Phenomena title

AKA: Creepers

PhenomenaOne of the more bizarre films that Dario Argento directed was this rather odd murder/mystery, which was set at a Swiss boarding school in the Alps. A young Jennifer Connelly stars as an American student named Jennifer Corvino, who's been sent to the academy by her father, who's a well respected movie star.

Unfortunately, something is amiss at the school and students are starting to disappear, along with some of the local girls. With the police on the case her schoolteacher Mrs Bruckner (Daria Nicoladi) tells the girls not to worry. But Jennifer however has a rather bizarre gift, she is able to communicate with insects and seeing as the police are drawing blanks in there inquiries she hopes this will enable her to locate the killer herself.

She befriends a wheelchair bound professor named John McGregor, who happens to live nearby (played by Donald Pleasance, with a rather dodgy Scottish accent). It turns out his field of expertise is in entomology (bug specialist in other words) and the police have been using his skills to help them identify the time of death of some of the victims. He agrees to help guide her in her quest to find the killer, but when he himself becomes one of the victims, Jennifer is left alone to confront the killer which soon becomes apparent is someone closer to her than she first realised.

Though not Argento's greatest work (that achievement would have to be Tenebrae in my book), it is indisputably his most outrageous. Mutant babies, surreal sleepwalking scenes, girls who can talk to insects, body pits, some choice dialogue "That fly is your magic wand", a bizarre school complex that's more like a labyrinth, and to top it all off a razor wielding chimpanzee are all part of the norm here. If you put all forms of logic on hold you'll undoubtedly enjoy it, definitely one I'd recommend to fans of Argento's other films.

Overall Marks : 5/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • No taglines were used for the current UK and US releases, but tag lines used from other versions are... "Jennifer Has A Few Million Close Friends. She's Going To Need Them All.", "It Will Make Your Skin Crawl.", "From Dario Argento the Master of Terror", "Evil is alive and killing", "A new breed of terror.", "A nightmare ALIVE!".

  • Jennifer Connelly also appeared in "Once upon a time America", "Labyrinth", "Mullholland Falls" and "Waking the Dead".

  • This film had the distinction of actually being filmed in English and then dubbed into Italian, as opposed to Argento's other films, which were usually made the other way round.

  • The late Donald Pleasance was undoubtedly best known for his role as Dr Loomis in the classic horror film "Halloween". He has appeared in over 180 films and TV movies during his 45 year career, but sadly passed away in 1995 at the age of 76, having just finished filming "Halloween 6 : The Curse of Michael Myers".

  • Argento's former partner Daria Nicoladi turns up in a usual co-starring role, this time playing the teacher Mrs Bruckner.

  • Assistant director Michael Soavi makes a cameo appearance as one of the detectives at McGregor's house.

  • The original UK and US releases were entitled "Creepers", and were missing about 28 minutes of footage. The cuts were mostly to the dialogue in order to speed up the plot, and missed out most of the initial conversations between Jennifer and her room mate when she first arrives at the school, and shortens the conversation between Jennifer and John MacGregor. The scene where she gets a electroencephalogram after her first sleepwalk was also removed, along with the several close up gore shots of the murder scenes. In addition the UK censors cut a further 6 seconds from the initial Cinema release and 17 seconds from the original UK video release (the UK Creepers video clocks in at about 80 mins). There were also a few other minor differences between the previous and current releases with the length and duration of background rock music in some of the scenes.

  • The original Italian print was of the full, complete, uncut version and clocked in at about 112 minutes. The current US release by Anchor Bay is virtually the same as the Italian print, but omits a scene on the bus where an old woman asks Jennifer to close the window, and shortens the scene where Mrs. Bruckner is arguing with Jennifer about taking the pills, omitting the line where she says she is not allowed to use her phone to call Mr. Shapiro. These cuts were apparently done at directors request.

  • A special edition DVD by "Dragon" in Germany has these two omitted scenes intact, but they appear in Italian. As this film was originally made in English, it would suggest that they used the directors cut but edited in the two extra scenes from the Italian print.

  • As a general rule of thumb, the prints entitled "Creepers" are cut, but the versions released as "Phenomena" are generally uncut. However the Australian release entitled "Creepers" is the same as the current UK and US directors cuts.

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