Blu-ray Movie Review – Contamination (1980)

Directed by Luigi Cozzi (as Lewis Coates)
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1980
Blu-ray Release Date: July 7, 2015


ALIEN and the films in its franchise are some of my favorite movies of all time. They are intense and terrifying, with amazing special effects and the most horrific aliens I’ve ever seen. The first film was so groundbreaking that hundreds of mimics were made, all set to ride on the coattails of the original’s success. One such film, Luigi Cozzi’s CONTAMINATION, shamelessly flaunts itself as taking the premise of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece and peppering it with exploding guts galore. This is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly when it comes to the projectile gut-splattering, however it is important to keep things in perspective when watching the film. If you go into this film with the right mindset, you’re in for a guaranteed good time.

If you are not familiar with CONTAMINATION, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of MVD Distribution:

Branded as a “video nasty” in the UK, director Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination takes the premise of Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and peppers it with exploding guts galore and a dangerously infectious soundtrack from celebrated Italian prog-rockers Goblin (Deep Red, Suspiria). A cargo ship drifts up the Hudson River. Its crew: all dead, their bodies horribly mutilated, turned inside out by an unknown force. Its freight: boxes upon boxes of glowing, pulsating green eggs. It soon becomes clear that these eggs are not of this planet, and someone intends to cultivate them here on Earth. But who? And to what end? Starring Italian horror veteran Ian McCulloch (Zombie Flesh Eaters), Contamination is an ultra-violent sci-fi epic that really gets under the skin. In space, no one can hear you scream – but on Earth, the terror rings loud and clear!

I thought this film would be diehard science fiction horror, which is why I didn’t enjoy it to begin with. But as the movie progressed, my mindset changed, and I started seeing it for what it is: a schlocky, B-grade homage to Ridley Scott and his work. And it is done this way on purpose. Once I came to that realization, my viewpoint about the film changed, and I wound up having a blast.

CONTAMINATION is 35 years old, and it shows. The film is very dated, due in part to the clothing, hairstyles, and cars seen throughout. This aspect does not detract from the film, however you will definitely be able to tell it is an aged picture. Arrow once again delivers in the quality department, however, by providing a 2k restoration of the film from the original camera negative. As a result, the picture looks very good and the sound is excellent.

The acting is a different story. I understand Italian cinema from that era tried desperately to imitate American works, but it sure seemed lacking when it came to the acting talent. Nobody in this film gives a particularly great performance, and there’s quite a bit of overacting. But surprisingly, this actually helps add to the film’s charm. Weird, I know, but you just have to see it to understand.

The special effects in CONTAMINATION are where this film shines. They are very well done in most aspects for a film of this time period. I say ‘most aspects’ because a few of the set pieces are reminiscent of an Ed Wood film, but most everything else is well done and looks tight. I particularly like the exploding chest scenes; there’s plenty of carnage when these happen, and it looks excellent onscreen.

CONTAMINATION won’t be for everyone, but it’s a win for me. If you like schlocky B-movies, Italian cinema in general, or alien invasion flicks, this is one film you’ll want to check out. The Special Edition Blu-ray also contains:

* Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
* Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
* Newly translated subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
* Brand new audio commentary by filmmaker, Fangoria editor and Contamination super-fan Chris Alexander
* Notes on Science-Fiction Cinema: An archive documentary featuring behind-the-scenes footage and director Luigi Cozzi on the birth of Contamination
* 2014 Q&A with Cozzi and star Ian McCulloch
* Sound of the Cyclops: Goblin’s Maurizio Guarini on the music of Contamination – the Goblin keyboardist discusses Contamination’s dark, progressive rock score and a lifetime making music for Italian terror
* Luigi Cozzi vs. Lewis Coates – a brand new interview with the director in which he discusses his filmmaking career from past to present
* Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery: A Critical Analysis of the Italian Cash-In – a brand new featurette looking at the Italian gerne movies which sought to cash-in on popular Hollywood blockbusters
* Theatrical Trailer
* Graphic Novel based on the original Contimanation screenplay [Disc Gallery]
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
* Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris Alexander


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