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.

Contamination (1980)

CONTAMINATION

WRITERS: Screenplay by Lewis Coates and Erich Tomek
    Based on an original story by Lewis Coates

DIRECTOR: Lewis Coates

STARRING: Ian McCulloch as Cmdr. Ian Hubbard
    Louise Marleau as Col. Stella Holmes
    Marino Mase as NYPD Lt. Tony Aris
    Siegfried Rauch as Hamilton

QUICK CUT: A tainted shipment of coffee arrives in New York City's harbour, and a small trio investigate what's wrong with the beans.

THE MORGUE

    Tony - A New York cop who gets pulled into the investigation when a lot of people die on his beat, and sticks around for the rest of the movie.  He's a bit of a chauvinist, but seems like a good sort, and a product of his times and upbringing.

    Stella - The scientist who leads the charge after everyone around Tony dies.  She's smart, and determined, and most importantly, she admits when she's wrong.

    Hubbard - A disgraced astronaut, one of the first men on Mars, and when he was there he saw something.  No one believed him though, and he lost pretty much everything.

    Hamilton - Hubbard's fellow astronaut, was also on the trip, and he didn't see anything.  Maybe because he died.

 Yeah Grant, we have a huge opening title pile up running down Fifth Avenue!

Yeah Grant, we have a huge opening title pile up running down Fifth Avenue!

THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions!  An almost untapped venue of Trisk in all these years, is Italian horror.  I've done a Giallo here and there, and another movie or two along the way, but I've never quite bothered with it.  Especially the Italian horror knock-offs, which is fertile ground for lovingly mocking.

Italy (and other European countries but it seems like Italy was the most prevalent) was able to crank out movies at an incredible pace, for very little money, and capitalise on big names and amazing marketing to actually make money back.  All they had to do was make a movie vaguely similar to say, Alien, and slap a title on it like Alien Contamination.  Or just make a sequel that's not a sequel and call it Zombie, but I digress on that one...

All that brings me around to this week's movie, Alien Contamination, or as its more commonly, and probably less copyright infringingly known as, just Contamination.

We open right up on a choppah checking out a ship coming into New York City that is coming in fast, and not responding to any radio calls.  All appearances are that there is no one on board, the lifeboats are all there, and the ship is drifting on its own.  It's the Roanoke of the Seas, folks.  So they call in a tug to get it safely into harbour, and put the ship in quarantine until they figure out what's going on.

The doctors and a cop get suited up and venture onto the seemingly abandoned ship to see what they can see.

 Here we come, walking down the street, everybody runs from us, because we're looking for dangerous biological weapons...Hey Hey we're the Bunnies.

Here we come, walking down the street, everybody runs from us, because we're looking for dangerous biological weapons...Hey Hey we're the Bunnies.

Eventually they find the captain...'s dead body as it falls out of a closet.  He's torn apart, a bloody mess, and only deepens the mystery.

They find more bodies, and after a cheap jump scare, one of the scientists comes rushing up to say he's found some great green globs of greasy, grimy gopher guts.  They find the hold, filled with the ship's cargo of coffee.  But suddenly someone shouts out, "Hey!  That's not coffee!" and it ends up being the biggest understatement ever.

What they find is a box filled with giant green eggs, and I guess someone DID want to try green eggs and ham on a boat.  It remains unclear at this time if he would not could not with a goat.  And yes, they do rather resemble some other famous horror movie eggs.

 Very much not coffee.  But I am willing to grind them up and brew them anyways.  For science.

Very much not coffee.  But I am willing to grind them up and brew them anyways.  For science.

They notice one of the eggs from the fallen box rolled over to some nice warm pipes, and has embiggened and ripened.  It's also pulsing and honking, which is all universal signs to me for get away.

One of the scientists picks up the egg, and it promptly explodes in goo all over most of the people there, and exploding them like the crew.  Coffee does not explode when sunlight hits it!!

The only survivor is Lieutenant Aris, and they slam him into decontamination and quarantine until it can be determined if he's safe or not.

Aris recaps what we've already seen for Colonel Stella, and she sends out a team to freeze the entire ship's hold, hopefully neutralising the threat for now.   Mmm, iced coffee.

 We are the knights who say ni!

We are the knights who say ni!

They grab the egg that exploded earlier and take it back for study.  Random science lady determines that it's not actually an egg, but a strange bacteria culture.  The movie will then proceed to henceforth only ever call them eggs, after establishing they are precisely not that.

We spend some time in the lab showing what the goo can do to creatures.  Short version: explodey.  Just remember, never touch the goo.

On top of science fun, we also do some light detective work about where the eggs are gonna go, and suspect the intention was to put them in the sewers to infect all of New York.  Because reasons.

 A look behind the scenes at how Folger's Crystals are created.

A look behind the scenes at how Folger's Crystals are created.

So the science squad and the cop head down to the import/export business that was going to pick the cargo up in the morning.   Because someone has to ruin their day and see if they can find proof of wrongdoing.

They crash in and find the warehouse is already full of eggs, so I dunno why the exporters were waiting for the more they were having come in.  They seem ready to go, really.

When confronted with being captured, the smugglers decide to die rather than being questioned and give up their plans.   So, I guess it's time for suicide by egg.

 There was a firefight!!

There was a firefight!!

Stella calls in flamethrowers to destroy all the eggs.  Now, while I am down for any plan that is summed up as "Burn everything", Stella really does run hot and cold, eh?

After giving us more fun gorey explosions, we have to sit through more science time, and I'm gonna cut to the chase: the eggs are of extraterrestrial origin.  If you weren't able to guess by the title.

Stella knows the chance of the seeds of the eggs landing on Earth while floating through the vastness of space are quite literally astronomical, she does remember a story from her past and goes to check up on an old friend, Hubbard.

He was an astronaut who went to Mars, and came back with an out of this world story about an encounter with strange eggs in a Martian cavern.  His compatriot on the mission, Hamilton, discredited his claims, and everyone thought Hubbard had gone space crazy.  Now, they think he may have been the sanest one of us all.

They go to find Hubbard, and Stella particularly goes to apologise, since she is pretty much personally responsible for getting him kicked out of the space program and labelled as a nut.  I'm sure this will go well!

After they confront each other, Stella shows Hubbard some photographs, revealing he wasn't crazy, and we get a flashback to the Mars mission.  And really, men go to Mars, bring back gooey organisim, that then goes on a rampage is pretty much the plot of Species II, but minus the sexy.

 Get your plot to Mars!

Get your plot to Mars!

They make a plan for Stella, Hubbard, and Aris to go investigate the coffee company down in South America, before they can find another nest, and put an end to this at the source.

From Mars, to NYC, to South America...this movie is sprawling in its scope, if nothing else.  It is literally all over the map.  I do actually like that though, something like an alien contamination is a global problem, not just an American one, or even a NYC one.

We jump quickly over to the people in charge of the invasion, and discover that gasp surprise, Hamilton is actually alive.  It's such a non surprise to discover this, I never even bothered to mention he was dead.

They plot to kill Stella, and she makes it easy for them by taking the time to shower while the clock is ticking on the world ending.

Our villains leave an egg in her bathroom, which is now nice and warm and moist, and lock her in with it.  At least she gets to listen to its rhythmic honking before she dies.

 The mold knows, Jack.  The mold knows...

The mold knows, Jack.  The mold knows...

This scene has some good tension, but also feels like it could be tightened up JUST a bit.  We get the idea after awhile that she's trapped with the egg and the guys don't know it yet.  It takes a long long time to get around to saving her or killing her.  But the pulse of the egg definitely helps with keeping the tension high.

Hubbard and Aris see the do not disturb sign the eggsassin left on the door, shrug and move on to have dinner.  It's a great little moment that really makes you pause and think they were SO CLOSE.  But fortunately, they feel like something is wrong, go back to knock on the door, and Holmes cries out for help.

Once she is saved, Aris and Stella go and get a bland, boring tour of the coffee factory, while Hubbard does some aerial recon to see if he can find the egg farm.

 "Hey, there's some people being chased by cannibals..."  "Leave them alone, that's a different movie!"

"Hey, there's some people being chased by cannibals..."  "Leave them alone, that's a different movie!"

Hubbard's plane has a fault in the plot complicator, and he just barely manages to bring it in for a landing, while the other two get captured by on their tour.

Our astronaut friend still has a bumper crop of eggs to find, and he at least got to the general area before the plane died.  So he trudges off into the jungle to find them, or a Predator.  I thought they were supposed to be ripping off another movie??

He eventually finds the contamination plantation, and infiltrates a group of workers gather up eggs for another shipment.  Which is good, because that leads him right back to Univer-X Coffee and we can wrap this up.

 This shit's something.  It makes Cambodia look like Kansas.

This shit's something.  It makes Cambodia look like Kansas.

While we wait for Hubbard to arrive, Hamilton shows the other two around the REAL operations at the coffee plant, and says it's time for them to meet the monstermind of this operation...The Cyclops.

The Cyclops is a giant creature that is clearly of the same stuff as the eggs, but so much more.  He's large, has two mouth, but just the one eye.  And it glows.  You know they blew the entire budget on this thing, and it probably barely worked.

Cyclops uses some mind powers on Tony, which I thought was the Phoenix's schtick, but whatever.  It summons him closer, and he is unable to resist, so he gets promptly eaten.  It does make things easier when the mind control makes the lambs lead themselves to the slaughter

 Feed me, Hamilton!

Feed me, Hamilton!

Once Aris is gobbled up, Hamilton offers up Stella, but meanwhile, his minion is leading Hubbard through the plant.  They drop in some action to punch things up, and kill more of the evil goon squad.

At least it gives us some more great chestbursting gore.  This movie is definitely not lacking in that, that is for sure.

Which finally leads to him arriving in the Cyclops chamber, so we can get this done with before Stella gets gobbled up.

 Ewwww, runny eggs.

Ewwww, runny eggs.

There's a brief scuffle between Hubbard and Hamilton, but Hubbard stops so he can drag Stella away from the Cyclops.

And like any good video game player, Hubbard knows you should always shoot at the big glowing portion of the boss character, and fires a flare right into the creature's eye.

Hamilton is just about to shoot Hubbard and Stella as they run away, but for some reason he smokes and oozes and explodes.  I guess because the main organism is dying, all the rest are too?  Which they actually explain later, so good.

But hey, one last chestsplosion before we go, so I am not complaining!

They do try and tease out an ambiguous ending by having there be one egg left behind in NYC that explodes on a pile of trash, but pffff.  New Yorkers are so frequently subjected to all manner of garbage and filth, it will probably not affect a single person.  Or the garbage people will devour it.

 And keep watching the skies!!

And keep watching the skies!!

AUTOPSY REPORT

Video: Arrow Video does it again with a solid transfer that looks great.

Audio: Also sounds as good as it looks, once you take into account the fact everything sounds ADRed and maybe not even the same actors.  But most importantly, there is an AMAZING score by Goblin!

Sound Bite: "If I have to die with the rest of the world, I want to die with a proper dress on and clean underwear."

Body Count: Whoda thought a movie featuring deadly not-eggs would have this large of a body count?  Good job!

0 - We start off with a whole ship of dead people floating into harbour.
1 - 13 minutes has our first real death from the alien eggs.
2 - Another person gets a whiff of the spores and dies too.
3 - And a third in rapid succession.
4 - Poor explodey mouse.
5 - An egg smuggler shoots a cop knocking at their door.
6 - One of the egg smugglers infects himself and explodes
7 - Taking a friend with him.
8 - And another.
9 - Tony gets crushed by the evil Cyclops
10 - Hubbard shoots a guard
11 - And a second
12 - And a third
13 - And a fourth    
14 - And a fifth.
15 - Hamilton shoots and kills his assistant on order of Cyclops
16 - Hubbard shoots the Cyclops right between...er, right in the eye.
17 - Hamilton dies from spore contamination

Best Corpse: I'm gonna go out of my normal sort and not pick one.  Because I love ever single chest explosion.

Blood Type - B+: With this many deaths, and so much gooey chests being ripped open, it gets major points.  Plus, the Cyclops is actually really cool.  It barely moves, and their reach clearly exceeded their grasp, but what's just sitting there is wicked cool.

Sex Appeal: I...don't seem to recall any nudity.

Drink Up! Every time an egg honks.  Just once for each honking session.  I'm not a monster.

Video Nasties: Enjoy some Tony being crushed and consumed by Audrey III.

Movie Review: I genuinely enjoy this movie.  Once you take into account all the factors of the way it was made, such as the time, the country, and their usual tropes like ADR dialogue, it's pretty solid.  It clearly plucks basic ideas from "Alien" to try and grab attention, but it takes that as a springboard and does its unique thing.  There's maybe a bit too much random happenstance and not enough explanations, and it's pretty camp, but it's well made camp, and a lot of late 70s fun.  Four out of five bacteria eggs.

Entertainment Value: This movie is probably the one that made me fall in love with Italian cinema.  It may not be a great movie, but it's just so wildly entertaining, and the cinematography is always something to behold (Although that's often more true of giallos, and less so here).  The dubbing is actually well done for the most part, and part of the fun.  And this movie is just a lot of fun.  If you're gonna try and make a cash in movie, this is the way to do it; just familiar enough to draw them in, but then do your own thing.  Four out of five boxes of coffee.  ...I'm keeping the fifth all for myself.

Why is my coffee honk...AWK!