Originally released on January 31, 1985 in Italy, Dario Argento’s Phenomena didn’t reach theaters in the United States until August 30th of that year, retitled Creepers and shortened from 116 minutes to 83 minutes. Coming off an impressive run of genre favorites—Deep Red, Suspiria, Inferno, Tenebrae—Phenomena was widely considered his weakest offering at the time. The story concerns a young girl who communicates with insects to identify a serial killer. Weird yes, but Phenomena is far from Argento’s least interesting film, particularly considering the mixed bag that made up the later part of his career.

The daughter of a famous American movie star, Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly), arrives at an exclusive Swiss boarding school for girls. Her roommate tells her that several girls have gone missing, perhaps victims of a serial killer. A severe sleepwalker, Jennifer finds herself lost in the woods. She encounters a friendly chimpanzee (really!) which leads her to safety at the home of its owner, wheelchair-bound entomologist Professor John McGregor (Donald Pleasence). The two become fast friends after Jennifer reveals she can communicate telepathically with insects. Professor McGregor has been assisting police with the apparent serial killings. McGregor believes that the missing girls’ corpses can be located by the Great Sarcophagus, a type of fly that can detect rotting flesh. Naturally, McGregor convinces Jennifer she can solve the case, even as others believe her sleepwalking makes her a suspect in the case.

Yes, some of the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, but Argento deserves kudos for originality. The same giallo formula has been copied countless times, but Phenomena presents some original, if bizarre ideas. Watching the film for the first time in the late 1980’s, I remember wondering what was going on. From all the crazy subplots, to the ending, my fascination with it led to several more viewings. The oddity of the film makes it memorable.

Presented in the 1:67.1 aspect ratio, Synapse Films 4K Dolby Vision presentation excellent in every way. offering superb, natural flesh tones throughout.  Textures are pleasing, whether it be costumes, or the fur of a chimpanzee. Interiors retain supreme clarity, be it Switzerland or darker imagery. As with many of Dario Argento’s films, Phenomena bursts with color, and the UHD experience heightens the top-notch cinematography. Blacks are deep, dark and inky throughout. A nice level of grain has resolved nicely. There are no apparent issues with the image.

For the “Italian Version,” a 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix is one of three selections available for the cut (Italian 5.1 and 2.0 stereo soundtracks), and the only English language track has, moments switching to “hybrid” Italian with English subtitles. Synapse Films has done a great job here too, providing clear and concise dialogue throughout, and solid dubbing. Music cues sound full throughout, with a nice level of bass. Atmospherics are effective, offering a realistic presence. There are no audio issues throughout.

English SDH and English subtitles are included.

The following special features are available:

Disc One:

  • Audio Commentary with film historian Troy Howarth.
  • “Of Flies and Maggots” (HD, 120:13) A 2017 making-of documentary on Phenomena featuring interviews with director Dario Argento, screenwriter Franco Ferrini, executive producer Angelo Iacono, special optical effects artist Luigi Cozzi, cinematographer Romano Albani, special FX artist Sergio Stivaletti, makeup artist Pierantonio Mecacci, underwater camera operator Gianlorenzo Battaglia, assistant director Michele Soavi, composers Simon Boswell and Claudio Simonetti, and actors Davide Marotta, Fiore Argento, and Daria Nicolodi.
  • “Jennifer” (SD, 4:11) A music video from composer Claudio Simonetti.
  • Japanese Pressbook: Pages are shown.
  • Italian Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:36)
  • International Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:36)

Disc Two:

  • Audio Commentary with film historian David Del Valle and author Derek Botelho on the “International Version.”
  • “The Three Sarcophagi” (HD, 31:02) A video essay by Michael MacKenzie, exploring the differences in the three versions of Phenomena included on this release.
  • U.S. Radio Spots (Audio, 1:03) Two commercials for Creepers.
  • U.S. Theatrical Trailer for Creepers (HD, 1:27)