Syngenor (1990)

I think I can see why cult favorite David Gale appeared in so few science fiction films:

After all, they had to build all that extra scenery for him to chew.

In fact, this may be his single most manic performance in a horror film, which is saying quite a bit when you think of his roles in Re-animator, The Brain, and The Guyver.

Now, some of you may remember a somewhat dull but earnest 1980 SF film called Scared to Death, a film William Malone mortgaged his house to make.  Malone’s creature (which he sculpted himself) impressed this film’s producer, Jack F. Murphy, so much that he wanted to make another film using the same monster.  However, the first film was so cheap and little known, he didn’t want to make a sequel, and in fact there is no connection between the two other than the monster, and its name.

Supposedly Malone was given the chance to direct this one but was already working on the higher-budgeted Creature, although I have my doubts as this one came out five years later.  He did help with building the monster suits, although, again, he may not have done much as they were actually made by Doug Beswick.

Syngenor stands for Synthetic Genetic Organism, and the horrible, suspiciously H.R. Giger-esque creatures were (at least in this film) meant to be the ultimate super soldiers: invulnerable, rapidly-reproducing and apparently intelligent enough to use weapons.

Now, if I were designing such a creature, the first thing I’d do is put in an “off” switch.  After all, the last thing you’d want would be an unstoppable army you could not control.

And I definitely would not start releasing uncontrollable monsters to further my schemes to gain control of the corporation that created them.  There is just no way to make that sound like a good idea, no matter how hard you try.

So we have a reporter investigating the trail of carnage  left by the creatures, the usual girl tagging along, and the head of the company going spectacularly crazy.

Need I point out he’s played by David Gale?

Then there’s a beautiful moment when the company security team sets out to attack on the Syngenors loose in the basement — in their silly blue and silver suits that look like they belong to a motorcycle stunt team!

Well, you know that isn’t going to work out too well.

Now the creatures aren’t bad — in fact, some of the versions of it are among the best man-in-a-suit monsters I’ve seen — the effects are well done, as are the copious amounts of blood and gore, and the film itself actually looks quite good.  It all fits together, more or less (although the motives of one character just don’t seem strong enough to explain why she’d do such a nutty thing!) and the performances seem reasonably good.

But the high point of the film is definitely David Gale’s increasingly unhinged performance.  It’s not a bad B-Monster movie on its own, but Gale’s performance carries it to batty new levels of fun.

And, after all, isn’t “fun” the main reason we watch monster movies in the first place?

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The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!

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