Phenomena – Arrow Video
Director: Dario Argento

Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Daria Nicolodi
Review by Brian M. Sammons

Arrow Video from the UK returns to knock out another Dario Argento classic onto Blu-ray disc. The good news for us on this side of the Atlantic is that this disc is region free. But is this import worth paying the little extra to get it sent here? Let’s find out.

Phenomena, released in North America as Creepers, is one of Argento’s weirder films, and if you know his body of work then you’ll know that’s saying something. Listen to this, a very young Jennifer Connelly plays the daughter of a famous actor who can talk to and control all sorts of insects. That alone would be a full movie in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, but wait; we haven’t even gotten started with the weird yet. Anyway she is sent to a very exclusive girl’s school in Switzerland that just so happens to have someone with a collapsible spear murdering young girls and leaving maggot-infested gloves behind. She meets Donald Pleasence as a wheelchair-bound entomologist with a chimpanzee as his nurse and best friend and the two decide to become armature detectives looking for the murderer with the aid of a carrion-loving fly (no, really). They manage to find the lair of the mysterious spear-spree-killer and that’s not only when the blood really starts to hit the fan, but it’s also just the beginning of WTF moments. Oh and did I forget to mention that Jennifer’s character sleepwalks a whole lot while having vivid visions of a glowing white hallway? Yeah I don’t know why, and the movie never explains it, but she does. Anyway, I won’t give away the totally crazy ending, but I will say that as far out of left field as it is, I loved it. Oh and the Iron Maiden song that comes out of nowhere, twice. Yeah, that was pretty cool too.

Hey you know those movies where people say “Aw man, you’ve just got to see it to believe it”? Well Phenomena is a prime example of one of those. Luckily for you, it’s an Argento flick which means it looks simply amazing so your eyes will be entertained while your mind is being blown. I tell you, if there was one director born for high-def, it’ Dario Argento and his masterful use of color. This new Blu-ray has Phenomena looking better than ever before.

However, good looks are only half of what this package has to offer. It also has the usual goodies you’ve come to expect from Arrow Video. It has a double-sided wall poster and double-sided case art (thus giving you four options to choose from for showing off your Blu-ray.) As for on-disc extras there’re three of them here. The first is an hour long “making of” doc called “Dario Argento’s Monkey Business” with interview from many of the filmmakers, including Dario himself. There’s a six minute interview with composer Claudio Simonetti called “Music for Maggots” and lastly a twenty minute Q&A session with Sergio Stivaletti, the special makeup effects artist for this, and many Argentto films, called “Creepers and Creatures.”

Come on people, it’s Argento and Arrow Video back together again. Consider this one highly recommended.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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