SUB-GENRES: Horror / Thriller
DIRECTED BY: Luigi Cozzi
WRITTEN BY: Luigi Cozzi & Erich Tomek
PEW PEW: Mostly suspense-oriented. Very little action.
CAT FOOD: If anyone attacks us through coffee, we’re fucked.
Two major events happened in the late seventies that changed science fiction film forever. The first was Star Wars in 1977, which took fantasy and swashbuckling action and integrated them into gripping space opera. Many, many films subsequently attempted to cash in on this formula. Others, however, were merely inspired by the considerable boom that occurred as a result. The second event was a product of this sci-fi boom, 1979’s Alien, which brought horror film to the stars in such an isolating way that had never quite been done before. And many clones followed that one too.
Enter Italian director Luigi Cozzi (a.k.a. Lewis Coates) who, inspired by Star Wars, had directed his first feature film Starcrash. That film had taken the Star Wars formula and applied it to a Barbarella-style pulp exploitation sci-fi story. More on Starcrash in the future, methinks. With that one safely tucked away in the annals of knock-off film history, Cozzi set his sights on creating something inspired by the second great event in seventies sci-fi history.
Thus, Contamination (also released as Alien Contamination and Toxic Spawn) was born.
Unlike most of the films that attempted to cash in on Alien’s success, Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination isn’t merely a clone. While I’m not the biggest fan of Italian horror (most are unable to grasp the concept ‘fun,’ and I detest the ‘record silent, dub later’ method they employ), there are several that I will admit are fairly decent. Contamination is no knock-off, it’s most definitely its own thing, and it’s not too shabby either.
When a freighter is spotted heading toward New York, the police investigate, only to find the ship abandoned. Further inspection reveals a mass of mangled corpses and a huge shipment of coffee. As the investigators search and find a box of coffee that had fallen over, they discover that the boxes all contain green, football-sized eggs. Another egg is lying beneath some heated pipes, has grown almost three times the size of the others, and is glowing and pulsating.
Then it blows.
Once exposed to the green goo that has been spooged out at them from the egg, both dudes’ guts explode out their fucking chests. While these epically awesome gut explosion scenes earned the film a reputation as a ‘video nasty,’ I didn’t find them to be too unsettling and I’m normally quite sensitive to that kind of thing. I rather think that there should have been more of it. The gut explosions are by all means the highlights of Contamination and I can’t really imagine the movie without them.
Our protagonists, a police detective and a military officer, team up with a former astronaut (who’d been branded crazy after observing the green eggs on a failed mission to Mars) on a mission which takes them to South America to uncover a sinister alien plot to destroy the world through the use of alien gut busters.
While not the most eventful and action-packed film ever made, Contamination is at least unique. Often, there isn’t much going on as the trio investigate, but when there is suspense, it is quite well implemented. Aside from the neat egg design and the serviceable final alien monster, the film’s biggest strength is its excellent sound.
I absolutely adore Goblin and the vast majority of their soundtrack work, so I’m naturally very pleased at what they did with the score on this picture. The score is their signature brand of synth prog funky, with considerable helpings of sharp and suspenseful strains. The repetitive drone that plays when an egg is reaching maturity is incredibly creepy and really does sell the horror of what’s about to happen. That sound should be held right up there with the most classic sounds in the sci-fi genre.
I do really wish the creature at the end of the film was cooler — it is a tad underwhelming. But the ultimate demise of the villain is very satisfying, and the very last scene is really cool.
While it could have been a tad more suspenseful and a great deal more exciting, Contamination is still a highly enjoyable sci-fi horror / thriller with mystery elements.