Guys I feel weird saying this, but I like Contamination better than I like the original Alien. That’s a bold statement. I can’t fully explain except that the original Alien is clearly the scarier movie, but as some of you may know, entertainment is what I crave. I don’t necessarily need to be scared to enjoy a picture and between some of the most fun splatter effects of any early 80’s picture, Ian McCullouch in the lead and Cozzi in the director seat as well as Goblin’s score setting the mood. This is what Italian Horror is all about. Taking a proven concept and then making it just fun as Hell. Arrow Video is releasing Contamination in an amazing package, available in the US and UK, breaking the chains of its Video Nasty status.
Let’s talk about the extras for a minute. It includes newly translated subtitles (typically there’s a reason for the new translation though I’m not familiar with the specifics off-hand). The disc includes commentary from Fango editor, Chris Alexander who has been making the rounds to do commentaries and intros for all your favorite Italian and Euro Horror classics. Some of you balk at that idea because you haven’t been into Fangoria for years, but I can assure you that Alexander knows his stuff. His editorials on Italian Horror and his commentary always provide insight into the release and display the kind of passion that you’d want in a fan commentary. I may not always enjoy popular horror sites, but I do enjoy Fangoria because they have strong leadership in Chris Alexander (even if we disagree at times). Alexander also wrote the editorial for the accompanying booklet. Beyond that you get an archived making of featurette with director Cozzi as well as an in depth look back at one of the Italian master’s careers. If that’s not enough Cozzi the disc includes an informative Q&A with Cozzi and McCulloch.
Perhaps the most important thing for Italian Horror/Action fans is the featurette about the Italian copycat game. With the new Eli Roth cannibal feature coming out and movies like Witchery and Ghosthouse seeing proper Blu-ray releases you’ll want to understand the game. These little features are what makes Arrow releases special. They create educated movie watchers and better fans. Also dear to my heart is the discussion of the soundtrack by the keyboardist from Goblin. Remember that I’m a bit of a soundtrack junkie, so anything referencing this especially great score is a must watch. Remember that parts of this score were co opted without permission for use in Hell of the Living Dead which just saw it’s Blu-ray release in the US via Blue Underground. The music should be familiar to you.
The transfer is superb. This movie demands great color saturation based on the effects work, and it looks phenomenal. The grain structure looks great. It’s clear. It’s free from digitization (to the best of my naked, unpretentious eye). Another strong visually stunning release from a company that knows how to do transfers.
It is also worth noting that the newly commissioned Gary Pullin cover art is also a treat for the fanboy in all of us. Sure you get the traditional artwork on the reverse, but I think Pullin’s is better in this instance.
The movie itself is jam packed with a fairly standard mystery plot that relies on effects on tried and true Italian movie stars that create a fun world in which to have an alien adventure. Despite the influence of Alien on this picture, the two movies are completely different save for a few choice of effects and visual cues. The movie appears lighter and less menacing, happening in your everyday world rather than on the confines of a space ship. It almost pairs perfectly with Bohus’ Deadly Spawn in that it is an effects driven nightmare. Every kill is superb and the finale is filled with a dark lair that may not the planet in Alien, but it certainly feels like a game of Contra being live action performed in front of your very eyes.
So Alien is scarier, but Contamination aka Alien Contamination aka Toxic Spawn is just more fun. It has suspenseful moments that work in a horrific way and effects that allow you to enjoy the practical mastery of the Italians. Can you imagine what they would have gotten with stop animation instead of the animatronics? The extra package is exhaustive. The actual physical packaging and booklet are gorgeous. The movie looks fantastic. Get nasty with Contamination. Enjoy exploding alien pods! This is why Cozzi is great (even if he wasn’t allowed to use Caroline Munro).
Synopsis: 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!
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
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
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