Imagine. An Eighties creature feature with not one, but two mad scientists!
And not just two mad scientists, but two complete secret laboratories full of gruesome violations of the natural order!
And one of them is played by…Rod Steiger.
Okay. I’m not making this up. Nor am I making up the fact that the other was played by Kim Hunter, best remembered by SF fans as Zira in The Planet of the Apes. This was the Eighties, after all, and strange things like this happened all the time.
But we do get that staple of Eighties horror, the group of young friends who go off to that creepy house full of sinister secrets for a fun getaway.
Okay, it’s supposed to be sort of a working vacation, as they’re supposed to be going through the papers and experiments left behind by John Hollins’ scientist mother.
John is played by David Allen Brooks in one of his few leading roles (or was it his only one?). He was one of those woefully underused actors who deserved more attention than he ever got (and one of the standouts in the exceptional cast of J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon Five: Crusade)
It pretty much plays out the way you’d expect: the horrible, man-made hybrid creature attacks the cast one by one; some live, some die; someone tries to keep it secret to cash in on it (with the usual results); they try various things to stop it; and there’s even an explosive finale and a “it’s not quite dead” moment — even if they aren’t quite in the right order.
Amanda Pays, who played Theora Jones in the British and American versions of Max Headroom, shows up as a young scientist who admired John’s mother — but proves to be decidedly fishy.
At any rate, the creatures are icky and reasonably well done; the watermelons are deadly; and while it is all more or less familiar, it is done with a certain flair, plenty of gore, even more slime, and just a touch of humor.
It is an entertaining, if somewhat minor film, but it is guaranteed to be the highlight of any night of midnight movies you and your friends put together.
…After all, where else can you see Rod Steiger fighting a tentacle monster?
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