PHENOMENA UHD REVIEW

Its quite something when a Dario Argento film is released in a sexy new form and there is little or no, fanfare to meet it. I am not saying that the usual fan boys (like me) or genre hounds are not clawing at the coffin lid for the release. More I am saying it is broadly subdued. I pondered  why? The answer from my exploration was both rather obvious and slightly annoying.  It has not taken long to complete the journey of the Argento masterworks on the UHD by Arrow. These have been very good indeed (I review them here). Then to get PHENOMENA or CREEPERS onto UHD, seemed to be overkill (pardon the pun) and more the desire of Arrow over the desire of a film audience. Arrow released this as a DVD, then a BLU RAY and then, this version with a 4K UHD release. All were rather average but also, all were considered standard releases of the films and better than the trash versions prior, even if they were not cut or had the directors cut and the US CREEPERS cut.

A young girl Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connolly), joins a an exclusive Swiss boarding school. The fresh air, brisk walks and fluid culture, should bring her back to better ness and wellness after a tough time at her last school. While there she discovers an amazing ability to communicate with insects. An ability to guide them. Make them do things for her. Tell her things that are important. Locally, a series of unexplained murders have been happening. Targeting young girls and seemingly involving a maniac. Jennifer might be of help solving them with her gift. However, being the daughter of a famous actor, has it s downsides. Alongside her sleepwalking, she has pests of the journalistic nature and a killer on her trial.

I like PHENOMENA. Many do. The interesting thing here (as before) is that we have three versions of the film and this means we get less than comfortable version of the film called CREEPERS. Being faithful, the release has attempted to be the complete, all under one roof release and has more or less succeeded. There is mostly good on the restoration front. Yes, the Italian version has colour issues, with an extra problem with the light seemingly leaking a little here and there. The English language version and the other versions (CREEPERS) are well fixed, with only a smattering of slight texture weakness on the early, external scenes. Extras are however the really positive or more aspect of the release. Troy Howarth new commentary is top of the list in its completeness. His book on Argento was stellar and he literally transposes most of the chapter on PHENOMENA into this chat, with maybe a bit more humour and a little less briskness. Michael Mackenzie three cuts essay is also well worth watching, if not just to see a clear discussion on the use and abuse of horror, cultural tastes and the power of less and the desire for more. Derek Botelho and film historian, journalist and radio/television commentator David Del Valle scrub up well the ‘international version’ but I prefer Howarth more invested version.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • New 4K restoration of the original 116minute Italian version, the 110minute international English version and the 83minute US “Creepers” version from the original camera negative by Arrow films
  • 4K (2160p) UHD Bluray™ presentations of all three versions in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
  • Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Mikel J. Koven, Rachael Nisbet and Leonard Jacobs
  • Foldout doublesided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative
  • Six doublesided, postcardsized lobby card reproduction artcards

Disc 1 – Italian Version:

  • Lossless Italian DTSHD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 stereo soundtracks, derived from the original 4channel Dolby Stereo elements
  • Lossless “hybrid” English/Italian DTSHD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack*
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the hybrid soundtrack
  • Audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of Murder by Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento
  • Of Flies and Maggots, a featurelength 2017 documentary produced for Arrow Films, including interviews with cowriter/producer/director Dario Argento, actors Fiore Argento, Davide Marotta, Daria Nicolodi and Fiorenza Tessari, cowriter Franco Ferrini, cinematographer Romano Albani, production manager Angelo Iacono, special optical effects artist Luigi Cozzi, special makeup effects artist Sergio Stivaletti, makeup artist Pier Antonio Mecacci, underwater camera operator Gianlorenzo Battaglia, and composers Claudio Simonetti and Simon Boswell
  • Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
  • “Jennifer” music video, directed by Dario Argento
  • Japanese pressbook gallery

Disc Two:

  • Lossless English DTSHD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 stereo soundtracks on the international version, derived from the original 4channel Dolby Stereo elements
  • Lossless English PCM soundtracks on Creepers, mastered from the original 3 track DME magnetic mix and presented in two variants: 1.0 mono and an alternate 2.0 mix with stereo music.
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary on the international version by Argento scholar and author Derek Botelho and film historian, journalist and radio/television commentator David Del Valle
  • The Three Sarcophagi, a visual essay by Arrow producer Michael Mackenzie comparing the different cuts of Phenomena
  • Rare alternate 2.0 stereo mix on the international version, featuring different sound effects and music cues
  • US theatrical trailer
  • US radio spots

* The 116minute 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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