There are many so-called “masters of horror” (they even made a television series by that name employing said masters to direct episodes), but on almost everybody’s list, you’re bound to find Dario Argento. Phenomena isn’t his best movie – that honor goes to another entry on this list – but it’s easily my second favorite. This also happens to be Jennifer Connelly’s second movie ever – the first being Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time In America, where she played the young Deborah Gelley. It was in that movie that Leone’s friend, Argento, became aware of her presence and decided to cast her in this little ditty. (Because when I see Jennifer Connelly, I, too, think of legions of insects adorning her body.)

The gist of the movie is: Jennifer Corvino (played by Connelly) is being forced to attend a boarding school for girls where the students are being killed off one by one. (Typical boarding school business. No big deal.) Eventually, a forensic entomologist named John McGregor (played by Donald Pleasence) who’s on the case, teams up with Corvino, who just so happens to have the uncanny ability to communicate telepathically with – and on occasion control – insects. McGregor and Corvino utilize this semi-super-power to find the murderer, who happens to be—well, let’s just say that fans of man-murdering troll-babies should be especially pleased. I know I was!

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