Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Metamorphosis (1990)

METAMORPHOSIS

Writer: Story by G.L. Eastman

Director: G.L. Eastman

Starring: Gene Le Brock as Peter Houseman

    Catherine Baranov as Sally Donnelly

    Harry Cason as Mike

    David Wicker as Willy

    Stephen Brown as Professor Lloyd

    Jason Arnold as Tommy

QUICK CUT: A scientist's work is threatened by budget cuts, so he does what any normal person would do, pulling a Bruce Banner and rushes the experiments forward on himself.  What could possibly go wrong?

THE MORGUE

    Peter - Your typical scientist who is too driven, too proud of himself, too sure of himself, and it bites him in the eye in the worst way possible.

    Sally - The woman come to evaluate Peter's progress and gasp surprise!  Love interest time!  She's at least smart, but has little to do other than be a love interest and mother.

    Tommy - Sally's kid, who arguably does more in the plot than she does.  But then he also tends to fill the role of 'hapless victim running from things'.  Like mother, like son.

 I never metamorph I didn't like.

I never metamorph I didn't like.

THE GUTS: So I came across this super cool movie, the trailer looks AMAZINGLY cheeseball, that just gets crazier and crazier, with great makeup effects, over the top acting, nonsensical plots...how could I not review it?  Bring on Metamorphosis!!

But first, it looks like our regularly schedule Trisking has been interrupted by the Exposition Games, with a basketball game between teachers and students at some random college.  The whole point of this is for some of the characters to tell us who a Professor Houseman is, how brilliant he is, and how he gets lots of research money because he's so brilliant.  He's just brilliant.  *dreamy sigh*

Got all that?

But things aren't all perfect in Moneyville for Dr. Van Houten.  He gets interrupted during a class and storms into someone's office after finding out that all requests for money will now need to be accompanied by progress reports and proper filings.  Those bastards!  How dare they require accountability?!  And *paperwork*!

He then rushes out to see his friend and rants about the woman coming to hold him accountable for all the money he's spending.  Little does Peter know, she's standing right next to him and Mike.

 Awwwwkward

Awwwwkward

So cue a science montage!  Dr. House pokes away at monkeys until they unceremoniously die on him.  FOR SCIENCE!  Yeah, can't wait to read those reports.

"Killed three monkeys this week, my research proceeds."

But we find out he's lying about that, and he claims he's only been experimenting on cell cultures.  Oh, and he's trying to disable the genetic code that makes cells eventually stop reproducing new cells, which could halt the effects of organ failure and even aging.  So, nothing big.

 I have the heart of a young boy. I keep it in a jar in my lab.

I have the heart of a young boy. I keep it in a jar in my lab.

So wait, he says that a species like one he could create, one that wouldn't age, wouldn't die, wouldn't be injured for long...such a species would eventually take over, and consume all the resources to the point that this evolved form of humanity would wipe itself out.  He just laid out exactly why this is s terrible idea...and plows forward...FOR SCIENCE!

Which all leads the university to decide to suspend Peter's research until they can poke into all his work and try and verify his findings.  He threatens to leave, but since his experiments are so out there, they kinda have him over a barrel of monkeys.

And so Peter decides, in good scifi doctorly tradition, to try and experiment out on himself...FOR SCIENCE!

Just a brief aside...I do not understand WHY this serum has to be injected THROUGH THE EYE.  At least, for no other reason than to make me go, GYAAAH.

 Don't take away his funding. You wouldn't like him without his funding.

Don't take away his funding. You wouldn't like him without his funding.

Surprisingly, the procedure completes itself and manages to not lobotomise Pete.  Although, that may have been an improvement since he thought of doing this in the first place.

The first thing he does after jamming needles into his face, is lay back and discover he can hear one of his test rabbits breathing.  THE MIRACLE OF SCIENCE!  Now people everywhere will be able to hear rabbits sniff!

He shows up on Sally's doorstep to tell him the serum is a success, and he tried it on himself.  Rather than say anything about reckless science, human trials, or USING IT ON HIMSELF, she just smiles and says yay!

Sally invites him in to meet her kid and the babysitter, both of whom are likely to be future casualties of Peter's recklessness.

Speaking of, she notices his hand is injured, but he doesn't know how it got that way.  I mean, it's not like it could be a side effect of UNREGULATED GENETIC MANIPULATION.

 And that's when the claws pop out.

And that's when the claws pop out.

And cue the post first aid sex!  Which, considering she just told us how she got pregnant by a guy she didn't know was married, I'm surprised the plot doesn't have Pete passing on his new genetic structure.

Pete gets called to the lab and he finds one of the heads of the college poking around.  And Pete trips the poor guy on his crutches.  So, Peter is a dick.  Gotcha.

He then sees a cloth covered in dried blood, and no one knows where it came from.  But Pete has flashbacks to meeting some random woman in some random hotel for some random murdersex.  I dunno, do I count that?

 Stay right there, monkey! Gonna jab needles in YOUR eyes next!

Stay right there, monkey! Gonna jab needles in YOUR eyes next!

Stay right there, monkey! Gonna jab needles in YOUR eyes next!

Pete takes his new girlfriend and her kid to the zoo, and the animals all starts spazzing out in fear.  Behold!  Science hath bequeathed unto this man the ability to freak animals right the hell out!!

Which causes ANOTHER motel death sex flashback.  Was...was that the same woman?  A different one?  Is he Jekyll and Hyding on us?

The plot thinnens when he's checking out of the lab, and the security guard asks if he'll be back like the other night, but Peter doesn't remember that!  It also explains the bloody handkerchief, loaned by the guard for Pete's hand.  So, cue a road trip to the hotel he keeps seeing in flashbacks!

He stops at the bar nearby, and just as the place is closing.  The few guys cleaning up the place stare at him uncomfortably, until a woman walks out.  Oh, so I guess she ISN'T dead.  She's in amazing shape for all the blood we saw.

They all jump him and beat on him for awhile, until Peter hulks out and punches one in the face repeatedly, and then strangles him.  Which then makes us jump to the next day.  I...I guess they just let him go, then?

 Uhhh, see you tomorrow night?

Uhhh, see you tomorrow night?

Really?  No one else tries?  There's still four of them left.  Not even calling the cops?  Reporting him?  ANYthing??

Back at the college, the dude he tripped wants Pete to be punished, at least, but no one else wants to go against him.  Despite the guy on crutches knowing he's up to something.

Which leads to a number of scenes of people trying to get ahold of Pete, and talking about how he's just holed up in his house.  Well, if you want to raid his lab and find his notes, NOW might be the time, guys!

 I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...

After a week, Peter finally crawls out of the woodwork and appears in the back of his assistant's car.  At least the ringing Pete's phone montage only lasted five minutes...

Pete isn't looking too good, and he fesses up to Willy about what he did.  As he sits there shaking and looking a little bumpier than normal, he actually has the stones to say he doesn't know what's happening to him.

You took.  An experimental.  Serum.  I thought he was supposed to be brilliant?  I ain't seein' it, folks.

And to top off the brilliance, Pete wants to recreate the experiment to try and track the error.  Yes, he wants to inject himself AGAIN.  I could argue that it doesn't make much sense if the damage is done, but we're in the dodgy realm of movie science, so...

 You wouldn't like me when I'm feverish.

You wouldn't like me when I'm feverish.

I mean, he wants to analyze and compare the blood and DNA samples, but aren't they already corrupted and different?  NO no, I am not getting into this.

And cue yet more scenes of doing science!

But during the one moment when Willy isn't paying attention, Pete manages to escape, despite being tied down.  Because plot reasons.

He shows up at the place the blonde student who's been flirting with him all movie long lives.  And she's not so happy to see that he's finally shown up at her door.  Your looks start to fade, and no one wants you anymore.

So he helps her calm down, but while she's washing her face, he gets a little glassy eyed and bumpyfaced, then strangles her and such.

 Not the BEST paintbrush to use, but natural hair is always good.

Not the BEST paintbrush to use, but natural hair is always good.

Pete leaves the scene of the crime and is spotted by some cops that decide to chase him like he was black.  Seriously, they don't really have a reason to go after him.  Did someone call them?  They just see a guy out for a jog and say, "Hey, how about that one?  We can catch up with him!"

They chase him around a parking garage and actually manage to run him over.  I don't think that's quite what they meant by catching.

Pete gets rushed to the hospital, and it cracks me up that they say he was hit by a cruiser, but it didn't hurt him.  So...why is he in the hospital, then?  I mean, that's where we go when we're hurt, usually.

While the doctors run every test they can on Dr. Howard Hesseman, Sally sneaks in to see him, and sees he has aged a bit since she last saw him.

 Susan, is that you? Have the Daleks come for me?

Susan, is that you? Have the Daleks come for me?

The couple kiss and...SOMEthing happens.  There's some noises, she wriggles, and she looks a little bloody as she runs away, but the video is so crap, it's hard to get a good look at anything.  Hefner didn't bite the girl, he just sat there, so it was like some kinda Rogue thing, if anything, and I dunno.  Maybe if he looked different when Mike came in to check, it would be clear, but nope!

We sit around as doctors perform more tests and leg braces dude pokes around Pete's research.  Mike actually puts things together first when he realises Pete's not aging or dying, but transforming.  Professor Exposition goes one step further by hobbling in to tell us that Pete was mucking about with modified DNA that didn't just halt aging, but unlocked some ancient code deep within our own DNA, and blah blah blah, it's not good.

Either way, it's transforming him into *ahem* what we were before.  Well, that should be interesting.  The same thing did NOT work out well for that Lazarus guy on Doctor Who.  But it also didn't work out well for a bunch of people in his way, either.

Professor Lloyd goes to visit Doctor Hiesman trophy and taunts him with continuing his research, and wants Pete to just die already so he can be dissected.  Well, look!  That got him going again!  Pete sits up, not looking too great, and eats off Lloyd's face or something, to continue his METAMORPHOSIS.

 Call me...Dorkman.

Call me...Dorkman.

Afterwards, Pete tries to hobble away on Lloyd's crutches, and you thought Michael Meyers walked slowly!  On his way out, he runs into Willy, who sold him out to Lloyd to keep his career.  And that's all the motivation Pete needs to eat his throat as well.  I guess you CAN push Willy around and Willy WILL go.

On the upside, the blood...transfution (??) lets him continue on his way without the crutches, so at least Peter and the movie can pick up speed now.  ...Right?

Side note: Metamorphosis is randomly a Christmas movie for no reason whatsoever!

After scaring a Santa, Pete heads to Sally's house, and thankfully he lost the crutches, or it would've taken him 'til New Years to walk there.  Once he arrives, Mike calls to warn Sally, but she lets him know that their mushy mutant mutual friend is already there.

 I'm your boyfriend now, Sally!

I'm your boyfriend now, Sally!

Sally actually starts to give him the last bottle of serum in existence, but she freaks out when she sees Pete's hands.  I guess there's too much web fluid stuck to them.  But he attacks her, until he sees himself in the overly convenient mirror, letting Sally escape.

When she turns on the lights, Sally sees she's not alone, and finds the babysitter is there, and miraculously alive even though she's clearly been attacked.  Looks like she's missing an eyeball though, so I guess Pete just needed a snack to tide him over.

Speaking of, he's driven off with the babysitter's car and Sally's kid still snoring in the back seat.  Pete must be saving his dessert for later.

 Didn't see that coming.

Didn't see that coming.

Kid, if you didn't like your potential stepdad before, you are gonna HATE him now!  He is a total monster!

The movie gives us its idea of a car chase as everyone drives around frantically and ends up at the university.  I think.  It's awfully dark and murky.  But I saw the front gate, and that dead guard Sally found looked familiar.

We end up spending WAY too much time watching Tommy run around the dark hallways with his mom shouting his name, in my oh so loahted of horror movie tropes.

The kid finally does something so stupid that Peter has to notice him, but that only leads to more running.  At least now it's a chase instead of just aimless meandering to find a way out, but that's still not much improvement.

 Something bad happened here...

Something bad happened here...

Some security guard looks up from his paper when he hears the commotion and comes running.  Because we can't kill a *kid* in the final few minutes of the movie, I guess.  And his mom is *supposed* to be our heroine?  But either way, we need someone else to finish off.

And you're our lucky winner, security guard canon fodder #3!

Sally leaps out of the shadows and grabs her kid.  The pair hide and she keeps him quiet, knowing that the guard will take the hit.

With a whopping five whole minutes left to the movie's runtime, it's back to the lab to make an escape, and Sally falls into Mike's arms and the waiting cops.

 NoooOOOOOO the Repligators are back!! RuuuuUUUNNNN!

NoooOOOOOO the Repligators are back!! RuuuuUUUNNNN!

Pete busts down the door, and apparently has evolved into freakin' dinosaur Jesus, because A) he's a dinosaur now apparently.  So that happened.  Also, he's backlit like the sun is shooting out his ass so B) Jesus.

Naturally, the cops open fire to ask questions later, and I can't say I blame them.  But no!  One of the other professors says to hold their fire.  Because stopping the rampaging killbeast isn't a priority for him, I guess.

And when he gets asked what the hell that was, Lloyd says it was a "nightmare...FROM THE PAST".  No, pal.  My nightmare is pretty damned current.

They find some melted remains that they barely show us, but Sally rambles about how Peter said his experiment was successful and how he'll never die.

And so, Sally and Tommy drive off into the sunset to get away from all this, and everyone lives happily ever after, except for all the security guards that died.

That's when she notices her son's new pet and tells him to let it go, but Tommy says he won't hurt his pet, he can't, he won't ever die...

Yes, the movie implies that Peter has evolved into a tiny lizard, and ends with a "He looked at me/I looked at him/he looked at me!" moment between Sally and the lizard.

 Behold! The ultimate evolution of man! ...Wait what??

Behold! The ultimate evolution of man! ...Wait what??

So remember kids, take this movie as a warning.  If you are ever trying to find a way to stave off death, or to come back from a limbo state of being dead, do not try genetic manipulation by needles through the eyes, it does not end well!

And hey, wait.  Where was all the cool stuff in the trailer??  Where was the awesome crazy claymation monster?!  The strange effects??  The bad acting and weird plot...oh wait, okay, we DID get those.

Whoa.  Whoa.  Hold up.  There are TWO movies called Metamorphosis?  BOTH from the same year, 1990?!  AND BOTH ABOUT SCIENTISTS BEING STRANGELY MUTATED BY THEIR OWN RESEARCH?!  How in the name of all that is Corman DOES THIS HAPPEN??  And I reviewed the BAD one??  Sonuva...

AUTOPSY REPORT

Video: Aaiiieee.  I thought I lucked out having Metamorphosis already in one of my 50 packs.  But not only was it the WRONG DAMNED ONE, but the video is garbage because 50 packs.

Audio: Which kinda gives you a hint of what to expect from the audio, but it was at least audible enough for all the plotty talking this movie wanted to do.

Body Count: Ahh, after the non-event of Repligator, it's nice to have a mutated lizard man actually doing stuff!

1 - A poor monkey dies early on, but what do you expect when you poke it's brain with needles?
2 - After a fake out or two, our first real people death drops at the bar, 45 minutes in, when Peter strangles a guy
3 - Theresa gets strangled and bashed against the wall.
4 - Professor Lloyd becomes a snack for Pete.
5 - Willy winds up with the same fate when he steps out of the elevator and finds his friend.
6 - I'm gonna assume the babysitter eventually dies, because she was in bad shape.
7 - A security guard ends up dead as well at the front gate.
8 - One more security guard meets a grisly fate.
9 - And another goes to investigate and finds the blood splatter of his friends.

Best Corpse: I'm gonna go with Willy, because you can't go wrong with a good facectomy.

Blood Type - C-: Man, this is a tough call.  There's some decent moments of blood and gore, but the effects are so murky, it's hard to see them worth a damn.  Pete's sickness is ineffectively shown, and wel...dinosuar suit.  But it also doesn't shy away from the blood, so there's that.

Sex Appeal: Have fun with some awkward sex, but at least there's boob!

Drink Up! Pour one out for every poor security guard that doesn't live.

Movie Review: I'm being generous here, but it's certainly not terrible.  There's plot, there's motivation, and it moves along well.  It does get a bit talky and the science and motivations can be highly dodgy, but as has been shown, it could be worse.  Ultimately, the blandness of the entire affair is what drags down what could've been an okay story.  Two out of five Dinojesuses

Entertainment Value: If you love thinly veiled Hulk jokes, and can sit through a lotta setup and science, there's certainly a good time to be had here.  I rarely felt insulted, and the acting is just cheap enough to be entertaining.  The movie eventually just fails to ever be anything special, but it's at least worth a look.  Three out of five stabbed eyeballs.