Friday, March 15, 2019

Alien from the Deep

Alien from the Deep (aka Alien degli abyss)
Antonio Margheriti

Jane (Marina Giulia Cavalli) and Lee (Robert Marius) sneak on to a remote island in hopes of exposing the illegal pollution disposal going on there. Colonel Kovacs (Charles Napier) runs the operation and is not too happy having do-gooders sneaking around. Elsewhere on the island is a venom expert named Bob (Daniel Bosch). Everyone’s plans go straight to hell when an alien shows up eager to get its giant claw on some yummy toxic waste.

First, off the alien isn’t exactly from the deep, it just sorts of lands there briefly before tunneling around under the ground. This is an Italian SF film from the 1980s, so, it is less about title accuracy and more about getting butts in seats by drawing upon other popular movies. 1989 saw no less than four deep-sea themed science-fiction movies, The Abyss, Deep Star Six, Leviathan, and Lords of the Deep. It is small wonder that the man who brought us Yor, Hunter from the Future (1983) and Killer Fish (1979) would want a piece of that action, even though this outing has more in common with Alien 2: On Earth (1980) than any ocean-related alien movie.

"I wore this orange shirt to cheer myself up and it is not working."
The first two-thirds of Alien from the Deep is basically an action movie centering around exposing a toxic waste disposal operation in a volcano. The alien finally makes its presence known by an almost completely off-screen crash into a nearby lake. At this point, things start to take a more familiar turn as everyone tries to accomplish their goals while the monster is lurking about grabbing people. I think it would be easy to view this genre switch as some kind of incompetent scripting, but it feels more like it is meant to mimic the sudden turn in Predator (1987) which also features an unseen alien menace interrupting the action.

Charles Napier as Colonel Kovacks steals the movie. Kovacks is a huge jerk, he’s nasty to his underlings, brutal, and determined. Yet, by the time he reaches the finale, he is revealed to be a character who isn’t wholly without honor. He is just driven to do his job at all costs and is pretty ruthless about it. I’m not entirely certain what his plan is during his final stand-off with the monster, but neither is he, since he just stands there and shoots at it until it kills him.

Somebody is smiling at least.
The alien shows some obvious H.R. Giger influences, but it still is a pretty unique creature. Most of the time it is glimpsed as a single giant claw until the finale when we see the whole ropy beast. Kudos to the special effects department for actually building a giant claw to knock people around. The fact that a single touch from the alien can infect people and melt them makes it an even more horrifying threat. There are a number of miniature effects throughout the film to various degrees of success, but the best moments are the ones featuring the alien battling a couple of bulldozers.

There is nothing particularly brilliant or original happening in Alien from the Deep, but it manages to keep things interesting with its weightless gory fun.

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