Contamination (1980)


Director: Luigi Cozzi
Starring: Ian McCulloch Louise Marleau Marino Masé Siegfried Rauch Gisela Hahn. Italy/Germany. 1h 22m

A ship carrying coffee,pulls into a New York harbour, but no one is on board, instead it’s filled with glowing “eggs” when tampered with they explode, spraying toxic liquid that causes massive tissue damage to anyone near them, an expert is called in to investigate the matter, Colonel Stella Holmes (Marleau) and her journey to discover the source is exciting and dangerous. Initially she freezes the samples but when more are found she brings in the flamethrowers, but how can we be sure that they have all been destroyed, where do they come from and what’s going on? WIth all these questions she digs deeper into the physiology of the “eggs” and soon comes to the conclusion that they are not from this planet, she tracks down one of two astronauts who have recently returned from Mars, but now Commander Ian Hubbard (MuCulloch) is a shabby down and out alcoholic but after some prompting he sorts his shit out and helps out the stunning Colonel.

The names of astronauts Hubbard and Hamilton pay homage to sci-fi writers L. Ron Hubbard’ and Edmond Hamilton.

The trail leads them to the coffee plantation whose ship ended up abandoned in the harbour, and after a messy assassination attempt on Stella it soon becomes apparent that a blast from Hubbards past has more to do with this attack on humanity.

Listen, Aris, if I have to die with the rest of the world then I want to have a proper dress on and clean underwear.

After the commercial success of Starcrash (1978) Cozzi wanted to recreate that greatness and after seeing Alien (1979) he decided to have a slice of that pie, adapting the ideas of alien eggs and a nasty beastie that’s trying to use human bodies as a catalyst to take over the planet. The only real let down was the big beastie at the end, sadly the original idea of using stop motion was dumped for a monster that had to be pushed and pulled by stagehands, but it still worked to some degree. Cozzi also returned to using a lot of cast members who hs had some history with, MuCulloch starred in Zombi 2 (1979) but sadly couldn’t use Caroline Munro again but had to make do with Marino instead.

So much about this film screams Italian Slasher/Zombie horror, from the Goblin soundtrack to the screenplay and cutting, if a Fulci eye poke has been included it wouldn’t have stood out. In the second half of the film things switch from horror to James Bond action and then rapidly changes into a real sci fi  film for the ending, so at times you’ll be forgiven for feeling out of place but it all works as the film does straddle all of these, just usually the director doesn’t slant so hard on the changing the look and feel in such dramatic fashions.
Its clearly a copy of several films but with the feeling of Zombi 2 (1979) (lost boat in the harbour, McCulloch and a damsel in distress) it has some interesting moments but could have produced something better if given more time and attention, I really liked the film, cheesy scenes included, but while some simples scenes could have been shot quicker to make way for a more impressive ending, I don’t think this film will ever been remembered for anything other than being an Alien rip off…

Rating 5/10

R – Alien (1979), StarCrash (1978), Nightmare City (1980), Alien 2 : On Earth (1980)
L – Space Horrors, 80 for the 1980’s, Italian Sci Fi Films,
5s – Ian McCulloch, Luigi Cozzi,
Vs – Contamination Vs Aliens
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