Friday, October 15

Undeserving of its Nifty Cover - Metamorphosis (1990)

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After some science that would give an expert an aneurysm from laughter, a scientist/professor (young Christopher Reeve lookalike Gene LeBrock) discovers a "cromozone" procedure that might defeat the aging process. Upon reaching the brink, the university overseeing the project decides to defund any further progress. In a last ditch effort to prove the results are real, the researcher decides to become his own first human test subject. Things don't quite go as planned as he begins to notice his body changing as the screenplay calls David Cronenberg, but the famed Canadian director tells it to go fuck off...

Metamorphosis is a great example of the worst type of bad movie. Despite obviously being bad, things are bearable for just long enough that when you finally realize it's been an utter waste of time--you're almost at the conclusion anyway. Another "bad" bad movie characteristic is how the narrative lumbers along trying to repeatedly hammer away at what's already safely assumed by the viewer. Even with being a blatant shitty rip-off of 1986's The Fly with a hint of Re-Animator, every by-the-number "twist" can be seen from a mile away. This kind of story should be effortless; not a chore to watch as you ponder what else could be done with your time.

Instead of going wild in the streets with low rent gore and a fuck all attitude, we're treated to wooden actors delivering stilted dialogue wrapped in a festering tortilla of terrible filmmaking. A point-and-shoot aesthetic, motorized zooms, bad lighting, boom mic shadows everywhere, reverbing on-location dialogue, and scenes of either boring people doing things or boring things happening at a snail's pace. There's quite literally nothing interesting here, besides the scientist finally transforming into a midget paper mache dinosaur in the last five minutes. Well, even that's uneventful after you realize that aspect was badly inserted for God knows what reason and the mutant was simply the incredible melting man...

The most interesting aspect about Metamorphosis is who's actually behind its putrid stench. George Eastman wrote and directed this production. Yes, the frequent towering apeman cohort of Joe D'Amato and the Antropophagus himself. Not to disparage Eastman, but it's fairly obvious the actor/writer was brought on as director-for-hire with this feature being his only substantive credit. Given the desperately "serious" tone of Metamorphosis, one can only imagine this was one of Filmirage's last grasps at something resembling legitimacy; the Italian production behind such late pastaland cheesefests as Troll 2, Door to Silence, and a slew of '90s D'Amato erotic romps. Think of this one as a slap in the face of real Italian horror films as it seems to actively reject all charms of even the weaker amongst the country's genre heyday. This is what happens when the Italians try to be an American horror film; instead of almost parodying riffs from popular American horror in their own unique way. 

The still gorgeous Laura Gemser (Laurette Gemser in the credits) also appears on-screen in a bit part as prostitute thrashing around on a bed while topless in a thong. Don't get too excited because the lighting is horrible and sequence lasts all but a few seconds. Her presence here is like being amidst a nightmare and seeing a close friend who's unresponsive to your pleas for help. Just like Troll 2, the Emanuelle in America actress acts as wardrobe designer, probably the best thing about Metamorphosis. Unless you find Imperial's 3D-cover VHS in great shape with working light-up eyes, it's best to avoid this complete waste of ninety-three minutes. Even if you do find one in that condition, for fuck's sake don't dare watch this mess. Any of the other films mentioned are so much more worthy of a look in comparison.
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