Thursday, 18 January 2018

Phenomena (1985)

"Great Transfer of an Argento Classic With New Extras"

Arrow Films strike again with a 4k transfer of Dario Argento's 1985 thriller that mixes schoolgirls, a crazed killer, a chimp called Inga and a Great Sarcophagus fly who is never named.

Jennifer Connolly is Jennifer Corvino, who has the curious ability to be able to communicate with insects. She's sent by her film star father to one of those private girls' school we only ever see in Italian films, so we shouldn't really be surprised when it turns out there's a killer who is bumping off the pupils. Jennifer uses her ludicrous skill to find the ludicrous killer leading to a finale so utterly ludicrous one can only conclude that PHENOMENA is a film that is nothing short of genius.

Poorly received on its initial release, PHENOMENA was cut to bits in the UK and retitled CREEPERS. Shown (in London cinemas only) only the bottom half of a double bill with Tom Holland's FRIGHTNIGHT, it was reviewed on the BBC's Film programme with the comment that 'Donald Pleaeance should use his salary from this movie to buy up every copy and burn it'. When it hit VHS on the Palace label it did very well, of course, but it was many years before UK audiences got to see it as nature (and Argento) intended.

And pretty much all those opportunities have been courtesy of Arrow Films, who now present PHENOMENA in a brand new 4k restoration of the original 116 minute Italian cut of the film (CREEPERS came in at under 90). So does it look better than Arrow's previous Blu-ray release, also issued in a very nice limited steelbook which is the edition we have here at HMC? All I'll say is that if you're a PHENOMENA nut you will want the upgrade, but otherwise Arrow's previous Blu is perfectly adequate.

Extras are different. Here we get a feature-length making of, plus the Jennifer music video. There's still no sign in the UK of the Argento / Stivaletti / Simonetti commentary track recorded for the US Anchor Bay release. At least we do get a commentary track this time (previous releases have had none), with Troy Howarth doing the honours and telling us all about the movie.

Soundwise there's a new 5.1 DTS-HD surround mix for the Italian version, plus a new English / Italian hybrid soundtrack in lossless 5.1 and 2.0 stereo. This is a very nice package from Arrow & if you've never seen PHENOMENA on Blu-ray then this is the one to get. Those who have the previous release will hopefully now have a better idea of if they want to get this version or not.

Dario Argento's PHENOMENA is out on dual format from Arrow in a new release version from Monday 15th January 2018

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