Memories of childhood….arrrhhhh, penny sweets, Floella Benjamin, taping playing cards to your bmx to simulate a 600bhp engine. All these things bring back memories of growing up, as well as a mysterious VHS tape I had. On the end of that tape was a fantastic slow-motion shot of someone’s stomach graphically exploding. I never knew what the film was until I bought a copy of Chas Balun’s fantastic Deep Red Horror handbook. In it was a review of Contamination, and it sounded great. Aliens, exploding scientists and Ian Mculloch, everything I wanted in a movie; yet it was only recently that I was to have the dubious pleasure of finally experiencing Luigi Cozzi’s opus, only to discover a leaden paced rip-off of Ridley Scott’s Alien that while providing a few cheesily fun moments could send H from Steps to sleep (actually maybe it could have its uses).
A boat arrives in New York harbour. When it is discovered that the crew have all been killed a team of scientists are sent to investigate and discover the boat is full of green painted balloons (sorry eggs), that explode when disturbed. Anyone covered in the resulting green goo promptly detonates in super-slow motion, showering their insides over an impressive distance. A team of top-secret government agents, and an astronaut (played by Ian McCulloch) are sent to investigate, with the trail of suspicion leading to a coffee company in South America. Here the terrible truth is revealed, a conspiracy that involves the international distribution of coffee, and an “alien” that looks like a one-eyed egg timer built by a five year old with very basic papier-mâché skills.
Yes it’s trash, but it does have a lot of things going for it, namely the exuberant gore effects in the first half hour. The score by Argento regulars Goblin is also pretty good, and at least keeps things interesting with their usual pounding synth-rock. The problem is that the second hour is almost entirely constructed of a tedious paper chase as the three protagonists follow clue after clue in order to discover who is responsible for bringing the eggs to earth. This slows the pace of the movie right down and makes it incredibly tedious. If only Cozzi had broken it up with an action scene of two then it might have worked, instead he piles pretty much all of the effects budget (not a huge sum I’m guessing) into the first half hour leaving very little to keep the audience entertained.
Still, fans of terrible dialogue will not be left disappointed as characters utter such fantastic lines as, “whatever killed him, it wasn’t coffee”, and special mention should be made to the cast for treating it all with such a straight face – not an easy task when confronted with the awesome terror of “The Cyclops”. The fact that this is far and away Luigi Cozzi’s best film says a lot about the man who gave us Star Crash and Hercules (starring Lou Ferrigno), and even though the film could never be called good in any way, shape, or form, there is enough silliness and cheesy gore to recommend it to undemanding fans of trashy rip-off Italian cinema.
Aka: Alien Contamination, Alien Arrives on the Earth
Italian director of low budget horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Like many of his countrymen, Cozzi was quick to leap on the back of whatever Hollywood films were currently winning at the box office, hence films 'inspired' by Star Wars (Starcrash), Alien (Contamination), Conan (Hercules) and so on. Directed the 1991 Dario Argento documentary Master of Horror, and has worked on several Argento films over the years, including Two Evil Eyes and The Stendhal Syndrome. The pair also co-own the Rome-based movie shop Profondo Rosso.