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Jennifer (Jennifer Connelly), the neglected kid of a movieactor father,
is shipped to one boarding school after the other for her education, &
this time it's ... the Richard Wagner institute in Switzerland. But right
from the beginning she has problems to fit in: on one hand she has the
tendency to sleepwalk, on the other she can telepathically communicate
with insects & eventually control them, which gives her a rather
witchlike quality - all qualities to make her the perfect outsider. But
what's even worse, there's a killer on the loose on the school's grounds,
& he soon thinks she has seen him (her?) killing a girl ...
'Jennifer's only friend at school is her roommate, Sophie (Federica
Mastroianni), but of course, she fallsprey to the killer before long.
& when the headmistress (Dalila Di Lazzaro) soon thereafter wants
Jennifer committed to a mental asylum, she runs away, to her only other
friend in Switzerland, entomologist doc Mac Gregor (Donald Pleasence), who
soon comes up with the brilliantly stupid idea that they have to find the
killer, & with the even more stupid idea that they can do it by using
Jennifer's telepathic link to insects & a Sarcophagus fly, a fly that
only lives from human remains & can smell them for miles ... &
wouldn't you know it, it almost works ...
But while jennifer & Sarcophagus are out corpsehunting, the killer
has found out McGegor & brutally steps him, before the eyes of his
beloved chimpanzee, Inga ...
Learning that McGregor is dead, Jennifer calls her father's agent
Shapiro (Mario Donatone) to get her away, but instead of just sending her
the money for an airplane ticket he asks Miss Brucker (Daria Nicolodi),
one of the school's teachers, to give her a room for the night in her
private home & fetch her the next morning herself.
What Shapiro doesn't know though is that Miss Bruckner has a deformed,
derangecd son which she conceived when being raped in a sanitorium 15
years ago, & little sonny does like to murder around ab bit & keep
bodyparts as memorabilia ... & mum Bruckner does everything to keep
her son from being found out, even if that means chaining up a policeman
(Patrick Bauchau) in her cellar or throwing Jennifer intop a pit flooded
with bodyparts & maggots.
Somehow Jennifer gets away though, & learns Miss Bruckner's son is
no saint either, & eventually the 2 have to fight it out in a lake
covered with burning oil. Only a timely intervention of her friends, the
insects, can decide the fight in jennifer's favour.
& when she gets out of the water, her friend Shapiro is already
waiting for her ... only to be decapitated by Miss Bruckner, hwo hasn't in
the least been calmed by the cdemise of her son (& can you blame her).
But when she wants to kill Jennifer too, she is stabbed down by wandering
vengeful chimp Inga ...
This time around, diretor Dario Argento applied some fairytale motives
to his tried & true giallo formula, & created some cheesy images
to go with it. So it comes as little surprise that this is one of his
least liked films, by fans & critics alike.
But is it a bad film ? By no means, beneath its rather silly story
(& are not most giallos a bit silly) the film features some strong
images, great atmospheric shots (sometimes reminiscent of Argento's
earlier somewhat similar themed Suspiria),
gore effects at precisely the right moments, a wonderfully unhealthy
fascination with ugly insects, & a very young Jennifer Connelly in an
unusually strong leading performance.