Rec Room: Phenomena

I find that there are two schools of thought re: Dario Argento’s films: they’re gratuitous, badly-acted crap, or they’re gratuitous, badly-acted brilliance. But even his admirers are ready to admit the man’s movies are uneven at best. Suspiria irrefutably falls into the latter category, containing all his best trademarks (creatively low-budget yet effective gore, striking cinematography, truly insane plot lines involving supernatural forces–in this case, a hideous, dying witch).

However, the jury’s out on Phenomena.


  • Pre-Labyrinth Jennifer Connelly, who clearly never went through an awkward stage, the bitch.
  • A knife-wielding chimpanzee.
  • Some truly creepy imagery, including a shot of someone being stabbed through the back of their head with the blade protruding from the victim’s screaming mouth, and a last-act villain who could not be more disgusting if Dario had fashioned him out of an embalmed horse fetus.  The Saw Franchise clearly took a page from Argento’s book.


  • Really, really bad acting. Connelly is decent, but only by comparison.
  • Really, really obtrusive music by the likes of Iron Maiden and Motörhead.
  • Lots and Lots of bugs. Eeeek!
  • A knife-wielding chimpanzee.

Recommend if: you’re in the mood to make fun of an alternately cheesy but truly freakish horror-flick. A glass of wine (or three) adds to the experience.
Stay away if: you’ve never seen Argento’s work before. Start with Suspiria, then go from there.