(A.k.a. ALIEN DEGLI ABISSI)
Greenpeace activist Jane (Marina Giulia Cavalli) and her cameraman Lee (Robert Marius) are being ferried by a small boat to a remote island where they hope to investigate tales of atomic testing taking place.
The locals are clearly not ready to welcome unannounced visitors to their shores, and let out a few warning shots to steer the boat away. Undeterred, Jane and Lee jump into a little dinghy and make it on to the island under relative anonymity. Before long they've located a secret laboratory stationed in the island's jungle, and break in to investigate further.
Unfortunately they are soon spotted on a primitive CCTV system and the military scientists of the base give chase. They capture Lee fairly quickly; Jane escapes into the jungle and, following a strangely lazy chase sequence, is rescued by resident snake farmer Bob (Daniel Bosch).
Bob listens to Jane's stories of how the scientists are toying with nature by running atomic tests on the island and effectively creating a huge time-bomb by using the local volcano as a dumping ground for their toxic waste. Much to her surprise, he agrees to help her make a return break-in to the laboratory and recover a video cassette evidencing the crimes against nature being committed inside.
But with ill-tempered Colonel Kovaks (Charles Napier) and his trigger-happy soldiers overseeing the experiments, it's not going to be an easy task for them - even if they do eventually receive assistance from beleaguered scientist Dr Geoffrey (Luciano Pigozzi).
What none of them could have anticipated, however, was that the real imminent threat in this messy scenario is a creature that has been borne of toxic waste - complete with giant talons!
From Antonio Marghereti, the late great director of cult gems such as CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE and CASTLE OF BLOOD - a filmmaker whose legacy resonates to this day such that Tarantino deemed fit shoehorn his name into his INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS script - comes this late addition to the spate of Italian ALIEN knock-offs that surfaced throughout the 1980s.
ALIEN FROM THE DEEP was released in 1989. It was a barren time for the sci-fi horror genre at large then, with a media backlash only serving to further encourage the censors to hack away at anything with even a mild horror slant. Consequently, most studios shied away from the genre, preferring instead to turn to the more palatable strain of serial killer thrillers such as THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
What little horror that did get the green-light from studios at the time was of the safe, tongue-in-cheek variety.
It's little surprise then that Marghereti's film, based on Tito Carpi's script, plays let like a straight horror and more as an amalgamation of several genres. It begins as a drama before taking off in an action movie direction, attempting light humour at times and even flirting very briefly with erotica. It's not until the final act that events take on an overtly sci-fi horror persuasion.
By that time, the viewer has sat through a rather plodding 70 minutes of exposition, risible dialogue and dubbing of peripheral characters which is so crummy that it almost appears intentional.
Framed in an ugly manner, directed in flat, uninspired takes that do little to attempt to lift the overlong script from the doldrums, and suffering further from a distinct lack of charisma from the usually interesting cast (Napier aside - he's as amusingly intense as ever), ALIEN FROM THE DEEP really disappoints.
It's not a problem that it's a bad film. That, I feel, was a given. But all the ingredients - from the director and cast, to the synopsis - suggested that this was going to be a rollicking addition to the "so bad it's good" canon. It's not: it's just dull for the most part.
Admittedly, the final 20 minutes when the laughably crappy monster rears its claw and a few minor explosions blow the shit out of toy cars etc, is great. In a naff way. But, up until then, the meandering storyline and resolute lack of any fundamental exploitation kicks (where are the boobs, the gore, or even the car chases?) make this a very good cure for insomnia.
Considering the lashings of gore that the back cover promises, I reckon this could pass as a certificate 12 in the UK.
One 7 Movies' region-free DVD isn't bad though.
The film itself is presented in full-frame and looks fairly decent, with strong colours and relatively sharp images. The print is reasonably clean and bright and, while I suspect the aspect ratio to be incorrect, everything looks comfortably framed.
Audio is presented in mono options of English and Italian. Most characters are dubbed so the Italian audio is probably the preferred choice - alas, there are no English subtitles provided. The English audio was fine and clean throughout.
A static main menu page leads into an animated scene-selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 12 chapters.
Extras include a generous gallery of stills that runs for 3 minutes (and is set to Robert O Ragland and Andrea Ridolfi's stirring score - perhaps the film's greatest asset), and the original Italian credits sequence.
So, not a bad effort from One 7 Movies. It's nice to see ALIEN FROM THE DEEP out on DVD, and great that this is a region-free release too. But the film was a disappointment, given the talent involved.
Worth it for the last 20 minutes, and the always enjoyable prospect of watching Mr Napier chewing scenery.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by One-7 Movies|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|