Monday, December 31, 2007

Raise our hats to the strange 'Phenomena'

I love titling posts with obscure Kate Bush quotes. Anyway, last night it got into Art Boy and me to watch the 1985 Jennifer Connelly movie "Phenomena," directed by Dario Argento. From the opening credits this film was a revelation. On the soundtrack: Iron Maiden. Costumes: Giorgio Armani. Costarring: Donald Pleasence. By the time the action started, I had turned to Art Boy and said "Why does everyone not know about this movie?"

One reason might be that it was originally titled "Creepers" in the U.S., and preceded Jennifer Connelly's big break in "Labyrinth" by about a year. It was shot in English but features a largely Italian cast, many of whom re-dubbed their own English dialogue, so all the conversations sound incredibly stilted. For example:

Lady: This is a strange area. It's called the Transylvania of Switzerland.
Jennifer: Why is that?
Lady: I don't know. It just is.

You're left thinking "..." But fortunately, Dario Argento is in charge and the dreamlike horror sequences soon take over. Jennifer plays an American movie star's daughter sent to a Swiss boarding school, where everyone has been unnerved by a young girl's recent murder in the woods nearby. Fortunately, Jennifer can communicate telepathically with bugs -- a fact that impresses local entomologist Donald Pleasence -- and is able to find clues no one else can, such as a glove crawling with maggots. Which is good, because the killer appears to be striking again...

At first I thought the story would end up being secondary to the fabulous dream sequences, in which Jennifer sleepwalks down long hallways in her billowy Armani dresses while Iron Maiden plays. But then toward the end it becomes a pretty good mystery. Jennifer is preternaturally calm whether insects are crawling on her arms or whether she's sticking her finger down her own throat to make herself vomit. I adored this movie. Art Boy would probably appreciate my adding, however, that you'll want to finish eating beforehand.

I'm pretty stoked to watch Suspiria for the Final Girl Film Club. A copy is laid in and at the ready. We may however take a break and get a little more festive tonight... maybe some Arrested Development reruns or something crazy like that.

1 comment:

Mike_R said...

How about that special episode of Arrested Development directed by Dario Argento?