Wednesday, April 5, 2017

F This Movie! 380 - Phenomena with Jackson Stewart

Writer/director Jackson Stewart returns to the show so he and Patrick can bug out on this Dario Argento classic. Watch out for the monkey!

Download this episode here. (34.3 MB)

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Also discussed this episode: The Seventh Juror (1962), Power Rangers (2017), Beyond the Gates (2016), The Void (2017), They're Playing With Fire (1984)

Follow Jackson Stewart on Twitter here and on Instagram here!


  1. Inga's not a monkey, guys; she's an ape. I wouldn't have mentioned it, but you say "monkey" about fifty times in this cast. Monkeys usually have tails, whereas apes do not. We are apes. Check the back of your trousers if you're in any doubt. If there's a tail poking through, you're a monkey, or possibly a dog or cat. Get away from your owner's computer in that event. Bad non-hominid.

    If there's a small vestigial tail like the one Jason Alexander had in Shallow Hal, you could still be a Barbary macaque (a monkey, despite what some of their PR people might tell you). If that turns out to be the case, tell those British occupiers to be on their way. Hang on, I might be thinking of the Falkland Islands. Gibraltar is the one in The Living Daylights. Was Timothy Dalton nice? I don't know what I'm asking you for; you lack the ability to vocalise words. Stupid monkey.

    Or a cow or zebra or something.

    Have a great day, whatever species you are.

    Why do all the spammers go to the Man with the Golden Gun page?

    1. Actually, I think they say monkey 52 times, not 50. Geez, get your facts right, man. ;)

  2. I wrote this super long comment earlier and lost internet the minute I hit send. Short version: great listen. Tiny bit longer version: WNUF is incredible (shout out to DMV filmmakers), Been looking forward to The Void for quite a while and Phenomena is, to me, Bava at his most playful having a lot of fun.

  3. Michael GiammarinoApril 5, 2017 at 9:20 PM

    Patrick, when you were wondering why Dario would go to such lengths to include an ape in the film the way he did, I think the answer touches on an observation you made early on. You mentioned how the ape recalls Murders in the Rue Morgue. Dario is a huge Poe fan. There's no doubt in my mind that the ape's inclusion in the story is due to Dario's love of Poe.

  4. Nice podcast, but the whole time I was thinking, "I don't remember that scene?". Then again, I didn't watch it 3 times in 2 days. Nevertheless, time for a rewatch.

  5. As I become a larger Argento fan - the more I think of him like Picasso, as in abstract. Though this could be making excuses for the odd dialogue, but with the crazy dubbing and so forth I like that everything is so off kilter. But that is just me.

  6. I'm glad Patrick watched all three cuts because I tend to like the longer cuts of these films as they tend to spend time building atmosphere and sucking you in, even though some might consider that "too slow".

    One thing I want to bring up is "logic". Patrick and Jackson spend some time talking about it, and I think it's an important part of Italian horror cinema. These filmmakers eschew logic.

    First, let's look at the dialogue. Now, a case can be made that some of the nonsensical dialogue comes from the translation. Ostensibly, the scripts are written in Italian and later translated into English, so I grant that some of the weirdness may come from there (I watched Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key on Shudder the other day, and it's in Italian with subtitles. I am not fluent in Italian, but I understand it well enough; some of the changes were very unnecessary, but nothing that lost or altered the meaning so much as to make an impact [changing 7 o'clock to 8? WTF]. True, those translations are probably newer and imposed upon the film after the fact, rather than being the lines that, say, Jennifer Connelly has in her working script, but I don't think it matters). What I mean is, I don't think it's the translation that makes it weird. I think it’s just weird.

    If you watch Italian films of any genre--but especially gialli and horror films--you'll notice there is a focus on the eyes, often involving a zoom in or out (much to JB's chagrin). The eye is important for two reasons. The first is the superstition of the evil eye, or "malocchio". Malocchio is a curse usually cast by envious thoughts and a glare, though it need not necessarily be envy--any hateful thought will do. The curse brings bad luck to the person upon whom it has been cast. In other words, there is a connection between the eye and bad things happening. The second is, perhaps, more obvious: we look with our eyes. It's hard to say "Italian films are more visual" because all films are looked at. However, looking is of a higher importance in these films. Think of the all of the colors in Bava's films, the nudity in the giallo films, and the gore in all of them, and even the focus on "the windows to the soul"; the act of looking is elevated in one particular way, and that way is to elicit an emotional reaction rather than just to show a situation unfolding.

    My point is this: Italian horror cinema is expressionistic. The entire point of expressionism is to focus on the subjective and, particularly, emotional experience. In other words, logic doesn't matter. Feel, don't think. Now, that doesn't mean don't try to understand it outside of the film, as Patrick and Jackson do with the theme of abandonment (which I think is really interesting). What it does mean is that, if the characters say something like "the Transylvania of Switzerland", its purpose is to evoke our feelings of Transylvania rather than to make strict sense.

    That is why, I suppose, I think City of the Living Dead is poetry. I see it and I feel it and it just works--even the last shot, Patrick! Hell!!!!!!

    Anyway, great show! I know I drifted from Phenomena, but the more Italian horror, the better!

  7. This was a particularly good episode. I hope that Jackson Stewart can come back.

    1. Thank you! I hope so too. I can almost guarantee he will be back.