By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Hybrid brother in basement.
On her deathbed genetics researcher Amanda Hollins (Kim Hunter) tells her son John (David Allen Brooks) to destroy her latest experiment as well as his ‘brother’ Anthony. John had no idea that he ever had a brother, but when he and some of his friends go to his mother’s home they find a monstrous being dwelling in the basement that proceeds to attack them.
The first part of this movie I actually liked as it thankfully manages to underplay things. The concept is certainly farfetched, but the filmmakers envelope it within a realm of believability, which kept me mildly intrigued. They also don’t show the monster right away and instead reveal only his tentacles sticking up through the floorboards, which allows the viewer to use their own imagination in trying to figure out what it is. This is something that a lot of modern horror films in their effort to impress audiences with the latest dazzling effects have lost and I wish they would go back to. Pulling back a little and letting the viewer create their own personal dark images to the horror is always more effective than having it spelled out for them with some overdone concoction.
The acting is surprisingly solid too especially for an ‘80s horror movie. The leads are bland, except for the beautiful Amanda Pays who plays her duplicitous role well, but they at least manage to convey their lines in a reasonably convincing fashion. It’s also nice to see screen veterans like Hunter in the cast, but she goes away too quickly. Rod Steiger is enjoyable as the evil doctor and I’m sure in his mind starring in these low budget things would have to seem like a major career downturn, but his intense eyes and expression are perfect for this type of material and his hideous wig is hilarious.
The climactic sequence though is a disappointment. The monster, once he does finally get revealed, reminded me too much of the creature in Alien, or just some giant bug. Watching the pesky little baby creatures dwelling in some lab jars was more effective although even here they started to become reminiscent to the Gremlins.
In either event the ‘horrific’ finale is too formulaic and redundant to be either exciting or interesting. I wanted the same minimalistic approach present at the beginning to have been retained in all the way through. Sometimes less is more, but unfortunately instead of walking away from this feeling like I had been treated to something new and original I felt more like I had been bombarded with the same-old tired clichéd crap that I had already seen a hundred times before.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: January 9, 1987
Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes
Director: Jeffrey Obrow & Stephen Carpenter
Studio: FM Entertainment
Available: VHS (Upcoming DVD has been announced, but not yet released)