Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Contamination is a delight from start to finish for those who like that sort of thing."

New York, 1980. A ship arrives in a harbour with no-one aboard. No-one living, that is. Soon the salvage team discover mangled corpses. They also discover what look like rubbery green eggs. Then they explode.

Contamination has been described as an Alien rip-off based on the appearance of those eggs, but that's really unfair; the eggs are different, smaller, less effectual, much like its plotline. As something more than ordinary smuggling is evidently going on, the case is soon in the hands of a colonel, otherwise referred to as Stella (Louise Marleau). With an unlikely shortage of underlings, Stella personally visits the home of an astronaut (Ian McCulloch) who once returned from Mars ranting and raving and producing line drawings of something that looked a bit similar. Despite an attitude and way of living that suggest alcoholism, he cleans up in no time and the two of them set off, along with obnoxiously lascivious cop Tony (Marino Masé), to pursue a rumour that the eggs are connected to a coffee plantation in South America.

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With sneering villains, rubbish gore effects, an entirely undeserved Goblin soundtrack and an ultimate horror that looks like an old Doctor Who monster, Contamination is a delight from start to finish for those who like that sort of thing. The atrocious English dub just adds to the pleasure. Buyers should be aware, however, that some versions are heavily censored and really not worth watching (because so much of the story is lost). There is cheerfully endorsed violence against women (both actual and implied) that some may object to, but it's hard to imagine anyone taking the film seriously enough to be influenced by it. Some genre fans will be annoyed that (despite the obligatory shower scene) there isn't more nudity; others will be more annoyed by the military heroine's utter uselessness in the face of danger, but at least she has spirit. And it has to be said that, aside from being immune to bullets, the male protagonists are pretty useless too.

There's a clear influence from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers here, though all the intelligent bits have been stripped out. Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters also comes to mind, though Contamination comes nowhere close to emulating either its beauty or its chills. Nevertheless, it's an endearing little film, energetic and earnest. Ideal for parties and midnight grindhouse screenings.

Reviewed on: 07 Jul 2014
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When strange and apparently deadly eggs arrive in a New York harbour, the race is on to uncover their origins.
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Director: Luigi Cozzi

Writer: Luigi Cozzi

Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Masé, Siegfried Rauch, Gisela Hahn

Year: 1980

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Italy, West Germany


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