Film Review: CONTAMINATION(1980) Green Eggs and Exploding Ham

Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination is a piss poor Italian rip-off of Alien. It is the cinematic equivalent of eating bad scungilli and throwing up in an alleyway at the San Gennero fest in Little Italy. I emptied the contents of my stomach like that once , but a spoiled seafood dish was not the culprit. That honor went to the eight Meister Braus I pounded on the LIRR on the trip in. I am sure I embarrassed myself in front of some cute girls, for good measure. Not easy to put moves on the ladies, when you have puke on your breath and your forehead is slick with zeppoli grease.

I can only wonder if Luigi Cozzi felt similar shame when he unleashed this gory antidote to insomnia onto an excited movie going public in 1980? This is a film that not even Alan Smithee could be proud of. Even he was too smart to keep his name off this turd. I have no problems with the bloody schlockfests, but please don’t bore me. I have my life for that.

I enjoy scary movies, but simply seeing a bunch of Italian names in the opening credits for a horror movie doesn’t give me a dead man’s stiffy. Rabid fans swear their undying allegiance to the Italian Horror Masters. Like owning up to having a hairy ass on a first date, I am ambivalent about Italian Horror. The Lucio Fulci films I have watched seem to only grab my interest in the last five minutes and end abruptly. His movies feel like paying an hour for an expensive escort with a great reputation and you sit in some sleazy motel room and you listen to her drone on like an idiot for fifty-five minutes.  Finally, the weathered skank unbuttons your fly and……

Times up!! Cinematic blue balls. At least Fulci can entertain me for five minutes. Contamination made me wish men in hazmat suits would break down my door and haul me off to a government lab for some sanitizing and re-education.  Anything to not have to finish watching the movie. I would even go bowling with Rosie O’Donnell. And pay for the french fries.

The script for Contamination could have been written by seventh graders who spend half their school day taking remedial English and sniffing airplane glue. When I streamed this flick on the great Fandor service, I wasn’t expecting screenplay quality of David Mamet or Graham Greene. I know what I am getting into when I watch a movie like this. However, the third rate dialogue is pure exposition. Stating the obvious to have the plot lurch forward is on full display here. As I listened to the words spoken by the actors, I felt my rather unsophisticated writing skills begin to die. This script could actually be a danger to any writer out there.

I quickly wondered if poor Akiva Goldsman had watched Contamination shortly before he wrote Batman and Robin? He has an Oscar and I am just an angry drunk with a blog. I get it. I don’t have to explain Batman and Robin on my resume, however. To be fair, Goldsman probably never stripped to his underwear and ran across a high school football field in front of packed stands. The ladies there were lucky I was much thinner when I was seventeen. Akiva is the better man, but I am more fun.

To give some credit to Cozzi, the first ten minutes or so of Contamination are pretty cool. An empty cargo ship floats up the Hudson River and a helicopter follows its course. We get to hear the play by play over the police radio. Nothing spectacular, but I think dialogue coming out over the static of the police band radio is just cool and adds instant production value. Squelch me, baby.

A small search party boards and searches the rusty corridors, iron stairwells and dark rooms filled with all manner of nautical mechanisms. A few gory corpses fall out of a closet or two and the search party, lead by NYPD Detective Tony Aris(Marino Mase’), finds a few green, pulsating eggs. A minute layer, guts are bursting out of chests in slow motion and the audience might be under the impression that they are in for a fun ride.

They would be wrong.

Aris wakes up and finds himself in a delightfully cheesy scientific facility where he has to undergo some industrial strength decontamination. Our randy detective is introduced to Colonel Stella Holmes, played by the attractive Louise Marleau. Detective Aris turns into Larry Dallas from Three’s Company and spends the rest of the flick trying to get under the fair Colonel’s polyester. When he isn’t pressing against the lady with his shirt unbuttoned like Tony Manero, Aris decides to help solve the mystery of the exploding people.

Much to his chagrin, the egghead scientists surmise that these alien spores got to earth from a returning mission to Mars. We are then introduced to Aris’ competition for the Colonel’s affection in Commander Ian Hubbard, starring Italian horror  film veteran, Ian McCulloch. Hubbard was the leader of the ill fated mission and forced to retire. He now spends his days drinking generic liquor and growling cliched lines that would be at home on a daytime soap opera. The three head to South America to solve the mystery that is gripping their world.

As a film, Contamination has more problems than public transportation in a snowstorm. One of it’s primary issues, besides the pedestrian direction, shitty dialogue, lack of female nudity, is that there is nothing inherently scary about a prop egg that makes weird noises and pulsates in the corner like a feminist forced to watch the Hannity show. The makers of this flick should have played this movie for laughs. It would have aged better if it sat in the comedy section instead of the horror room at that mom and pop video store us Generation X denizens wasted our youth in.

As an Alien rip-off, it also has only one scene with any kind of creature. It also isn’t much of a monster. The Teletubbies are scarier than the one-eyed alien that rears it’s rubber head at the end of Contamination. The scene is about as tense as an episode of The Brady Bunch and is almost as funny. I bet Detective Aris would have been all over Carol Brady’s shit. The late Florence Henderson was one of the first MILFS to enter my life, God Bless her. To be honest, your time would be better spent watching four episodes of the classic sitcom detailing the escapades of the Brady clan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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