You know what? Knock-off's have a bad rap. People are always quick to point out how a film steals from another and dismiss it as an unoriginal pile of clap-trap; But then the question arises. What films are truly original to begin with? The Friday the 13th series borrowed liberally from Mario Bava's Bay of Blood, while other genre classics like When a Stranger Calls, and even the iconic Halloween took more than a few cues from Bob Clark's Black Christmas. All of the above mentioned films went on to become some of the most popular and widely recognized classics in all of filmdom. So why is it that Luigi Cozzi's excellent Contamination was written off by audiences outside of Italy as little more than Alien on Earth when in reality, it's an entirely different, and deliriously entertaining gross-out classic in it's own right? Well, Blue Underground has heard our pleas and have brought home the definitive version of this long dormant classic.
A mysterious boat floats crewless into New York harbor. Upon further investigation, the crew is found below decks, hideously mangled, with huge holes in their chests. The investigators, including an NYPD detective (Mase), discover a cargo hold full of small green eggs that look like decaying zucchini's. When one of the eggs explodes and covers two of the investigators with it's spores, the hapless victims writhe about for a few seconds before their chests blow outward, spewing forth more guts and goo than a Gwar concert. When an elite government agent (Marleau) comes on board to take over the investigation for fear of a contagion, she finds that the situation closely mirrors that of an astronaut who had seen similiar creatures on a manned mission to the Martian polar ice caps (ummmm....just ignore that.) The astronaut (McCulloch) was discharged from service when his co-pilot claimed that what he saw was nothing more than the illusions of a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The investigators seek out the fallen hero, and tell him that they believe his story, and that those creatures are now here on Earth, somehow brought back from his mission. When the group follow the trail to a South American coffee plantation, they find that there's more than cocoa beans growing in those fields, and come face to face with the fiends responsible for unleashing the beasties on the rest of the world.
Contamination is a splendid little sci-fi action flick, with loads of fun and goofy dialogue that keeps you laughing even when you're covering your eyes as the grue spills at an alarming rate. While Cozzi didn't have the budget to make this more than a top-knotch B-movie, the special effects are actually quite effective and plentiful. The score by Goblin (here billed as The Goblin) helps to class things up even more.
The DVD from Blue Underground features a flawless widescreen enhanced transfer that is crisp, colorful, and handles the darker segments with nary a hint of artifacting or digital noise. The 5.1 Dolby track is fantastic, but the disc also includes a 6.1 track for people who've upgraded to the new sound standard. I haven't, so I can't report on the quality of that track, but if the 5.1 track is any indication, the 6.1 track will blow minds!!!!
The disc also boasts an impressive array of extra material including a thorough interview with Cozzi , a very cool behind the scenes documentary, a poster and still gallery, and the original theatrical trailer. For those with a DVD ROM, there's also a really cool extra in the guise of the full graphic novel of the film published back in 1980. It's one of those very cool little extras that make Blue Underground releases something to get excited about, and it's no wonder most of the Horrorview staff picked them as DVD Manufacturer of the Year!
Contamination is a very fun, oftentimes scary, and extremely gore-laden visual feast. Screw the Alien comparisons, for they don't go beyond the egg-shaped critters and bursting chests. Watch the film with tongue firmly planted in cheek for maximum entertainment value!!