Released by: Arrow Video
Released on: July, 2015.
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Cast: Ian Mcculloch, Louise Marleau, Marino MasÃ©
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Leave no egg unscrambled.
Calling Luigi Cozzi's ridiculous CONTAMINATION an ALIEN ripoff isn't really fair. ALIEN was a serious film with some varied set pieces. CONTAMINATION has essentially one goopy gag involving huge pulsating green eggs that explode and cause gory death. However, Cozzi - clearly a fan of classic horror/sci-fi like THEM!, while inept in many ways has crafted a pretty entertaining piece of schlock with this one.
An unmanned ship loaded with coffee and looking much like the one that opens Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS has pulled into New York harbor. When the authorities arrive to check things out they discover large green eggs aboard and a bunch of corpses. While trying to investigate what happened, some of the the eggs start to explode and kill the men. A quarantine is quickly set up and two investigators brought in. Colonel Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau) and detective who's got a history with these eggs Tony Aris (Marino MasÃ©) get a lead on an alcoholic astronaut (British thespian Ian McCulloch in a career low) who seems to know something about a mysterious Latin American connection to the eggs. Now everyone needs to head off to the land of Che and try to unravel this enigma wrapped in a bacon skin of a riddle.
CONTAMINATION could have used a trim in the 30 minute range. The entire middle section devolves into some kind of cut rate adventure flick with our gang trying to suss out the whole evil corporate villain angle. It's honestly a snooze and pads things terribly. The acting is pretty laughable too except for Marleau who's a surprisingly strong female character for an Italian genre film from this era. So what HAS CONTAMINATION got going for it?
Gore. When these eggs explode, they send out a plasma like death juice that makes people explode like piÃ±atas overstuffed with pulpy viscera. It's visually arresting and hilariously nasty even though the fx cannot totally pull off the illusion. The film is front and rear loaded with these wacky set pieces so at least we start and close with a bang. Past that, Cozzi delivers an almost museum quality representation of cheesy Italian exploitation from this period. A soundtrack drenched in euro synths from iconic prog rockers THE GOBLIN (that's how their billed - is there another GOBLIN?), plenty of gross out practical effects and a once respectable British actor tossed into the soup for marquee value are all present and accounted for. And while the pacing is problematic, compared to its spiritual kin the turgid ALIEN 2: ON EARTH, CONTAMINATION is a pure joy. Even the South American sojourn at least provides some eye candy for the lover of exotic locales.
Holy crap does CONTAMINATION look dandy here. Arrow have been on a hot streak with their transfers lately and this continues here. The 1.85:1 framed MPEG-4 AVC 1080p encoded transfer looks almost perfect. Every key area is outstanding. Deep black levels, zero digital corrections, excellent fine detail and color grading can be checked off. Just take a look at the patented big ass hi-res RSP! screencaps boys and girls. The eyes do not lie.
Audio is handled by English LPCM 1.0 and Italian LPCM 1.0. tracks. Unlike Blue Underground's precious DVD that retrofitted tinny fake DTS surround tracks to the film, Arrow have provided natural and authentic options. I preferred the English track as, despite the obvious occasional dubbing related misstep, it had better range and especially sound balance. The Italian track sometimes seems "pinched" in the higher frequencies.
The extras are plentiful kicking off with a 23 minute vintage featurette shot in SD with lovable bear Cozzi going over the making of the film. Always a deeply likable guy, the maestro covers all the important aspects like set design and his love of classic Hammer Films sci-fi and how the gore fx was implemented. He's genial and personable. Next up is the far more recent "Luigi Cozzi vs. Lewis Coates" 45 minute mini-documentary which was shot in HD. This is essentially a long primer and one on one interview that tells you everything you want to know about Cozzi. Particularly interesting are Cozzi's comments on his unjustly overlooked Giallo THE KILLER MUST KILL AGAIN and his fx career and Argento work. CONTAMINATION is addressed specifically more recently than the first featurette in a "CONTAMINATION Q&A" from 2014 at a festival screening with Cozzi and actor McCulloch fielding questions from the fans. This is filled with hilarious stories like McCulloch's violent interaction with a dwarf and the flick's questionable financing. And... ANOTHER feature has Temple Of Schlock's Chris Poggalia Maitland McDonagh doing potted mini history of Italian genre ripoff cinema of the 60's, 70's and 80's. This covers a lot of ground and helps explain the realities of funding and just how the Italian industry at that time was able to cash in quickly on fleeting trends from shark movies to alien invasion films and post apocalyptic epics. Essential viewing.
Rounding things off we have GOBLIN keyboardist Maurizio Guarini spending 12 minutes explaining the score and noodling coolly on his synthesizer and a feature length audio commentary with Fangoria's Chris Alexander doing a fine non-rose colored glasses job of analyzing and discussing CONTAMINATION. Alexander loves the movie but isn't blind to its flaws either. The weirdest special feature is an oddly compelling graphic novel presented in HD. Lastly, the film's English language trailer is included.
The Last Word:
CONTAMINATION is far from perfect but it has a rabid fan following and is loads of fun. Arrow's package includes absurdly plentiful quality extras and stellar AV. For anyone even remotely interested in this film this is an essential package.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!