May 31, 2014

Movie Review: Contamination (1980)

An abandoned ship floats into New York harbor. A few intrepid souls board the ship and begin to search it, looking for clues to what happened. Then they find it. Reading that, it sounds an awful lot like 1979's Zombi 2, but it is actually the start of Contamination from 1980. Instead of Lucio Fulci it is Luigi Cozzi (or Lewis Coates as he is often credited). It has also been known as Alien Contamination (in a cut version) and Toxic Spawn when it was on VHS way back in the day (also cut). The movie begins as an Alien rip off, but manages to have a life of its own, holding your attention through to the ending credits.

That ship that floated into the harbor is found to be carrying these weird football shaped egg things. One is found to have rolled underneath some heating pipes where it is, well, changing. In the film it is likened to ripening, because they are first thought to be some sort of melon or avocado (yes, I laughed too). One of the bravest of the bunch picks up the ripening football egg, and just as he gets up, it explodes. The explosion deposits goo all over a few of the group and within seconds, they explode, sending their insides rocketing to the outside. It all happens in gloriously grotesque slow motion.

The one survivor of the exploding bodies incident is a police detective named Tony Aris (Marino Mase, Tenebre). He teams with Col. Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau, although Cozzi originally wanted Caroline Munro with whom he directed in Starcrash). They are led to a former astronaut who had traveled to Mars and apparently has seen these eggs before, Cmdr. Ian Hubbard (Ian McCulloch of Zombi 2 and Zombie Holocaust fame). It would seem this is set in a future time where we have successfully traveled to and from the red planet.

In between bouts of body explosions, we follow this trio as they investigate the origin of the eggs. This takes them all the way from Brooklyn to South America. It is there that they discover a plot to spread these eggs all over the world in the guise of coffee deliveries. I guess the plan is to use them as grenades to wipe out the human race so aliens can take over, or something like that.

Contamination is a blast. It is part Alien, part James Bond, and all Italian. It has that feel of Italian schlock, and that is a good thing. It is a mash up of styles with distinctive atmosphere, a few choice dialogue clunkers, and a score, oh my, the score. The music was provided by Goblin and it is an utterly delightful collection of synth/prog (that was in part stolen by Bruno Mattei for Hell of the Living Dead).

What else is there to say? Luigi Cozzi crafted a wonderful little cult film. I am not sure that is exactly what he intended it to be, but who am I to argue with results? The gooey effects, the foreboding atmosphere, the likable cast led by McCulloch, and that crazy alien that doesn't do much of anything (Cozzi claims malfunctioning mechanics and budget constraints). This is a movie to be savored, enjoyed, and just to have fun with.


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