Contamination (1980)

Italy made a lot of rip-offs and mockbusters in the 1970s and ’80s, and Contamination is no different. If you can’t tell from the poster art, this movie tried to pull heavily from Alien in its advertising. It also uses the idea of killer alien eggs that were inspired by HR Giger’s work, though budgetary constraints caused the plot to be drastically reworked. And then the producer interference began, from the name (Contamination was supposed to be used for a different rip-off film of The China Syndrome) to the plot to the special effects. That said, director Luigi Cozzi did at least get to pull in some cast and crew from films such as Starcrash and Zombi 2, so he probably saved a few bucks there. Germany also jumped onto the bandwagon, because why let one European country have all the fun?

But how is it? It’s awful, of course! The plot is silly: an alien cyclops is using a possessed astronaut to release its eggs on Earth, eggs which cause people to explode if they come in contact with them! And then there is a special section of the government trying to solve the case, where their biggest struggle is their own ineptitude and completely misplaced sense of design for how American agencies look, particularly law enforcement and military branches. Yeah, it’s one of those movies that pulled all of its knowledge from bad movies, so you just have bad movie logic feeding into bad movie logic. But hey, never let a low budget get in the way of what the people want: gore. And this film features people’s bodies exploding almost instantaneously after they bloat up from the obvious pumps hidden under their clothes. The effect looks awful, yet it was intense enough to get this movie added to the Video Nasty list in Britain.

While the audio has not fared well over the years and sounds distorted and muted, the soundtrack is by none other than Goblin, albeit using songs they wrote for other films. Goblin was hired by Dario Argento to redo the soundtrack for Dawn of the Dead when it was released in Italy, and while those songs have never found their way back into the film in any release, many of them were used in other cheap B- or Z-grade genre pictures in Italy at the time. I recognized one of them while I was watching Contamination and applauded their use. Because sometimes Goblin is the best thing these movies have going for them. Hell, who am I kidding, Goblin rules.

Could this have been good? Probably not. There was never a budget, it was always going to be a rip-off film, and Luigi Cozzi’s name isn’t exactly synonymous with quality. Yet studio interference and nationalistic protectionism in the form of moral outrage on the part of nations like England definitely cut into this movie. It’s worth seeing a few folks’ chests pop like bubbles though. You’re getting exactly what you pay for in that department.

Also, enjoy this trailer. It’s basically the entire movie condensed into three minutes.

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