“Jennifer Corvino, the daughter of a famous actor, has had trouble with sleepwalking for some time. Her doctor said that it can develop a split personality. She discovers her alternate personality when she stays at a boarding school that was once the home of Richard Wagner. But someone has been killing the students, and it relates only indirectly to the criminal sanitarium nearby. So it’s up to the two greatest detectives the world has ever known, or should I say, unknown.” (courtesy IMDB)
This week I have a real classic from one of the Masters Of Horror, at least according to that recent cable television series. You know, the one that doesn’t have a host, hint, hint. This film introduces one of the princesses of fantasy cinema, now an Academy Award winning actress. So, let me take great delight in discussing Jennifer Connelly in Dario Argento’s Creepers (1985). I hope you have your sick bucket ready.
Creepers is an edited version of the Dario Argento film Phenomena (1985). The title was changed to Creepers because it was decided most Americans can’t pronounce Phenomena. Argento made it between Tenebrae (1982) and Opera (1987), but it’s more like his earlier classic Suspiria (1977). There may be almost thirty minutes missing from it, but it’s not as if you’d notice. Creepers was the first film to utilise the new science of Forensic Entomology, so if your flesh is creeping right now, well, I’m hardly in a position to sympathise, am I? The stars of Creepers have been in some of the all-time greats of genre cinema. It’s what I call a Two-Clicks-Away film. If you look up the film on the Internet Movie Data Base, it’s just Two-Clicks-Away from some of the greatest films of all time.
For example, actress Jennifer Connelly won an Academy Award for A Beautiful Mind (2001), and many people assume her first film was Labyrinth (1986) with Jim Henson and David Bowie, but she was actually selected for Labyrinth by Henson because of her performance in Creepers. Connelly was also in the genre classics Dark City (1998), Hulk (2003), The Rocketeer (1991) and Requiem For A Dream (2000) – I’m so glad they didn’t use her final scene from that film for the Oscars – but her first film was Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America (1984). If you click on Dario Argento, you get not only Deep Red (1975), Suspiria (1977) and Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005), but also one of my all-time favourite westerns, Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), with Bernardo Bertolucci and Sergio Leone.
Donald Pleasance had worked with John Carpenter three times, in Halloween (1978), Escape From New York (1981) and Prince Of Darkness (1987). He was also in such anti-classics as Halloween IV: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween V: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989), and Halloween VI: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995), otherwise known as Austin Powers one, two and three. Donald Pleasance had the kind of career that would make greater actors weep with envy. He’s in Django Strikes Again (1987), Race For The Yankee Zephyr (1981), Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie (1984), The Great Escape (1963) and its sequel The Great Escape II (1988). He died in the first one, so they brought him back as a Nazi interrogator in the second one. He was also in the 1956 Nineteen Eighty-Four (1956), not to be confused with the 1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), or the 1954 Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954), either.
Daria Nicolodi is Dario Argento’s long-time partner. Argento, like many directors, believed in having his lover on-set, to make sure he didn’t get hit with any sexual harassment suits. That’s why the ASPCA is so active in Hollywood today. Patrick Bauchau was more recently seen as the blind Professor Lodz in the series Carnivale. He was also in A View To A Kill (1985), and a lot of television.
But the real star of the film is director Dario Argento, who is quoted as saying “The death of a beautiful woman is possibly the most poetic topic in the world”, so get ready to see the Poetry Round of the Snuff Beauty Pageant that is Phenomena, I mean Creepers, because I make a little cameo in the maggot bath scene. I really recommend maggot baths, they can clean out the most inaccessible of crevices. But anyway, continuing my policy of discussing the early work of today’s Oscar winners, please join me next week for Peter Jackson’s debut, Bad Taste (1987), the best film ever made each Sunday over three years. Until then, toodles!