Tenebre / Phnomena Dario Argento

Though their plots couldn’t be more different, Dario Argento’s Tenebre and Phenomena suffered similar fates upon release during the ’80s in North America. Both were cut almost beyond recognition and renamed (Unsane and Creepers, respectively), while Tenebre was banned in the UK and deemed a "video nasty.” Though this isn’t the first release for either of these flicks by Anchor Bay, thankfully these special editions serve a purpose, with Argento commentaries, a range of featurettes and lesser extras. Tenebre (1982) finds the legendary director delving into the giallo genre with a thriller concerning a copycat killer following a best-selling author’s latest title. It sounds predictable but like any Argento film it’s masterfully executed with ambiguity and blood-curdling finesse, thanks to unexplained flashbacks and a vicious disregard for any and every character’s life. Phenomena (1985), meanwhile, returned Argento to his specialty — supernatural mind-fuckery — with the tale of a young telepathic girl who finds herself a serial killer’s target. A 15-year-old Jennifer Connelly plays Jennifer, a sleepwalking outcast who is banished to a Swiss boarding school where she discovers she can communicate with insects. Of course, this sets up some classic Argento shots where he can balance his love for barmy fantasy and with eminent blood lust. You can make the case that both films only gained cult status because of Argento’s unique and often absurd narrative (he wrote both), however, any fan will regard these two as defining moments in the career of one of the great unsung auteurs of our time. Plus: music videos, bio, interview. (Anchor Bay)