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Contamination (1980)

Arrow Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/7/2015

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/13/2015

It's unfair to accuse Italians of stealing movie ideas from Americans. It's true, but it's still unfair. But, at least they're usually willing to admit that they are stealing, and isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Such is the case with Contamination, which is better known in this country as Alien Contamination, a film which was released in 1980 to capitalize on the success of Alien.

Whereas Alien was about a monster that came from an egg-like object, Contamination focuses on the eggs and only gives the monster a little screen-time at the end. As the film opens, an unmanned ship sails into the harbor of New York. The crew investigating the ship, including police detective Tony Aris (Marino Mase), find the hold to be full of large, green eggs. They soon learn that when the eggs get warm, they explode, causing anyone within close proximity to explode as well.

Aris is taken to a government lab, where he is debriefed by Colonel Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau). They begin to investigate the origins of the eggs and discover that they may be linked to a doomed mission to Mars involving astronaut Hubert (Ian McCulloch). They also realize that someone may be planning to use the eggs to take over the world.

You've got to hand it to Contamination, it apparently has no shame in imitating the films that inspired it. The eggs are straight out of Alien, as are the exploding chests, and a cavern in which the eggs are discovered bears a close resemblance to the derelict ship found on LV-426 in Alien. However, that's where the similarities end, especially since when the chests explode here, nothing emerges except for guts! The remainder of the film is more of a thriller, which devolves into a James Bond knockoff, as the team races to save the planet from the alien eggs. For me, a point of interest was the fact that several scenes in Contamination echoed themes which would emerge in Aliens. Now, I'm not implying that James Cameron & Co. ripped off a rip-off, I'm just saying that there's similarities.

Due to the unabashed "homages" to Alien and the non-stop gore supplied by the exploding victims, Contamination has some fun moments. Unfortunately, most of the film is bogged down by boring dialogue scenes and gratuitous padding of people walking and driving. Even the film's most suspenseful scene, which involves a woman, an egg, and a bathroom, becomes tedious as the scene is drawn out for far too long. The lack of any real action in the film belies the movie's low-budget. And the dialogue scenes contain way too much dialogue, bombarding the viewer with a deluge of unnecessary words. While Contamination makes good use of the ideas that it's stolen, at heart it is simply another boring Euro-horror film.

Contamination emphasizes why we need stronger restrictions on imported coffee on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Arrow Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, but there is some obvious, but mild grain at times, as well as some very minor defects. For the most part, the colors look good, but some scenes are mildly muted. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture gets a bit soft at times, but otherwise the level of detail is good. Life many films from this era, there is a certain flatness to the picture. The Disc carries a LPCM 1.0 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 2.3 Mbps. The track is quite unbalanced, as the music is much louder than the dialogue and sound effects. This music is notably tinny and annoying. Thus, I was constantly riding the volume control.

The Contamination Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Fangoria editor Chris Alexander. "Luigi Cozzi on Contamination" (23 minutes) is an archive piece in which Co-Writer/Director Cozzi talks about his inspirations for the film (where he openly cites Alien) and how the film came together. We see Cozzi at work in his office and then we are treated to on-set footage which is accompanied by commentary from Cozzi. "Contamination Q&A" (41 minutes) is from an event in 2014 where the director and the star filed questions following a screening of the film. "Sound of the Cyclops" (12 minutes) is a modern-day interview with Goblin keyboardist Maurizio Guarini who talks about the film's score. "Luigi Cozzi vs. Lewis Coates" (43 minutes) is another modern-day interview in which Cozzi talks about his career and his love of sci-fi and horror movies. "Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery" (17 minutes) is a brief documentary which examines how the Italian film industry copies Hollywood hits. This looks at various genres and movies and is quiet interesting, and makes no apologies about how unapologetic these movies are. We next get a black and white "Graphic Novel" based on the movie, and finally a TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long