(Originally announced as Alien Arrives on Earth; also known as Contamination)
Oh, those crafty Italian movie guys. If an English-language horror movie makes money in Italy, they’re awfully quick to throw together an unofficial sequel and get it into theaters mere months after the original film. I really don’t know how long they’ve been doing this, but it became pretty obvious after The Exorcist was released. Suddenly, there seemed to be a new possession flick coming out every few weeks, and nearly all of them were from Italy. Beyond the Door, The Tempter, and The House of Exorcism were a few that showed up here in the States. The next big Italian rip-off wave came with George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was released as Zombi in Italy. Its legion of imitations started with Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 (as it was known in Italy), which was known here as simply Zombie. The Italian film industry rode the zombie wave long and hard, with Italian zombie films still being released in the States five years after Dawn of the Dead’s theatrical run.
And then there was Alien. While most of the Alien rip-offs actually came from the U.S. and Britain (and most of those from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures), Italy tried to jump on that bandwagon, too. And so the world got Alien Contamination, which, as far as I can tell, made very little money for its producers. Its director, Luigi Cozzi, readily admits that the film was a flop in Italy, where it was released as Contamination. In the United States, it was bought for release by Cannon Films, which stuck the word “Alien” into the title to try to beef up the film’s appeal. There’s also some debate as to whether this was ever released theatrically in the United States. Michael Weldon says that it wasn’t, but the one sheet shown above tends to refute that assertion. If indeed it did get a U.S. release, it certainly wasn’t a wide release. So, I’m sure that you’re thinking that you’ll take a pass on this one if it ever presents itself for viewing. If you did, you’d be missing a fairly entertaining movie that would have been right at home on the bottom half of a double bill at a drive-in theater near you.
The plot of Alien Contamination involves green egg-like pods that explode and cause anyone who is hit with the egg-pod gunk to also explode, usually from the chest area. A ship loaded with these egg sacs pulls into New York City Harbor, and the investigators sent aboard the seemingly-deserted ship find out that all the crew members died from close encounters with their cargo. As the egg sacs are all stored in boxes bearing a Colombian coffee factory logo, the investigators head to Colombia, where they find that the source of the eggs is a creature from Mars.
If you go into Alien Contamination expecting nothing, you’re in for a good time. If you’re expecting something that resembles a movie that actual humans would take time and care to make, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. When you stop to think about it, the movie makes no sense. But if you can ignore that little fact, you’re bound to have a good time. The movie does start off slow, but it picks up once the location shifts from New York to Colombia. And, for those who love their Italian movies with a dollop of music from Goblin, Alien Contamination boasts one of the group’s better scores.
There are two editions of this film floating around. Although either is fine, the preferred version is the widescreen DVD from Blue Underground that runs about ten minutes longer than the pan-and-scan version that’s from East-West and other legally-questionable labels, which means that you get ten more minutes of gloriously stupid dialogue and a few more badly-executed chest explosions. You should probably put it in your Netflix queue. Now.
Here’s the international trailer from YouTube:
And here’s the whole film, again by way of YouTube (and of course, the usual caveats about watching it soon because it can be taken down at any time apply):