Monday, March 7, 2011

Italian Alien Rip Off From The Deep or Deep Eco Message Film?

D.Antonio Margheriti (Anthony Dawson)
One 7 Movies
Full Frame 1:33
92 Minutes

This Italian genre mish-mash is basically advertised in the artwork as an ALIENS rip off, but it is actually just barely that, yet in reality is so, so much more. A Johnny come late in the Alien falls to Earth sub-genre by 1989, with by that year what would be primitive special effects, this movie has a whole lot to love. It it had been made even ten years earlier I could imagine it playing drive-in double bills, or urban theater afternoon matinees for quite some time. This is the exact kind of movie I used to sit glued to cable TV mid-day and watch while playing with my toys as a kid. Movies like SPACE RAIDERS, YOR THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (also directed by Margheriti) or Luigi Cozzi’s really shitty, but terribly entertaining HERCULES movies. If I had seen ALIEN FROM THE DEEP at ten years old it would have been on of my favorite movies of that year. But by 1989 I was about to enter college. I was well aware of so bad their good movies and would have loved it for different reasons.

"Maam I resent you saying I dress like Wil Wheaton. You need to put some clothes on before I throw you off my boat!"

Pretty Marina Giulia Cavalli stars as Jane a Greenpeace investigator heading to a remote island in tow with her lovelorn and trusty cameraman Lee (Robert Marius) (who only shoots with a VHS camera!) to look for the shady doings of corporate criminals E-Chem headed by baddy Charles Napier. Turns out these dunderheads have been dumping all their toxic waste into the local, very active volcano! Along the way they meet some local witch doctors and have some various jungle adventures. In fact the whole first half of the movie is an action/adventure movie about this couple trying to get the goods on E-Chem and evading capture. I kept checking the dvd box and wondering if I had been misled about this whole Alien/monster business.

"Goddammit! I used to work for Russ Meyer! I was around titties til Tuesday! How'd I end up on this helicopter with you?!"

Not that it isn’t entertaining and well handled. It all has a sort of ROMANCING THE STONE vibe going on as Jane meets Bob (Daniel Bosch) the local snake wrangle (wink wink!) who helps her out of a jam and into his heart. He gets a glimpse of her in his shirt after a shower and he is sucked into her whole scheme. Even the fact he keeps a pet cobra that roams free in his pad, doesn’t deter her from his wiley ways either. They play house while her friend Lee is being tortured for information by those evil E-Chem bastards!

"He's the "snakecharmer" hardy har har..."

Then finally about the 50 minute mark a meteor falls into the lake by the volcano and a monster crawls out into the water. The E-Chem scientist a kindly old man named Dr. Geoffries (Alan Collins) explains it came from space attracted to the power of the toxic waste and is using it to gain power and grow! See the movie threw you a curve ball! You thought some monster was going to be born out of the volcano or some prehistoric dinosaur or something! Nope! it came from space to stomp their asses! From here it gets right down to it, biting the head off a diver and burrowing into the ground heading towards the factory.

Jane and Bob are heading back to the factory because Lee hid a VHS tape of the toxic dumping there as well, so all is on a collision course for CRAZY! The creature is stopping along the way to pinch people in half with the giant claw or melt their face off with his radioactive touch, or slimy residue. All we see of the big guy for the most part is that big ass lobster claw bursting out of the ground or through walls until the big finale when he stands upright. He looks like a two story bio-mechanical car engine with lobster claws mixed with a transformer toy. Which is to say he looks FUCKING AWESOME. 

"Beat this shit Michael Bay!!!"

A couple of other highlights include a character having his leg melted by radioactive goo while he still walks around, Dr. Geoffries running around with a huge retrofitted flame thrower, and best of all Jane having to be “decontaminated” from the monster goo, which means she ends up in a wet T-shirt and underwear for the entire climax of the movie. That’s some good thinking Right there. The effects are of the old school blowing up miniatures variety. Which adds a real charm to the proceedings as well.

For all the shooting and monster chomping and some splatter action, the movie is surprisingly non-offensive. The gore is not really lingered on, and there is no sex or nudity (wet T-shirt not withstanding). Only the occasional F-bombs really land this with the R-rating. Hell if I had kids I’d probably let them watch it. Like I said, if I saw this when I was ten years old I’d have loved this. 

"Apparently the monster farts glass."

The DVD is sparse on extras, only a “image gallery” that is images from the actual film, and a grainy ass many generation away copy of the Italian credits sequence. I would have loved some interviews or even just a trailer. This is a full frame presentation but it seems like it may have been shot that way as it never feels like the frame is tight or missing information. 

Overall quite and enjoyable pulp sci-fi flick that I feel no shame in recommending to fellow aficionados of this sort of thing. 

Review © Andy Copp

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