Director: Luigi Cozzi (as Lewis Coates)
Screenplay: Luigi Cozzi
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Mase, Siegfried Ranch
Running Time: 95 min
Year: 1980 / 2015
BBFC Certificate: 15
This film is awesome retro sci-fi horror at its best. Well-acted, heavy on the cheese and with a great pumping synth-rock soundtrack courtesy of the one and only Goblin.
The adventure begins with a radio notification from a surveillance helicopter to the authorities that a crew-less cargo ship is heading for port. A bizarre smell prompts a cautious approach, and soon a couple of doctors / scientists and a Police Leuitenant, Tony Aras, are boarding the ship, donning white boiler suits and gasmasks as they head into the unknown.
Suspense builds as at first they find nothing, but then the ship’s Captain falls from a doorway, covered in blood and gore. ‘It’s as if some force inside his chest just let loose!’, offers one doctor as diagnosis of what could have caused this extreme death. The remaining crew are found in a similar state and the ship’s cargo of boxes and boxes of coffee proves not to be as it seems when one upturned box reveals half a dozen large egg like objects! One of them which has rolled out under a heating pipe appears to be glowing as if activated. It suddenly bursts, causing both doctors to explode from the chest in blood-drenched agony. The special effects are great for the time and superbly over the top. Some great synth work is applied to enhance their gruesome demise.
Back at a Government science facility it’s another matter altogether, production wise, as the banks of blinking computers look so fake/cardboard it’s unbelievable. Perhaps all of the budget went on blood packs and make-up! Colonel Stella Holmes arrives to interview Tony, the only one to survive the ship investigation, and from here a bizarre plot begins to unfurl; of eggs brought back from a mission to Mars by a deranged astronaut hellbent on mankinds destruction because his mind has been altered by a Martian cyclops monster!!
This really is the kind of movie where, armed with a bowl of crisps and a couple of beers and viewing alone, you’ll find yourself really quite enjoying the combined greatness and ludicrousness of the whole thing. It really is good.
After an encounter at a warehouse with a brainwashed gang who have been instructed to receive the eggs from a coffee plantation in Columbia, Tony and Stella head out on a Government backed mission to investigate, together with Hubbard. Hubbard is an astronaut who came back from a mission to Mars rambling about monsters and eggs, and was subsequently discredited as having succumbed to the effects of space and lost his mind. By comparison, the much more plausible and level-headed nothing-to-report version of events from co-astronaut, Hamilton, was taken as gospel. This is of course now brought into question.
One interesting aside – there is a sequence where Hubbard is accused by Stella of being less than a man and a wimp because of his initially fragile state when they meet, and reluctance to join in the mission (he’s had years of bad press and mockery about his Mars revelations). When Hubbard, gives her a backhander, James Bond-like across the face, she almost seems to enjoy being put in her place and is suddenly all cheery and hungry for the mission. Aroused by his machismo perhaps, in an era where this sort of testosterone aggression towards women was still tolerated.
The coffee plantation turns out to be a cover-up for an egg plantation, where eggs are harvested and shipped everywhere. Astronaut Hamilton, believed dead following a recent plane crash, and therefore not available for a new line of enquiry regarding what really happened on Mars, turns out to be alive and well, and together with a glamourous female assistant, heads up this diabolical operation for his Martian higher power.
Upon finally facing this Martian monster, The Cyclops, Tony nonchalantly strolls over in a bit of a sweat and walks right into the monsters mouth, his mind totally under the control of the beast. Colonel Stella is up next, but as the hard-rocking main theme of the film starts up again, Hubbard, with stolen gun and boiler-suit disguise comes to her aid, shooting the Cyclops’ eye and leaving both it and Hamilton to start smoking and bubbling before catching fire – a slowed down effect of Hamilton’s chest exploding proves to be a bad idea as you actually see the inflatable balloon break free from his shirt a second before it explodes. Ace!
‘The real Hamilton never returned to Earth’, Stella concludes. In the final shot of the film, in a busy U.S. city street, an egg lying near some bin-bags starts to glow…and explodes!
Yes it’s all very cheesy and retro, but if you’re a fan of Italian sci-fi and horror I’d recommend shelling out for this great movie.
This great blu-ray edition is also packed with extras:
- Luigi Cozzi on Contamination – an archive documantery with scenes from the film (Italian with subtitles)
- Contamination Q&A – Q&A with Cozzi and Ian mcculloch (Hubbard), filmed at the Abertior horror festival, Aberystwith, 2014
- Sound of the cyclops – Goblin keyboard player talks about the films score, and generally on making music for Italian terror
- Luigi Cozzi vs lewis Coates – new documentary discussing career (Italian with subtitles)
- Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – critical analysis on Italian genre movies which sought to cash in on popular Hollywood blockbusters
- Original theatrical trailer
- Graphic novel – excellent, simply drawn but follows the plot exactly.
- Audio commentary with Chris Alexander
The blu ray film itself, considering not the biggest budget movie, the transfer is pretty clear, a little grainy in places but a decent job overall. The required atmosphere is captured perfectly.