Phenomena (aka Psychomania depending on what country you’re in and/or when you sought out a copy of it) and The Room are the two movies I absolutely love to show to people and see their reactions to.
I don’t think The Room needs much explanation, but it’s so awesome, and since Tommy actually did hire a professional sound/etc. crew to make it it’s just watchable enough to make the general weirdness of Tommy and his script one of the most WTF and laughable viewing experiences ever that’s still in a movie that’s still generally watchable. It’s amazing.
Now Phenomena, oh my word. This is a movie that for the first ten minutes or so seems like it’s going to be a typical giallo, but then suddenly we learn that Jennifer Connelly…
Has never ever been harmed by a bug.
She starts having weird visions of people being killed as the killings are happening set to the Iron Maiden song Flash of the Blade.
She figures out why this is happening by working with a professor played by Donald Pleasance with whom she deduces that…
She can communicate with insects telepathically and they’re trying to warn her when the killer is nearby
So Donald Pleasance then gives us a crash course in how human corpses decay so that we understand a scene where Jennifer
Travels around with a sarcophagus beetle knowing it will immediately be drawn to any body that has decayed __ amount of time within the timeframe of her last vision, and this actually works and lets her locate the killer’s lair!!!
After which the killer realizes folks are onto them so they…
Kill Donald Pleasance, much to the chagrin of his pet chimpanzee Inga. Inga is devasated by this, like seriously the chimp’s performance and all of the editing around the chimp is amazing, she’s just treated like another human character, it’s great. Anyway after she breaks down at the site of Pleasance’s body we cut to the killer driving away ominously, only to be shocked by an enraged Inga lunging in front of the car and trying to cause them to crash! Inga is eventuallhy thrown from the car and it speeds off, and Inga goes to a nearby trashcan in a park where she recovers a straight razor she stashed there earlier. Pleasance asked her discard it earlier in the film because he didn’t want her fooling around with potentially violent stuff, but Inga realizes that the time for vengeance against this person that’s hurt all of her friends is nigh.
The movie gets even crazier as it goes on and it’s just, like I love periodically seeing the looks on people’s faces as the movie gets further and further away from where it began. It’s one of my favorite movies ever for that. And then the last fifteen minutes or so of it are even more ridiculous/awesome.
Clock Tower cribbed a lot from this and another Argento film, Deep Red, but I wish Clock Tower’s sequels had more of the lunacy from Phenomena in them.