directed by Luigi Cozzi

starring Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Masé

Arrow Films

While Italy is know for its early westerns, a few sci-fi pieces were shot over there despite the Italian public’s almost compete disinterest in the genre. Here director Luigi Cozzi takes Ridley Scotts’ Alien and redoes it with more style than substance. The plot wanders and it’s difficult to say who we should be cheering for. In the directors commentary Cozzi gleefully explains how he took bits and pieces from Them and The Day the Earth Stood Still and a half-dozen other films to make this gore filled epic. The plot is straight forward: a ghost ship drifts into New York harbor filled with coffee, dead crew men and pods that infect and dissolve whatever they touch. Col. Stella Holmes (Louise Marluea) investigates, and we soon learn the deaths occur when the pod virus causes your stomach to explode in a shower of guts and gore. Heck, it even blew up a hapless lab mouse. Soon Ian Hubbard (Ian McCulloch) is called in and we are off to destroy all monsters in some pretty cool matte effect worlds.

Good gore, slow plot, but the highlight of this release is the commentary track by Chris Alexander (current editor of Fangoria and a few other film mags). Alexander does a good job filling in the back story of the actors but inside he’s torn: does this movie suck or is it brilliant? He waffles, and while I lean toward the suck argument he makes many a good point as to why this is an effective and innovative project only to counter himself a few moments later as he points out gross plot deficiencies and bad acting. It’s a debate I often have with many old films: you just want to fast forward though the exposition and get to the explosions and monster reveal. The reveal here is held to the end Japanese style, and the master monster quite frankly looks like a Gumby with overwrought eyeballs. The excuse is “the mechanics failed,” but down deep I’ll admit it: most movie monsters are a bit ridiculous once you take them out of the darkened movie theater and impressionable teen viewer years. I enjoyed the film but am unlikely to watch it again. Flying guts aren’t my thing and the rest of the show isn’t campy enough to hook me and when the special features are the highlights, well, that says something important. Your mileage may vary, as will the amount of guts you get on the inside of the old view screen.

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