Blu-ray Review: Contamination

Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau
Director: Luigi Cozzi

contamination 1Contamination was one of a whole spate of films that appeared in the early ’80s, attempting to cash in on the success of Ridley Scott’s Alien. But here it’s done in inimitable Italian style, with a bizarre plot about eggs from Mars being grown in a Colombian coffee plantation. Inside the eggs: noxious green gloop which only has to touch human flesh to make it explode!

Actually, Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 would seem to the most significant influence on the first part the movie, in which a ghost freighter packed with the eggs drifts into New York harbour, and later on there’s a globe-trotting Dr No vibe as lackadaisical Bronx policeman Tony Aris (Marino Masé), secret service woman Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau) and disgraced astronaut Ian Hubbard (Ian McCulloch) head to exotic locales to track down the source of the deadly infestation. The fate of the world is at stake, but this being an Italian film, the trio take time out to flirt and wonder where to go for dinner. James Bond – at least the Connery version – would surely approve!

Even the movie’s biggest fan would have to admit that the script is back of a pizza box stuff, but there are compensations. The camerawork is good, especially the location cinematography; McCulloch is extremely likeable, even when he has to cut through some dodgy dubbing; and there are some impressively squidgy gore FX, with exploding chest cavities galore. Besides, it’s worth sticking around for the encounter with boss alien, the Cyclops. The … Cyclops? Yes, the Cyclops! Seriously, who needs xenomorphs when you can have a green slush monster with a blinking bicycle light for an eye? 6/10

TRANSFER
A very decent HD transfer, with just a slight granular quality in some of the close-upscontamination 2 but on the whole very clean and sharp. The early sequence aboard the freighter looks crisp and subtle, with silky pools of shadow, while the scene where Tony and Stella are tied up together in a shed has a warm directional light and glowing colours. 7/10

EXTRAS
Old but interesting 22-min doc about Luigi Cozzi, made around the time of Contamination. The picture is 4:3 aspect ratio and slightly fuzzy, but it’s well worth persevering as you get some nice shots of the director in his memorabilia-packed writer’s den. He speaks about the difficulties of making an SF film in Italy and is very honest about the movie’s borrowings. ~ Very nice 41-min Q&A with Cozzi and McCulloch, with good picture and audio. Cozzi goes into detail about the genesis of the film and paints a vivid picture of the Italian film industry. ~ 11-min interview with Goblin keyboardist Maurizio Guarini – he talks about the history of the legendary band and its changing line-up, and describes how they recorded the soundtrack of Contamination in real time while watching it on a Moviola. ~ A 43-min interview with Cozzi in which he talks exhaustively about his early career, starting with publishing a fanzine in his teens. ~ An affectionate, enjoyable 17-min look at Italian films cashing in on Hollywood hits. ~ Audio commentary with Chris Alexander, editor of Fangoria, an enthusiastic advocate who talks knowledgeably about the making of the film. 10/10

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