It’s time for another insect horror movie, and this is one where the insects not only win in the end, but they do the bidding of Jennifer Connelly!
PHENOMENA (1985 aka “Creepers” in the US ) was made by Italian director Dario Argento, and is chock-full of gore, decapitations, murdering psychos, and thousands and thousands of insects. Connelly plays a young transfer student who discovers that her love of insects has turned into a psychic power, which allows her to track down the culprit of several gruesome murders. If you can stomach buckets of gore, (I really cannot), and an utterly batshit insane plot, all scored with industrial metal music, than perhaps this should be your scary-movie selection.
This is a rather unique horror film, not the least because it features a young woman in a slasher film who is totally unafraid of insects. And we’re not talking about the cute ones either. Much of the film is dedicated to her studying the extent of her insect-communication powers with the aid of an entomologist played by Donald Pleasance.
“I was alone, in the dark, needed help. It was as though the firefly heard me and answered my call.” Pleasance lays down some crazy pseudo-science to explain the insect telepathy, but also gives the audience a solid primer on forensic entomology.
Connelly is able to find the murdered victims, because “Great Sarcophagus Flies” (aka flesh-flies) are often among the first to land on a corpse, and she can see what they see. To which I should add that not only are there flesh-fly POV sequences in this film, but ladybug and even maggot POVs as well. But before we get comfy, let me tell you there are a lot of maggots in this movie, pools of them, along with lots of corpses, decapitations, and razor-wielding chimps. So caveat entomologia emptor.
But unlike so many other movies, these Sarcophagus Flies , as well as other insects, are always on the lookout to help our hero. In one of my favorite scenes, Connelly is being mercilessly taunted by a group of other girls in her boarding school, who have singled her out as a freak. Smiling, she looks out above them and declares, “I love you all.” but it becomes clear that she’s not talking to the girls, but to the angry masses of flies and bees swarming outside the windows of the school, ready to rush to her aid.
Really, doesn’t everybody want a swarm of insects to take care of their schoolyard bullies?
Speaking of swarms, take another look at the awesome poster above- dig the groovy two- and three-headed insects she’s holding in her hand! Sadly, those don’t make it into the picture. But the movie is chock-full of beetles, bees, flies, and oh so many writhing larvae.