YES”,”NO”,”YES”,”OK, OK YES”.However, the worst thing of all for me was the incredibly stupid and unlikely behavior of the main character… NOBODY, no matter how scared, could possibly acted this stupid… i mean were used to horror-movie characters acting silly, but this was just too much. I mean, first the girl actually swallows pills that she declaredly suspects to be dangerous. She does so, ALONE in locked bathroom where she could have easily just flushed them or climbed out the window. Instead she barfs them out again shouting “POISON”, “POISON”. Then she leaves the bathroom and tries to call her attorney with the person who poisoned her standing right next to the phone… TOO MUCH.

  • misty-griffin
    misty griffin

    (****1/2 out of *****) My personal favorite Argento picture, this stars a young Jennifer Connelly (who would later go on to win a best supporting actress oscar for “A Beautiful Mind”) as an American student in a snobby Swiss boarding school that is being terrorized by a brutal serial killer. Helping Connelly find the murderer are crippled Donald Pleasance, his intelligent primate assistant, and the entire insect world, with which Connelly has an unexplainable psychic connection. This movie may be short on sense and logic, but it more than makes up for it with outrageous style and bizarre uniqueness. It’s like a twisted fairy tale, with heroic flies, disfigured killer midgets, and vengeful chimpanzees with straight razors. As in Argento’s “Opera,” some of the use of annoying late ‘80s metal bands (like Iron Maiden and Motorhead) doesn’t work half as well as the ominously beautiful score composed by Claudio Simonetti. Argento’s never been a great writer of dialogue, so some of the lines seem pretty stilted, and you also have to put up with some so-so acting from a good majority of the cast (also, unfortunately, typical of a lot of Argento’s movies), but these things are easy to overlook in the midst of the nightmarish beauty and creepy atmosphere on display here. Also stars Daria Nicolodi in a more wicked role than usual and Patrick Bauchau as a police detective.HIGHLIGHT: The plot becomes more and more freakishly surreal until Connelly finds herself, first, in an underground tunnel, following the extension cord of a telephone (a scene reminiscent of Alice in a seriously frightening Wonderland), and, later, in a filthy pool full of human bones and maggots.

  • dana-obrien
    dana obrien

    I am not into a lot of horror but I love the way Dario Argento designs death scenes – I’ve never seen a teenage girl being decapitated on a shard of broken window glass filmed so hauntingly terrifying and operatic. Argento also needs credit for where I’m afraid John Carpenter fell a little short – and that’s in taking all the elements of the eighties pop culture aesthetic and transforming them into high art. Throughout Phenomena you have a heavy metal soundtrack, you’ve got the coloured eighties lighting in all our favourite tones – lime green, deep red and neon blue – you’ve got the old scientist as mentor to the young child and a monkey! Phenomena has a monkey and Argento uses that to create this synergy of eighties horror awesome. However, I should mention Phenomena is a cult and strictly cult classic and even Jennifer Connelly, who is really sweet in this film, has spoken out against it. It is a shame though. I think this film is a bigger star on her resume than Requiem for a Dream, which I thought was an overwrought, melodramatic retread of Pi. 😛

  • pamela-thompson
    pamela thompson

    I was really taken by surprise by this little gem! It’s like a warped and nightmarish fairy tale and I have never seen another movie quite like it. A young and already very lovely Jennifer Connelly (14 years old at the time, I believe) stars as Jennifer Corvino, a troubled American teenager with a famous actor father, who has just arrived at the Richard Wagner Academy in Switzerland. Almost immediately, she discovers there’s a serial killer brandishing a metal spear who’s killing young women in the area. But plucky and courageous Jennifer isn’t about to become the next victim, and sets out on a quest to discover who the killer is. Cleverly adding to the storyline, Jennifer possesses a special gift of being able to communicate with and control insects. This gift (along with the fact she’s a sleepwalker) makes her an outcast at school, but it does provide some extra protection when she finds herself in harm’s way. While it may sound a little crowded, the storyline is actually very engaging and there’s literally a surprise around every corner. The music score was contributed by a number of people, and was mesmerizing throughout. The photography was gorgeous, with all kinds of imaginative camera shots, angles and a very nice usage of color. I have always thought that Jennifer Connelly was one of the most beautiful and talented American actresses working today, so it was wonderful to see her getting her start here. While it’s obviously one of her first roles, she’s really pretty good here and one of the most appealing central characters in any Argento movie. Of special interest to horror fans are the inclusion of actors Donald Pleasence (“Halloween”), who plays an entomologist with a pet monkey who becomes Jennifer’s friend, and Daria Nicolodi (“Deep Red”), who plays a teacher at Jennifer’s school. If you like your movies vivid, artistic and weird, this is a must see!

  • julie-brooks
    julie brooks

    I first saw this movie as Creepers, the heavily cut American version of Phenomena. After watching the newly available uncut version I feel I have seen a full film. There are 28 additional minutes of footage found in the uncut original version, but almost all of it is dialogue that makes the first half sluggishly drag on without much happening. The second half, however, kept me very interested. Some say this movie is very predictable, and I have to agree. The plot is set up for you to expect certain things, and those things do happen, although not in the way you anticipated. It is hard to explain what I mean, but people who have seen this will probably understand. I really do like this movie, it seems very similar to Suspiria in style. That movie also had a slow start, but picked up towards the end. You can’t really question a movie like Phenomena, it just unfolds before your eyes. Many people won’t get it, and that’s fine; Argento films aren’t for everyone.

  • gregory-hansen
    gregory hansen

    PHENOMENA was the first Argento-movie I ever saw and it was love at first sight. That’s probably one of the reasons that it’s my favorite Argento-movie to date. Notice that I use the term ‘favorite’ instead of ‘best’ because I honestly can’t tell you which one is his best movie. There have been many disputes to whether SUSPIRIA or PROFONDO ROSSO is Argento’s best work. I’d say: if you haven’t seen any of his movies yet, PHENOMENA is the best one to start with. It perfectly displays what the man’s capable of as well as some of his shortcomings. When viewing his films you should also keep in mind that these are European (horror)movies which should not be compared to American mainstream films because they have a completely different look to begin with and you are also most likely to find some of the actors’ voices re-dubbed in order to get the English pronunciation right.I was fortunate to discover PHENOMENA at an age when I did not care much about flat dialogues and not too excellent acting performances. Two things Argento-movies occasionally suffer from, however, you can always count on some decent lead actors in his films. In this case Donald Pleasance as Dr. John McGregor, and Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer Corvino. The supporting cast includes Michele Soavi (director of LA SETTA, DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE,…) and Argento’s wife Daria Nicolodi. Connelly was rather young at the time this film was shot, so you can notice at times her acting skills not being fully matured yet. Still, she gives a terrific performance.Here’s a hint at the plot: Jennifer Corvino arrives in Switzerland to join a school for girls at the same time gruesome murders are being committed. She discovers she has a strange bond with insects and it doesn’t take long before she meets the entomologist John McGregor and together they try to discover who’s killing all the students.It is simply amazing how many different elements, ideas and details Argento has put in PHENOMENA’s story-line only to discover in the end everything fits together perfect and he pulls it of competently. Sometimes it might result in a (often important) subplot being put aside, only to be picked up again later in the movie (when you’ve almost forgotten about it).At times you might have to suspend your disbelief (telepatical links between humans and insects) or encounter illogical events (the house full of mirrors). But, and this is a strange thing to say, it is often when Argento’s movies are deprived of logic that they are at it’s best.Argento’s touch is omni-present in this movie. Some impressive tilt- & trackingshots are used together with some unconventional pov’s. In the darker and dreamlike scenes the lighting is put to good use (but don’t expect the colorful visuals from SUSPIRIA). The Swiss landscapes are also beautifully photographed in a few scenes. The openings-scene is one of the best of his oeuvre, extremely powerful and well-crafted. There are some nifty special effects featuring millions of flies. The gross-out factor is rather high in PHENOMENA, including rotting bodyparts swarming with maggots and the killings are brutal and graphic. The last half hour leading to the climax of the movie is the best, providing us with plenty of gory surprises. I’ll guarantee you’ll be amazed when you find out who’s doing all the killing.Finally we have the musical score, which is always a treat in Argento-movies. That is to say… Goblin, Claudio Simonetti, Bill Wyman, Terry Taylor and Simon Boswell all contributed greatly on the soundtrack. From the mesmerizing tones over the opening credits to the atmospheric/bombastic ‘phenomena’-theme at the end. But there are some scenes where Argento uses songs by Iron Maiden and Motörhead. Some hardrockin’ heavy metal tunes which totally don’t match with what’s going on on the screen (exept maybe for the ‘running through the woods on the openings-riff of Iron Maiden’s ‘Flash of the Blade’-part, which lasted for only a few seconds). What was Argento thinking? Maybe he was influenced by Lamberto Bava who did the same on the DEMONS-soundtrack (which was being produced that same year). Oh, well, we’ll forgive him for that.So, you think you’re ready for PHENOMENA? Then, by all means, watch it! It is considered to be among the best of Italian horror and Dario Argento himself has claimed PHENOMENA to be his favorite movie.

  • lindsey-mullins
    lindsey mullins

    Don’t listen to the Italo-snob fan boys who try to justify this film’s merit by praising the “texture” or telling you you’ve “missed the point.” (Yeah, it’s “all about the atmosphere,” we get it now, sure.) All the positive reviews are coming from those who already know and like Argento’s works — this does not mean his works (or at least this particular work) are any good. At all.”Phenomena” is painfully slow, with excruciatingly boring dialog scenes between Connelly and an entomologist, bad editing, a soundtrack only a lunatic could have thought was appropriate to this film (Iron Maiden during the most “suspensful” scenes?) and to top it all off, the day is saved by a monkey. Are you kidding me? Ah, but let’s not forget. The film has “beautiful scenery” and is very “surreal.” If I want to enjoy the view I will watch a nature documentary. The only good thing about this film were the last twenty minutes or so, but getting there is not worth the effort of sitting through all the ones preceding them.A hint to this film’s potential victims: “surreal” is code for “uninspired.” There are three kinds of people who would ever subject themselves to this film. In the first category are those who worship Argento and the rest of his inept Italian filmmakers for whatever reason they do (or think they do). Argento could film air moving for ten minutes and they would be here in a heartbeat praising the “mood” of the work and talking about how the rest are missing the point. (It’s about the atmosphere!) In the second category are the cinematically adventurous who heard or read about Argento somewhere and are now curious to see what the fuss is about. Go ahead. Nice to have seen at least one Argento film, though I would recommend “Trauma” instead, which can be called an actual film in the first place, and is actually quite good.The third category, and those for whom I write this comment, are those who came to the film completely randomly and are looking here to see what it’s about before they rent or buy it. To you gentle viewers: Stay… away… from this film.It will not entertain you, it will not capture you, it won’t even keep you awake. It will only test your patience, rack your nerves, and plunge you into the depths of incredulity, if not with its laughable soundtrack then with its sub par acting, inept editing, and with its monkey. Oh dear, the monkey….Just leave it alone. Go watch something else.

  • douglas-fowler
    douglas fowler

    ¨Creepers¨or ¨Phenomena¨ is a nice Giallo full of grisly killings , suspense and bizarre intrigue. A teenager(Jennifer Connelly), with an amazing and unusual capability to communicate with insects , is moved to an exclusive Swiss girls’ boarding school ruled by a rigid principal (Dalila Di Lazzaro) . As there happens several murders with bloody and creepy executions . Meanwhile the series killer goes on a real massacre on various unfortunate victims in a string of loathing murders. The girl who has a most unusual relationship with insects might help solve some gruesome killings. Slowly more people are found dead and a scientific (Donald Pleasence)expert on insects investigates the strange killings committed by a mad murderous running amok and with numerous suspects .Dario Argento’s great success is compelling directed with startling visual content. This frightening movie is plenty of thrills, chills, body-count and strange color with phenomenal results. This is a classic slasher where the intrigue,tension, suspense appear threatening and lurking in every room, corridors and luxurious interior and exterior. The movie belongs to Italian Giallo genre that was invented by Mario Bava along with Riccardo Freda(Secret of Dr. Hitchcock) , they are the fundamental creators . These Giallo movies are characterized by overblown use of color with shining red blood, usual zooms, and utilization of images-shock . Later appears the maestro Dario Argento with his typically stylish Giallos, he is another essential creator of classic Latin terror films. Argento’s so-so direction is well crafted, and as always more inclined toward violence and lots of killings . This genuinely mysterious story is well made and is one of the best ¨Giallo¨ with oneiric, effective aesthetic ; it packs lots of gore, guts and twists plots . This is a trademark terror work for the Horrormeister Argento with high tension quotient and equally high suspense by means of an ever-fluid camera that achieves colorful shots . Noteworthy for intelligent edition work that tightens the mystery, glimmer use of color and distinctive utilization of shock images. Sometimes weak screenplay is added by nice but gory special effects with insects .Screeching musical score by Goblin with stereophonic whispers combining to fortissimo soundtrack which help achieve incredible creepy moments and adding hard rock by Motorhead , Iran Maiden , among others.The terror pieces are well staged with eye-opening flair-play and contain obscure tracks to the denouement of the script . The motion picture is originally directed by Dario Argento, one of those film-makers who set off simple for frightening us to death. His period of biggest hits were the 70s when he directed the animals trilogy: ¨Four flies over gray velvet,The cat of nine tails, Bird with the crystal plumage¨, after he directed ¨Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebre¨ and of course ¨Deep red¨. This bloody fun plenty of graphic gore and weirdness may not be for all tastes but to be liked for Argento connoisseurs especially .

  • shannon-lester
    shannon lester

    Falling somewhere in the middle of Argento’s downward slope from the heights of Profondo Rosso and Suspiria to the lows of Giallo and Dracula, Phenomena walks the edge between decent and mediocre, with the genuinely dreadful soundtrack pushing it towards the latter. Seriously, what was THAT? It’s so inappropriate, it seems like a parody: it reminds me of the Shaun of the Dead sketch with the annoyed zombie switching off the heavy metal music on the car stereo. At this point of his career Argento had already lost his spark of cinematic genius, but was still dishing out semi-watchable stuff – although I can’t recommend Phenomena to anyone but Argento completists.This lackluster supernatural thriller set in an all-female boarding room in the Swiss countryside (kind of a lousy remake of Suspiria) is notable for starring a 14 years old Jennifer Connelly. Born in 1970, when Argento made his debut with The Birds of the Crystal Plumage, given by the Italian director her first leading role here, Connelly would rise to an Academy Award in 2001, the same year Argento made his first truly terrible movie, Non Ho Sonno.Connelly had part of a finger bitten off by her chimpanzee co-star while filming. Chimpanzee co-star? Yeah, it’s that kind of movie.Donald Pleasence plays an entomologist / mentor figure; he made several appearances in Italian cinema in those years. To its credit, Phenomena *is* better than the most infamous of those, The Puma Man.5/10

  • tomas-carlsson
    tomas carlsson

    If you can get past the initial weirdness of the concept – which includes a teenager who can communicate with insects, a chained-up murderer prone to driving a spike through its victims head’s, a monkey wielding a razor blade and more red-herrings than you can shake an Agatha Christie box-set at – then you might just find Phenomena to be a greatly entertaining piece of Argento horror/schlock. The plot, as per usual, is nonsense, and yet, Argento seems to instil it with an almost unbelievable sense of conviction, creating a strange hybrid of Tenebrea’s amateur sleuthing style of narrative deconstruction and the warped fairytale fantasia of Suspiria, alongside the more familiar Giallo elements of black-gloved assailants, buckets of blood and an almost pornographic obsession with gleaming, silver, implements of death.The initial set-up and the opening scenes are fantastic, demonstrating Argento’s keen eye for location and composition, as his script finds a young Danish tourist (played by Argento’s eldest daughter Fiore) stranded in the middle of the Swiss countryside after missing her last bus back into town. Attempting to find solace, she knocks on the door of the only cottage in sight. When there’s no answer, the girl foolishly enters, with Argento brilliantly cross-cutting between the traumatised tourist desperately asking for help, and the thick chains of an unseen foe slowly breaking away from the wall on which they’ve been bolted. The rhythm and the sense of unease (and later, tension) that Argento creates in this opening scene is phenomenal (sorry!), and is really all the more impressive given the fact that the whole sequence takes place during broad daylight *and* amongst some of the most beautiful and tranquil scenery you’re every likely to see!!From here, the story begins to take shape. There’s a killer on the loose with a penchant for dismembering teenage girls. When the head of the Danish tourist turns up after an eight month period of decomposition, the chief of police enlists the help of wheelchair bound entomologist professor John McGregor to study the various insects and secretions that may have collected within the skull to help them define the exact time of death and the possible location of the murder. Across town, Jennifer Corvino, the spoilt daughter of a famous Hollywood superstar, is sent away to the Richard Wagner Boarding school (there’s even a disarming Suspiria-style voice over to announce this ten-minutes in), where, on the first night, she enters into a somnambulistic state and inadvertently witnesses a murder. When the school authorities and the other kids find out about Jennifer’s sleepwalking episode – and, more alarmingly, her apparent connection with insects (developed during an earlier scene between Jennifer and the school’s administrator Frau Brückner and a bee during the drive up to the school) – they chastise her, and subject her to a bizarre medical examination that bring about some alarming subconscious revelations about the night before. Later that day, another girl is killed.Like Argento’s early masterworks, Deep Red (Profondo Rosso), Tenebrae and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Phenomena hinges around the notion of a potential victim having seen more of a murder/murderer than they can fully comprehend. In this case, Jennifer’s bout of sleepwalking brought her face to face with the killer and its victim. And, although she remains oblivious to the actual identity of the murderer until much later in the film, she has, by this stage, already seen their face obscured behind a pane of broken glass. Her relationship with insects and her hatred for the school eventually brings her to McGregor, who believes that Jennifer’s special bond with the insects could hold the key to discovering the killer’s identity, and together, the two hatch a plan to use the insects to retrace the Danish tourist’s steps, to, eventually, lead them to the home of the killer.All of this sounds like complete and utter nonsense when looked at in print (which, to some extent, I suppose it is), but Argento clearly believes in his concept and somehow makes the whole thing plausible… by toning down his usually mind-bending visual style (the baroque colour schemes, cinema-scope compositions and atmospheric camera movements are put aside, with the director going for a much colder visual look, with soft blue hues and black and white production/costume designs captured by a camera that tends to observe from a distance, only rarely getting involved in the action) to give the fantasy a baring in reality, and to somehow, make the whole thing seem a little more believable. Where the film does falter, slightly, is in areas of performance and dialog… the main cast are fine, with the young Jennifer Connelly creating that right balance of bratish adolescence and other-worldly awe as the young girl with the baffling gift, whilst Donald Pleasence brings the same gravitas and sense of overriding authority that he brought to films like Death Line and John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, but the majority of the supporting players are virtually characterless, one dimensional ciphers, handicapped by atrocious dubbing and the director’s heavy-handed exposition.That said, there is fine support from Argento’s former partner/fixture/muse Daria Nicolodi in a pivotal role… and although she’s subsequently stated that Phenomena is the performance of hers that she likes least of all, I think she creates a truly memorable and quite sympathetic character, who, it must be said, looks surprisingly attractive with glasses and a bad perm!! Perhaps another shortcoming of the film is the dated visual effects, which, quite honestly, were probably dated even by 1985 standards (the swarm of insects’ looks like it was crudely photo-shopped in, whilst the point of view shots from the insects are as cheesy as can be). However, these criticisms are quite tenuous, with Argento (for the most part) managing to overcome these minor set-backs to deliver a uniquely bizarre, beautiful and unbelievably violent collage of fairytale/horror/fantasy/schlock.

  • brett-oneal
    brett oneal

    Opinions on Phenomena are divided amongst Argento fans. It’s not quite a love it or hate it film, but rather a like it or dislike it one. There’s enough of Argento here to ensure that his fans will enjoy it, but it also marks a change of pace for him. While his previous films focused mainly on the mystery in the plot, the focus this time is clearly on the action; and the heavy metal soundtrack shows that Argento wanted to make this more of a thriller than a Giallo, and I think he’s succeeded admirably. Argento has said that this movie came about after the great director heard about insects’ supposed telepathy, and the fact that the film has stemmed from this sort of idea shows by the way that the plot pans out. First of all, we are bombarded with the idea of insect telepathy, and when we get round to the murders and murderer, it almost feels like something from another film. However, while the plot is messy; it does give Argento lots of room for horror, which he capitalises on at every opportunity. We follow Jennifer Corvino, an actor’s daughter who attends a school in Switzerland, which is also having problems with a local murderer. She’s not quite like the other girls, however, as she has a strange connection with the insect population…Dario Argento has piled many ideas into this plot, and it’s clear that it’s not very well thought out as he seems to drop another idea in every time he feels like the plot needs spicing up a little bit. This is a problem for the movie, as it feels underdone and very messy; but on the other hand, this is also the movie’s finest asset as it ensures that the film is always unpredictable and therefore constantly thrilling. The heavy metal music that accompanies the death scenes seems odd in this movie, as we’re used to very pungent music scores in Argento films. It does suit the film’s mood, however, and it helps give the film that trashy eighties horror movie feel, which is much loved by eighties horror fans like me. The cast is a good one and it features Argento regular, Daria Nicolodi along with established horror actor Donald Pleasance and a very young Jenifer Connelly. None of the cast massively impress, but they come together well as an ensemble and the acting is of a quality that is high enough to carry this sort of film. On the whole, this isn’t Argento’s best work. It’s messy and convoluted, but it’s also fun to watch, thrilling and very inventive.

  • raven-miller
    raven miller

    SpoilersBack in the 90s, I rented a movie called CREEPERS. CREEPERS is the US version of PHENOMENA. After watching the movie, I looked at my friends and wondered ‘WTF?’. Needless to say, the film was totally incomprehensible and wretched. Flash forward several years and I see that CREEPERS is now available in its full uncut version, PHENOMENA. Having recently discovered Argento’s films just a few months before and having enjoyed all of them, I decided to give this movie a second chance, thinking that the full version wouldn’t be as bad as the one I saw back in the 90s. Well, I regretted buying the DVD because the uncut version of PHENOMENA is as bad, if not worse than CREEPERS. Having seen both versions and noticed what the US distributors left out, I can state with complete confidence that PHENOMENA is a disaster of a film. The US distributors tried to salvage what they could by re-editing Argento’s original cut but alas, the film was beyond salvaging. Yes, it’s that bad! Think about it: when MASSIVE chunks of the original film were cut, to the point were entire **major** plot points have been eliminated and, in the end, it didn’t even make any difference or that the full version ends up making as much sense as the heavily edited US version, well, you can clearly see that PHENOMENA was a mess to start with.In order to review and compare both versions in order to point out how bad PHENOMENA is, I need to divulge some major plot points. If you haven’t seen PHENOMENA, then stop reading now. If you did see the movie, in either or both versions, well you can keep on reading.First, the few good things about the film: Jennifer Connelly is amazingly beautiful; it’s always fun to see Donald Pleasence; the cinematography is sharp; moody music provided by Bill Wyman and Simonetti (forget the Metal stuff). That’s it. That’s all there is. Then there’s the rest, such as story, acting, suspense, logic, whatever, is completely lacking.It’s obvious that by the time Argento made PHENOMENA, he didn’t care about anything but coming up with interesting visuals and ideas, no matter how illogical or incongruous they were vis a vis the storyline or characters’ actions. With no coherence or substance attached to them, the ideas stick out like yellow post-it notes.In CREEPERS, by cutting large chunks of the movie, the killer was the smart MONKEY! They cut every part of the original version that had to do with the killer who murders the girls, who happens to be the same size and height as the monkey! In CREEPERS, at the end, it’s edited in a way that we see the monkey chopping off the head of the old man. But in the original version, Daria is the one who chops off the old man’s head with a sheet of metal (?) and the monkey then kills Daria. In PHENOMENA, the monkey is the HERO not the killer. But whichever way the movie was cut, the end result was the same: ridiculous! Case in point: The real killer in PHENOMENA is afraid of mirrors! The house where the killer is locked up by his mother, played Daria Nicolidi, is filled with BIG MIRRORS! BUT, and this is the really stoooopid aspect of it all which always gets me, the mirrors are all **covered** with sheets because the mother covered them so her ‘son’ wouldn’t be disturbed by his appearance whenever he wants to walk about the house. But the problem is that the mirrors are TOO HIGH for the killer to see himself in them because the killer is very SHORT. Duh! And why not just get rid of all of the mirrors in the first place? The whole plot-point with mirrors is so ridiculous and illogical that I really understand why the US distributor tried to eliminate any scene or reference to the short killer in the US version. When the killer jumps on the boat Jennifer tries to escape on, well, in CREEPERS, all close-up shots of the deformed short killer’s face were cut and as a result, you had the impression that Jennifer was fighting with some small, unseen creature, such as the smart monkey.Other leaps of logic or goofs:The girl at the beginning of the movie walks in the house where the killer is chained to a wall. The owners of the house take care to chain the killer but they leave the front door is unlocked! Huh?The reflective windows at the killer’s house aren’t covered and yet they’re closer to the floor (and the short killer’s height) than the mirrors.The extra extra EXTRA long telephone cord.Jennifer telling the deformed kid ‘everything is okay with the mirrors’ Why?Jennifer swimming underwater in the lake is actually a swimming pool. And the scene is a vain attempt at duplicating the great underwater scene in Inferno.How does the old man find her at the landing?How did Daria cross the lake faster than Jennifer who had a boat?PHENOMENA is a failure. This is horror movie and yet it’s not frightening or horrifying in any way (except for the usual killing of girls aspect standard in all Argento films). What’s more, because Jennifer’s character is capable of communicating with insects and can summon up huge swarms of insects whenever she’s in crisis, this (albeit interesting) detail defeats the whole purpose of suspense or horror: you never really feel that Jennifer is in any danger in the entire movie because her insect friends can always come and rescue her from harm.

  • magda-gurckaia
    magda gurckaia

    Having seen the uncut version of Phenomena, I can testify that while trimming down a great many scenes in the censored versions probably did improve the pacing, it couldn’t have done much to make the story make any sense and anyway, nothing much could rescue such a scatter-brained and poorly-written script. I can certainly see why Jennifer Connelly might consider this an old shame, though I’m guessing she’s not to blame for all the third-act stupidity of her character as she was probably just following the script, and in no position to tell the director that the script was stupid and he was being stupid to insist that she follow it.Considering that Dario Argento is credited as both writer and director, he truly has no one else to blame for the incompetent execution of this story but himself. A work’s being derivative and formulaic need not be a bad thing, especially considering that the new is always necessarily born out of the old and even some of the most original ideas in cinema ever were actually just clever new twists on tried-and-true older ideas. That a great many of the story’s elements would be all too familiar to a great many of us in the target audience is not the problem with this film. Yes, a psychopathic serial killer, an all-girls school with a ready supply of potential victims for that same psychopath, a hideous monstrosity chained up in somebody’s attic or cellar, and horrific scenery involving corpses and swarming insects have all been done before and since elsewhere, and in some cases with better special effects, but none of these elements by themselves can be considered Phenomena’s downfall.No, the real problem with this film is that the writer and director simply tosses all these elements in seemingly almost at random with little to no effort to make the story binding them all together make any sense. The results of this scatter-shot story-telling are what the film’s admirers and defenders prefer to call “surreal” and “atmospheric” whereas we critics and detractors who know better call this mess what it is: confused and incoherent. No matter how strikingly beautiful or ugly the imagery may be (and this film has plenty of striking imagery of both kinds), a film that can’t bring all the imagery together in a way that makes sense is just not going to be very entertaining to watch. As an ostensible horror-mystery, Phenomena has too many questions left unasked and unanswered in favor of prolonged lingering over shots of gore and rotting flesh for this to be a decent mystery, and too much of a mystery plot requiring a resolution we’re never given for this to be a credible horror story.Really, Dario Argento would have done much better had he focused much more on the one original element of this story that truly shines through all the others, that being the protagonist Jennifer Corvino’s mysterious connection to the bugs. In fact, this force-of-nature superpower is the central and only truly essential element of the story. Had he recognized this and been willing to chuck out any of the other elements in order to keep the focus on this amazing ability of Jennifer’s where it belonged, he could have made a far better movie. Phenomena could have been a straight-up horror story that subverted the usual formula by having the seemingly perpetual damsel-in-distress use her powers to be the stuff of serial killers’ nightmares rather than the other way around. It could have been a full-fledged mystery with the girl using her power to see things through the insects’ eyes to catch and convict criminals (such as serial killers). It could even have been an offbeat superhero action story in which she learns to control and develop her powers to fight crime as David Dunn does in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable (and it would have been decades ahead of that film).Instead, alas, we get this incoherent mess of a film in which the killer (or one of the killers; who did each of the killings and why is one more plot point never really adequately clarified) actually taunts Jennifer at one point by asking her why she doesn’t just call those swarms of her insect friends to come rescue her the same way they already have (twice!), and we in the audience have to ask “Yeah, why don’t you!?” Jennifer Connelly is a lovely girl and (we know from other movies) an excellent actress. If Argento wanted her to play a girl with control over insects, he should have let her do it, and have her use her powers as early and often as the special effects budget allowed.

  • zvonka-vidic
    zvonka vidic

    Dario Argento is a genius… this is a fact. The film starts off with a beautifully gory scene, then somewhat mellows out for a while. Some great scenes of night walking/dreaming/etc stand out, but it’s not until about 2/3 of the way through the movie that it becomes a classic.Beheadings, stabbings, and a pool of body parts ensue. But by far the creepiest thing of the movie is when the son who is left alone “with his crazy thoughts” turns around from his corner, revealing his face. This is possibly the scariest thing I have EVER seen on film… even scarier than the robot-butler-doll from Deep Red. And that’s saying something.An amazingly spooky and incredibly gory battle follows, leading up to the gorgeous, bloody end.Dario Argento can do no wrong.

  • justin-garner
    justin garner

    Dario Argento is very good at lining up nice shots. If only he could hire someone to review the screenplays and point out all the errors. Any idiot of the street could do it for $10 an hour. Yes, yes, I know the whole “My movies are like a dream” crap, but it’s hard to get absorbed in the dream when you keep being smacked over the head with plot inconsistencies and intensely moronic characters. Credit to Phenomena, Jennifer Connelly made one of the few appealing Argento protagonists, and generally didn’t behave like a complete nitwit (with several exceptions). David Lynch’s movies feel like dreams also, but don’t pull you out of your suspension of disbelief with patent stupidity. If you don’t know Argento, don’t start here. If you’ve never liked Argento, this won’t change your mind. There are some effective moments and nice shots that make the movie not a complete wash, but nothing to really justify it’s existence.

  • dennis-huang
    dennis huang

    This review applies to the US version that was released by Media Home Entertainment. It is 82mins. and is titled CREEPERS.A young girl attending a Swiss girls school discovers that the school is plagued by a series of grisly murders. An extremely stylish offering by Italy’s leading horror genre master. Quite original too, with some unusual sub-plots too that include our main characters ability to control insects and use them to track the killer. Even though this has about 30mins. cut out of it, it really doesn’t show, and this offers plenty of gore for all of your gore hounds especially at the scary and exciting end. A really good film. My rating: 9 out of 10.

  • carolyn-wilson
    carolyn wilson

    Overlooked masterpiece from the great Dario Argento is simply one of his best films of the 80’s and arguably his most bizarre work!Young girl, who has a psychic bond with insects, must use her powers to try to stop the mad killer that’s terrorizing a Swiss boarding school.Director Argento has often proclaimed this to be his personal favorite of his films and it’s not hard to see why. Story-wise Phenomena combines all of the elements of Argento’s other films; a crazed serial killer, a touch of the supernatural, a detective-mystery, and a sense of being like a fairy tale. It’s a story that draws one in, from the startling opening murder sequence to the horrific climatic twists! The plot is completely off-beat, giving the audience no idea of what to expect at any moment. As always, Argento’s direction has a splendidly flashy style and gives the whole film a unique, strange atmosphere. Lending all the more to the weird atmosphere is the glorious music of Goblin, who provides some of their finest work here. In addition Iron Maiden also serves up a great metal-rock number. The special FX are quite impressive, especially the shockingly good makeup work – just wait for the finale!The cast is also pretty good, and thankfully the dubbing isn’t as bad for this film as it is for some Italian movies. Young Jennifer Connelly (only 15 here) does an enchanting performance. The late-great Donald Pleasance is good as always as Connelly’s befriended scientist. Daria Nicolodi does a terrific turn as Connelly’s teacher.Some hail it and some misunderstand it, but frankly Phenomena ranks well with Argento’s other incredible films. Be sure to catch it in its full-length uncut version and not the horridly cut U.S. release entitled ‘Creepers’.**** out of ****

  • debra-torres
    debra torres

    This film, from Italian horror maestro Dario Argento, is centred on Jennifer Corvino. She is the daughter of an American film star who is just starting at a remote Swiss boarding school. On her first night her roommate tells her about a murderer preying on young women in the area. Then later that night Jennifer sleep walks and finds herself near the home of Forensic entomologist John McGregor. Here she tells him of her love for insects and how they never harm her… it turns out that somehow she can communicate with them. After a further murder he suggests she can use this skill to use an insect to find the bodies’ of the murderer’s victims. Inevitably she is soon in real and very immediate danger.Things start of well with a prologue that features a fairly gruesome murder eight months before the main events of the film. This is quite shocking and prepares the viewer for what is to come. Once the main story is underway much of it has a dreamlike quality so that it isn’t immediately obvious if what we are watching is actually happening or part of a dream Jennifer is having… this creates a great atmosphere. Young Jennifer Connelly, in her first starring role, impresses as our protagonist; it was nice to see a school aged character played by somebody in her early teens rather than a twenty-something as is often the case in Hollywood movies. Donald Pleasence is the second most notable actor in the role of McGregor. The rest of the cast are solid enough. There aren’t a huge number of violent scenes but those that there are are fairly disturbing. Overall I’d say this is a must see if you are a fan of Argento’s other works and well worth watching if you want a good atmospheric horror movie.

  • kevin-spears
    kevin spears

    This Is A Review Of The Uncut Version.Dario Argento’s “Phenomena” of 1985 is an absolute masterpiece of horror coming along with an ingenious soundtrack by Goblin. Argento has enriched the Horror/Giallo genre by quite a bunch of brilliant films, including such stunning pictures as “The Bird With The Crystal Plumage” (1970), “Tenebre”(1982) and “Opera” (1987), “Penomena” is (in my opinion) his greatest achievement alongside his masterpieces “Suspiria” of 1977 and “Profondo Rosso” of 1975. A brilliant, extremely scary, stunning and visually breathtaking film, “Phenomena” is an absolute must-see for every Horror-fan. Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Conelly), the daughter of an American movie star, is sent to an elite girl’s boarding school in the Swiss mountains, more precisely in a part of Switzerland referred to by locals as ‘The Swiss Transylvania’. The area is currently terrorized by a serial killer of girls, whose victims are always heinously dismembered. Although a friendly and lovable person, Jennifer does not make too many friends in the boarding school, and due to her sleepwalking most of the other girls think of her as weird. But sleepwalking is not her only unusual characteristic. Jennifer loves insects, and insects also seem to have a strong affection for her. While Inspector Geiger (Patrick Buchau) is investigating the brutal murders, Jennifer befriends wheelchair-bound entomologist Prof Mc Gregor (Donald Pleasence), who helps the police with their investigations…Then 15-year-old Jennifer Conelly’s acting is simply outstanding, a perfect performance from the beginning to the end. The supporting cast is also very good, the great Donald Pleasence’s performance as Prof Mc Gregor is just one of many very memorable performances in “Phenomena”. As usual for Argento, the movie is impressively photographed on great, scary locations. Dario Argento has always placed great emphasis on impressive colors (especially red, of course), and hardly ever have I seen a movie as visually stunning and awe-inspiring as Phenomena. The brilliant Progressive Rock Soundtrack by Goblin manages to even intensify the suspense, and is one of the best scores I have ever heard in a horror film. Partially a Giallo, and partially a horror film with psychic and transcendental elements, “Phenomena” is a creepy film that is scary as hell. It is also easily one of Argento’s most brutal movies, and therefore maybe not the kind of film for people who are too sensitive when it comes to violence in movies. Phenomena was also released under the title “Creepers” in the US, but that was a cut (or should I say mutilated) version of only 82 minutes. I have always seen the uncut version, which runs about 111 minutes, and I definitely recommend anybody else to do so, since every minute of the movie is stunning and indispensable, and I can’t even imagine which (certainly essential) 29 minutes they cut out in the other versions. A true masterpiece of horror cinema, “Phenomena” is, in my opinion, Dario Argento’s greatest movie besides “Suspiria” and “Profondo Rosso”. Superbly written and directed, outstandingly acted, impressively photographed and extremely creepy and scary from the beginning to the end “Phenomena” is absolutely phenomenal. A stroke of genius! 10/10

  • maiken-thomsen
    maiken thomsen

    In Switzerland, the teenager Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly), daughter of a famous actor, arrives in an expensive board school and shares her room with the French schoolmate Sophie (Federica Mastroianni). Jennifer is a sleepwalker, is capable of telepathically communicate with insects and has adaptation problem in the new school. While sleepwalking, she meets and becomes friend of a Scottish entomologist, Prof. John McGregor (Donald Pleasence), and his chimpanzee Tonga. Jennifer decides to help the investigation of Dr. McGregor about a serial killer that is killing young girls in that area.It may sound ridiculous, but “Phenomena” has never been released on video in Brazil; only two days ago, “Phenomena” was released on DVD in Brazil and now I am glad to have this movie in my collection. The weird story of Dario Argento, one of my favorite directors, is a total cult, showing bizarre characters and situations, maggots, flies, deformed people, serial killer and lots of bodies and body parts. A fifteen years old Jennifer Connelly in her third work, extremely beautiful, shines in the very original role of a sleepwalker that is very connected to insects and develop the skill of communicate with them. Daria Nicolodi, the mother of Asia Argento and former mate of Dario Argento, has a minor, but very important role. And the versatile Donald Pleasence, in the role of a paraplegic researcher, is efficient as usual. The music score, with Goblin, Iron Maiden and Motorhead, is another great attraction of this movie. My vote is seven.Title (Brazil): “Phenomena”

  • victoria-franklin
    victoria franklin

    My review is based on uncut Italian print,which runs 110 minutes.A young Jennifer Connelly can communicate telepathically with insects.The area she arrives in is being terrorized by a psychotic killer,who has been murdering coeds and making off with their decapitated bodies.Desperate for clues,a police inspector visits an entomologist Donald Pleasance(“Halloween”,”Death Line”)and eventually Pleasance and Connelly team up to find the killer.It all has something to do with Daria Nicolodi and the deformed creature she keeps chained in the basement.Wonderful atmosphere,gorgeous cinematography and plenty of gruesome gore make this one a must-see.Argento goes totally over the top in “Phenomena” with a swimming pool full of maggots and rotting corpses,a mad dwarf,a razor wielding monkey and grisly decapitations.Great heavy metal songs by Iron Maiden and Motorhead plus a nice musical score by Goblin.10 out of 10.

  • gabrielius-jankauskas
    gabrielius jankauskas

    Phenomena has long been one of my favourite Dario Argento films. It definitely seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of film, even more so than most Argentos, and I think it’s his most unjustly underrated piece of work to date.A 14-year-old Jennifer Connelly shines in the lead role, playing a sleepwalker who has a bizarre telepathic bond with insects and uses them to help her solve a string of gory murders at a girls boarding school in the Swiss Alps. She is one of my favourite Argento heroines, a tough, brainy and eccentric little girl somewhere between Nancy Drew and Snow White. She deserves special credit for taking on some truly gruesome scenes, like when she falls into a pit of maggots, slime and rotting corpses. As for the rest of the cast, Donald Pleasance is good as the wheelchair-bound Scottish entomologist and Daria Nicolodi has fun with a small but juicy role.Argento really let his imagination run wild making this one. Phenomena is a surreal, magical and surprisingly beautiful film, as much a dark fairytale fantasy as it is a horror film. It’s visually stunning and I loved the incongruity of having all this gory mayhem happen against the picturesque backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Claudio Simonetti’s electronic score is perfect, particularly the haunting main theme with its 80s synths and choral soprano vocals.With its girls boarding school setting and unseen killer on the loose, Phenomena can be taken as a companion piece to Argento’s earlier classic Suspiria (1977). But the introduction of slimy maggots, a razor-wielding pet chimp and six million buzzing insects set it apart. It all descends into glorious chaos for the Grand Guignol climax, which is perhaps the most thrilling house-of-horrors funhouse ride Argento has yet given us.A remarkable film.

  • brent-brown
    brent brown

    This movie seems to be either loved or hated. Those that love it seems to be Argento fans that have succumbed to the style and imagination. Those that hate it seems to get annoyed at script flaws, soundtrack, actors etc.Most of the criticizers seems to have missed the point. Dario Argentos movies is supposed to be watched and experienced, not dissected looking for flaws etc. which is true for most movies. I have the ability to turn the criticizer off when I watch movies, especially when it comes to horror/fantasy/scifi. They’re movies, not documentaries, and they’re not supposed to reflect your reality. Think of them as dreams, and we all know that dreams are most often illogical, strange and wonderful. That’s the frame of mind I have when I watch Argento movies. And Phenomena is great in that aspect since it builds upon imagination.Phenomena was the first Argento movie I watched, and it turned me into a big fan of his work. Donald Pleasance is great as useful, and Jennifer Connelly made many of us aware of how much we all want to meet her (at least the male audience). I watch this movie in much the same way as I did Suspiria (masterpiece), as a fantasy horror, a sweet nightmare. The first scene, where the Danish girl misses the bus and looks for help is unforgettable. The fact that the rest of the cast is a bunch of young and inexperienced teenagers is something most of the viewers familiar with Italian horror are used to.Would I recommend this? Absolutely, it’s one of the better Argento movies. Who would like it? Anybody with an open mind and interested in prime italian fantasy/horror.