Proteus (1995)

This is basically the cheap Nineties direct to video version of John Carpenter’s The Thing.

Well, one of them.

It starts a little differently, at least:  a group of losers trying to carry off a heroin deal accidentally blow up their own boat and end up stranded on a deep sea oil platform.  Only it’s a fake, there’s a secret lab onboard, where, naturally, there have been the usual unspeakable scientific experiments going on — and, equally naturally, there’s a shape-shifting monster on the loose.

I hate it when that happens.

But, y’know, I kinda like this thing.  The creature effects are reasonably good — familiar, if not terribly convincing — and there’s a bizarre shark monster making an appearance at the end.

Not that Stan Winston wouldn’t have made the same basic design epic and memorable.  But hey, he would have cost them a lot more!

Moreover, the film is reasonably tense, and while they spend a lot of time chasing around though the same corridors in this place, it does at least have a few new locations. That’s better than most of these films.

About the only name you’ll recognize is Doug “Pinhead” Bradley, but you probably won’t recognize him as he’s buried under so much old man makeup.

The oddest part, however, is the opening sequence:  it plays out like a flashback but clearly isn’t (as that isn’t how the film ends) and it would appear, from the scene that follows, that it instead explains how one character’s hand came to be slightly “edited.”  As it uses the typical film language we associate with flashbacks, with the character telling his story while a tape recorder runs, it is absurdly confusing and probably should have been edited out.  I have a horrible suspicion it may have been a bit of a post-modern joke on the part of the director.  If so, then it is one that just didn’t work.

As I said, I kinda liked this one:  it moves fast and has a few surprises up its sleeve.  Not many, but more that we expect from this sort of film.  The drug deal background is interesting, and the scene where they are faced with the monumental pilings of the rig, with no easy way up are a nice touch.  As is one curious quirk of the creature, which explains why it is trying so hard to get them.

So it isn’t brilliant, but it is a nice time waster, a midnight movie suitable for mocking.  If it sounds like your sort of thing you may actually enjoy it.

In a bad, Nineties, direct to video John Carpenter copy sort of way.

 

 

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