Phenomena DVD review

Dario Argento’s giallo with Monkeys, Murders and minors is back and as bloody as ever. Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly) is the daughter of movie star. She has been sent to board in Switzerland, at a top school. When the school is haunted by a series of deaths, it appears the school might be descending into a nightmare. Jennifer cant seem to shake the fears that haunt the place and sleepwalks into all manner of horrors. Thankfully a kindly  paraplegic etymologist named John McGregor (Donald Pleasence) helps her. She also has the help of numerous bugs and insects as she can communicate with them telepathically. Will this save her from death by the unseen killers hand?

Argento was beginning to go off the boil when he made Phenomena (Also know as Creepers and available in both version on the blu ray.) Though a great film maker even then, Argento had hit a snag. He became reliant on international funding, so stuck to formulas that rewarded this. This mean that he upped the gore (though I think he enjoyed this), played on the peril (often with young woman and his own daughters at the harsh end of this) and stuck to tried and tested set pieces (in this some are excellent and as Troy Howarth says in the commentary the opening is skillfully executed Argento at his finest.) This means that Phenomena is a phenomenal film for many  reasons and a dire one for many others. The high points are the Dalila Di Lazarro ( Star of Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein) and Argento wife and muse Daria Nicolodi, both are excellent. The cinematography by Romano Albani absorbs the space like a delicate eye and the score by Goblin ( Who worked on Deep Red, Suspiria and Tenebrae) is on par with their best. The bad stuff is the hack plotting, the dull dialogue and that last act is hard to not see from some way away. However it is a film that plays to fans. It plays so well I will buy it and I have a free copy!! It is Argento at his second best and that is still a step up from many, many other film makers and film fakers!

So cant say much on the Blu as I HAVE NOT SEEN IT! The DVD of the US version looked very nice but still had a little print wear on it. The commentary is the high light. Troy Howarth is a very well studied and eager film writer who translate his passion for the film and his study (Giallo) to the commentary in a way that makes you informed but not bored.

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:

  • Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of all three versions of the film: the 116-minute Italian, 110-minute international and 83-minute Creepers cuts
  • New 5.1 surround mixes of the Italian (116-minute) and English (110-minute) soundtracks in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio, derived from the original 4-channel Dolby Stereo elements
  • New hybrid English/Italian soundtrack for the 116-minute version in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 stereo*
  • Italian soundtrack for the 116-minute version in lossless PCM 2.0 stereo
  • English soundtrack for the 110-minute version in lossless PCM 2.0 stereo
  • English soundtrack for the 83-minute version in lossless PCM 1.0 mono
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
  • The Three Sarcophagi, a new visual essay by Michael Mackenzie comparing the different cuts of Phenomena
  • Of Flies and Maggots, a new feature-length documentary including interviews with Dario Argento, actors Fiore Argento, Davide Marotta, Daria Nicolodi and Fiorenza Tessari, co-writer Franco Ferrini, cinematographer Romano Albani, production manager Angelo Jacono, assistant director Michele Soavi, special optical effects artist Luigi Cozzi, special makeup effects artist Sergio Stivaletti and more
  • Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
  • Jennifer music video, directed by Dario Argento
  • Rare Japanese vintage pressbook
  • Remastered soundtrack CD featuring the complete Goblin instrumental soundtrack, plus four bonus tracks by Simon Boswell and Andi Sex Gang
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet containing new writing by Mikel J. Koven, Rachael Nisbet and Leonard Jacobs
  • Limited edition packaging featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp

* The 116-minute Italian cut features approximately six minutes of footage for which English audio does not exist. In these instances, the hybrid track reverts to Italian audio with English subtitles.

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Simon Kennedy

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