“We call them the eight squadrons of death. First, comes the common fly. Lays its eggs in the rotting corpse and thus the cycle begins.” Leave it to Donald Pleasence to deliver a line like that. Join your faithful Grue-Crew – Bill Mulligan, Chad Hunt, Crystal Cleveland, and Jeff Mohr – as they survive another trip inside the mind of Dario Argento by way of Phenomena (1985).
Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 168 – Phenomena (1985)
A young girl, with an amazing ability to communicate with insects, is transferred to an exclusive Swiss boarding school, where her unusual capability might help solve a string of murders.IMDb
- Director: Dario Argento
- Writers: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini
- Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer Corvino
- Daria Nicolodi as Frau Brückner
- Dalila Di Lazzaro as Headmistress
- Patrick Bauchau as Inspector Rudolf Geiger
- Donald Pleasence as Professor John McGregor
- Tanga as Inga
- Fiore Argento as Vera Brandt
- Federica Mastroianni as Sophie
- Gaspare Capparoni as Karl
- Fiorenza Tessari as Gisela Sulzer
- Mario Donatone as Morris Shapiro
- Michele Soavi as Kurt, Geiger’s assistant
- Davide Marotta as Frau Brückner’s son
Take Dario Argento’s third film in the 1980s, the second film in Jennifer Connelly’s career, add Daria Nicolodi and Donald Pleasence and what do you get? The answer is Phenomena, not the best but certainly not the worst of Argento’s films. Phenomena features a chimpanzee as a key character and Bill reveals his well-founded fear of chimpanzees. On the other hand, Jeff really dug the image of the chimpanzee wielding a shiny straight razor and bearing its teeth with glee. Chad says he rented the videocassette of Phenomena for no other reason than it included music by Iron Maiden and Motörhead. On the other hand, Crystal thought the music by Motörhead and Iron Maiden doesn’t fit and pulled her out of the film. All hands agree that Phenomena is definitely worth a watch.
We learned of Daria Nicolodi’s passing after the recording of this episode and before it was scheduled to be published. During the episode, Bill Mulligan emphatically proclaims his love for her as an actor and a writer. We will most assuredly have much more to say about her in the future.
As of this writing, Phenomena is available to stream on Shudder and Amazon Prime, and as physical media on a Blu-ray from Synapse Films.
Every two weeks, Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1980s podcast will cover another horror film from the 1980s. The next episode’s film, chosen by Crystal, will be Pumpkinhead (1988), directed by Stan Winston and starring Lance Henrickson.
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