I love watching horror movies. Good, bad, it doesn't matter. It is rare indeed that you find a horror movie that is so bad you can't watch it through to the end. Don't worry, I'm not writing about one of those. Instead this review is for the Severin release of SHOCKING DARK, a movie made in Italy by folks that obviously went to the movies.
Let's just say up front that this movie is a complete rip-off of ALIENS with a touch of THE TERMINATOR thrown in for good measure. More than that, it's a rip-off of those movies with a budget that may have matched a days' worth of catering on the real films. Yes, it is low low budget and it shows.
Venice, Italy, has a waste problem in their canals. A company is called in with a method of cleaning the city up but something goes wrong and the city is laid to waste in waste. Worse yet a team of scientists who were there to start a new project cleaning the city have gone missing and all communications with them are down. The decision is made to send in the Marines. Not just any Marines but a group that call themselves Mega Force (no relation to the Megaforce group led by Barry Bostwick in the movie of the same name).
The members of the Megaforce resemble the same team that was there in ALIENS, most notable Geretta Geretta as Koster who looks like Jenette Goldstein as Private Vasquez down to the near identical headband and Haven Tyler as Dr. Sara Drumbull who looks a lot like Sigourney Weaver as Ripley down to similar attire. The same blowhard camaraderie exists with this group as in the other film as well.
The team is outfitted with the latest tech to help them do their job. Which while in the future looks exactly like the shotguns we have today. For protection they have what looks like plastic forearm covers held in place with elastic straps. They do have some fancy threads though with yellow puffed out pieces on their armpits. Once equipped they're sent in to find out what happened and to rescue the information found on site as well as any survivors.
Going along for the ride is a humorless representative of the Tubular Corporation, the company responsible for the cleanup, named Fuller. The team doesn't want him along but has no choice. With all systems in the facility down, their only means of communication with the main base is radios. I did say this was in the future, right?
Once in place things begin to go horribly wrong. It turns out those in the facility were exposed to a DNA agent that altered their physiology changing them into monstrous creatures that pop out of nowhere and begin killing off the Marines. Along the way they come across a young girl (can you say Newt ALIENS fan?), the daughter of the man left in charge who helps them access the computers. And eventually SPOILER ALERT we discover that Fuller is not there to do what he claimed and is actually a robotic agent working for Tubular. Shades of the Terminator!
When released the movie came out in some places as TERMINATOR 2 and in others as ALIENATORS hoping to cash in on the success of those films the movie is not a tribute to either. Instead it is yet another movie made by director Bruno Mattei, the Italian director known for working in various exploitation genres and for basing many of his films on those already made. If you go in knowing this up front the odds of having fun with the movie greatly increase.
So let me start with the good. To begin with Severin has done an amazing job with this movie, presenting it in the cleanest looking format possible, a hi-def blu-ray release scanned in 2k from the Director's cut negative discovered in a Rome lab vault that looks gorgeous for being such a low budget film. To be clear, the print is gorgeous not quite the movie itself. The use of locations and the monsters on view, what little we see of them, is pretty good considering this was before the days of CGI. And if you watch the film as more something worth laughing at than taking seriously it plays fairly well. The gore effects are small in quantity but not bad.
Onto the bad and there is a lot of that. The acting here is some of the most horrendous you'll find. Lines are read as if they pulled people off the street to perform them. Even the leads are terrible here speaking lines like they're reading them from a page for the first time. When people yell excitedly you expect them to read that word as well like "Captain come here he said excitedly!" The sets, while looking good, look like someone had a friend who worked at a power plant who let them in the back door at night to shoot the movie. If someone told me these were sets made for the film I would demand they prove it. Scenes in the main base when they communicate via radio with the team sound like the man in charge saying his lines and someone off to the side yelling their responses back using a megaphone. Outdoor scenes have the Vaseline smeared lens look to them. The dialogue as written is lame. And the way they throw everything into the film from two others is hilarious. Another SPOILER ALERT. Near the end of the film Dr. Drumbull and the young girl find another room in the Venice facility that has a time machine they use to escape Fuller. Except ala the Terminator he goes back in time as well. That time machine gizmo was a pretty convenient item to have on hand at a genetics lab eh?
Now, with all the bad I've just listed I have to say this. The movie is fun. No it's not Oscar material and probably not even worth qualifying for the Razzies since they focus on movies meant to be good. This one is another in a long line of Italian exploitation films made to make a buck by hanging onto the coattails of more successful films. They're fun and sometimes silly and sometimes referred to as Euro-trash flicks. They're movies meant to be watched and enjoyed and not taken too seriously. And for many they're movies now to sit at home and create drinking games around.
I've noted before that there have been a huge number of movies made over the years and many have been lost due to zero effort to retain them in safe storage or having been neglected and falling prey to vinegar syndrome where they simply deteriorate. ALL films should be preserved in one format or another to be enjoyed or looked at from an historical aspect, no matter what the subject matter, quality or the fact that they were exploitative in nature. There are people who long to see those films again remembering them from their childhood having seen them as second features at drive-ins, on pay cable stations or on late night TV. Judos to Severin for taking the time to make this one a decent release rather than a slapped together DVD offering. They've even gone so far as to include a few extra items like TERMINATOR IN VENICE an interview with co-directorco-screenwriters Claudio Fragasso and co-screenwriter Rosella Drudi, ONCE UPON A TIME IN ITALY an interview with actress Geretta Geretta (who some will remember from the movie DEMONS and alternate Italian titles for the film.
If you're a fan of Italian horror films, Eurotrash films, the films of Bruno Mattei or just all around fun horror movies that shouldn't be taken too seriously then you need to see this one. The fact that Severin made it so watchable just adds to this release. Watch it, know what you're going into beforehand and have some fun with it.
Review by kirbylee70-599-526179 from the Internet Movie Database.