Coherently Incoherent? Dario Argento’s Phenomena and the Influence of the Music Video

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Pollard, Damien 

This article examines one of Dario Argento’s most critically overlooked films, Phenomena (1985). Scholars have tended to dismiss this film as a confused mess, and frequently point to Argento’s incongruous use of heavy metal music as evidence of its textual incoherence. I challenge this critical dismissal by examining Phenomena’s production history and the wider media landscape within which it circulated, and suggest that the emerging form of the music video – which was becoming prominent in Italian media thanks to the rise of the Videomusic channel and several music video television shows – was a key influence on both the film’s overall form and its use of music. Read in terms of this influence, Phenomena acquires a formal coherence, and testifies to a key moment in 1980s Italian media history when the country’s film, music and television industries were consolidating.

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L'avventura: International Journal of Italian Film and Media Landscapes
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