Our second Officially Licensed collection is for the incomparable Dario Argento film... Phenomena.
This is one of our favorite Argento films and if you trust IMDB it's one of his favorites too! We're eternally grateful to do officially licensed art for this film and we hope we did it justice.
Phenomena was released in 1985 staring Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer Corvino. Jennifer is sent to a fancy all-girl boarding school in Switzerland. Little does she know there's a murderer terrorizing the area killing young women. Jennifer has a fondness for insects and it appears they return the sentiment. I like bugs, if there's a spider or cockroach in my house I just pick them up and take them outside. I'm secretly hoping that this will allow me, some telepathic control over them, like Jennifer develops in the film.
Next in our cast of characters is the always charming Donald Pleasance playing Professor John McGregor an entomologist (studier of bugs). In his spare time he assists the enterprising local detectives with their investigations by educating them on the eight squadrons of death! Which are the sequence of insects that participate in the decomposition process of a dead body. These different insects can essentially give approximate times of death to the educated observer. Professor McGregor is wheelchair bound and amazingly enlists the help of a chimpanzee Inga played by the real chimpanzee named Zanga to help with his everyday tasks. In the filming of one of the final scenes Inga bit part of Jennifer Connelly's finger off and she had to be rushed to the hospital to have it reattached. I for one never wanna be on the opposite end of a chimpanzee, I like my fingers and face the way they are.
Jennifer begins to sleepwalk while at school, something we find out later has happened before. She goes on quite the adventure in her dreamlike state and even witnesses a murder. In her travels she's rescued by Inga and taken to Professor McGregor. Through this serendipity she opens herself to her potential, telepathically communicating with insects. As she develops her powers, she unravels the murder mystery happening in town and scares a bunch of teenage girls in the process.
Phenomena is a wild movie. The opening kill sequence is fantastic and you'll never see a shinier or larger pair of scissors in your life. I've always been a fan of movies or stories that enlist the help of the supernatural to solve crimes. When a detective has reached the end of their rope and visits a psychic for help that's the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that gets the job done. But using insects to lead to the killer, that's the open-mindedness that leads to world peace. The supernatural elements and the different surprises in the story throughout the film make for a very enjoyable ride.
The score for this movie is also one of our favorites from Goblin. We've had the tremendous pleasure to see Goblin live once for Deep Red and once for Suspiria. If you ever have the opportunity do not miss the chance to see them perform the score live for any film, it's always incredible. They also play a set of the classics and Phenomena is always in there. There is something so special about the Argento/Goblin combo that elevates the whole experience.
We wanted to add to that experience in our own way. This is the first time we've used an outside artist for a film project and we could not be happier with the collaboration! Catie St. Jacques @sun_keep was our first choice to bring the beauty and goddess power out of Phenomena. Jennifer Connelly has a poise throughout the film that we wanted to capture and Catie nailed it. For our second design we wanted to highlight the eight squadrons of death and showoff some super rad insects. Life feeds off life and what good Giallo design is complete without a straight razor?
When we first considered pursuing Phenomena as a project we immediately wanted to do something with mounted insects. How cool would it be to have a bug with Phenomena art screen printed on it? And with ignorant exuberance we dove head first into the complicated and sometimes secretive world of insect preservation. For months Stephen reached out to anyone we could think of to help us realize our dream, with no success. We reached a point where we were just gonna buy bugs site-unseen from South America or abandon the idea. Finally, we found Bicbugs.com and they were willing to help. We are so glad this project came together and a huge shoutout to Stephen for not giving up, he's the bug hero we deserve.
Overall, this is, in our opinion, the best collection we've done in our short history. We really do hope you love what we've come up with. And remember go save a bug it may save your life one day.