Contamination (1980)


Overall Rating:

Nastiness Rating:

Directed by: Luigi Cozzi
Written by: Luigi Cozzi/Erich Tomek

(Bonus points to anyone who read the title to the tune of a Carly Simon song. More bonus points to anyone who remembers who Carly Simon is.)

In the early 80s, everyone wanted to make a movie like Alien. Even the sci-fi deficient Italians wanted to do it. Who better to make their version than a sci-fi obsessed director?

His film (original title: Alien Arrives On Earth) is certainly a low-budget flick, but it has the ominous presence of Ridley Scott’s horror/sci-fi masterpiece.

That, of course, doesn’t make it a great film. It only makes it one of the more watchable of the Video Nasties.

An abandoned ship floats its way up to the New York harbor. The entire crew has disappeared…or were they killed? The answer comes pretty quickly when a cop and a doctor bring a team on board to figure things out. It turns out that the entire crew was killed by a bunch of creepy looking eggs that they picked up somewhere on their journey. One of the cops makes the mistake of picking one up. It explodes and makes everyone but the first cop explode.

So, this is a Nasty. That means that the men don’t just explode and POP, they’re gone. No, they explode from the guts out in slow motion…three times. Basically, the film crew attached a second stomach on these guys, filled them with cow and pig guts and then attached a high-pressure air hose to the whole contraption. When it was time to pop, they turned on the hose. You can see the air blowing the guts out of the bag.

I have no problem with this.

Oh yeah. This also has something to do with coffee. Or at least, coffee cans from South America.

Eventually, they find out that the people who were importing these things were planning on putting them in the sewers. How did they figure this out? No fucking clue. The female colonel just said it and everyone took it for true.

Their investigation leads to a warehouse full of the eggs. They explode some guys, burn the eggs and, eventually, that leads them to the two men who went to Mars and went a little…funny…in the head.

One of the astronauts, of course, is dead. The other (played by Zombie star, Itan McCulloch) is only half insane and they get him to go with them to South America where they can find out where more of the eggs might be…or something. Italians aren’t known for their logic, so they could just be going there for a quick vacation.

Of course, guess who is behind the whole thing. YUP. The dead astronaut! And his Master Creature is almost ridiculously disgusting, with it’s Audrey II-esque tentacles and weird, down-turned mouths.

Whatever. The “intrigue” isn’t particularly intriguing. All we really care about is the gore. And, if there’s one thing that the Italians never skimp on, it’s gore. No one just dies in this movie. They explode in a  slo-mo ballet of disgusting, pustule death. They blow up just a bit and then their guts do their best to get to the outside as quickly as possible.

Not a terrible film, as Nasties go. It’s at least watchable and it has a decent enough story. I just wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t a gore hound, trying to tell them, “No, really! It’ll really make you think about this whole ‘Mars’ thing!”

No, it won’t. It will just make you not ever want to explode. It will also make you not want to bring the aliens from Alien to Earth.

While I would never say he was a great director, I do respect Cozzi for making a film like this when everyone in Italy was against him. Sci-fi has never done well over there, but he wanted nothing more than to make sci-fi films. (He grew up on movies like Them and The Thing From Another World.) The producers of Contamination wanted a James Bond type movie. You can see some of this in the film, but Cozzi took a lot of it out.

Ten years or so later, he actually quit making films when he realized that he wouldn’t be able to make his kind of movie anymore. He now (at least, when this DVD was released) owns a sci-fi store with Dario Argento.
Man, I want to go there.

One super-weird thing about him: he doesn’t understand why the film got an R rating in America. Yep. Exploding people is family entertainment.

The colonel gets trapped in her bathroom with an egg and starts screaming…’cause, you know…there’s no way that she would EVER survive if that thing exploded while she was in the shower…with the curtain drawn…completely protecting her from any of the juice that it spits at her…ten feet away from where the egg is currently sitting.

Of course, it does allow her to utter the most ridiculous line of the entire movie: “Let me out of here! There’s an egg!!”

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