‘They invade your body… control your mind… blow you apart!’
Contamination – also known as Alien Contamination, Contamination: Alien on Earth and Toxic Spawn – is a 1980 Italian/German science fiction horror film directed by Luigi Cozzi (Paganini Horror; The Black Cat; The Killer Must Kill Again) from a screenplay co-written with Erich Tomek (Bloody Moon; Dracula Blows His Cool).
The film stars Ian McCulloch (Zombie Flesh Eaters; The Ghoul), Louise Marleau (The Possession of Virginia) and Marino Masé (Play Motel; The Red Queen Kills Seven Times). Progressive rock band Goblin (Deep Red) provided the score.
A large ship drifts into New York Harbour, seemingly abandoned. The ship is discovered to be carrying large containers of coffee, hidden inside of which are a series of football-sized green eggs. The crew sent in to explore the ghost ship finds the mutilated remains of the former crew gathered in one place, and they soon discover the reason why: when disturbed, the green eggs explode, spraying a viscous liquid over everything. The liquid is toxic to living creatures and causes the body to immediately explode.
The military’s answer to this phenomenon is Colonel Stella Holmes (Marleau). She establishes a link between the green eggs and a recent mission to Mars that ended badly for the two astronauts who descended to the planet. One of them disappeared, and the other, Commander Hubbard (McCulloch), had a breakdown and subsequently became an alcoholic.
When pressed, Hubbard agrees to help Holmes in her investigation of the insidious plot to bring the deadly eggs to Manhattan, and it takes them, along with sarcastic New York cop Tony Aris (Masé), to a Colombian coffee plantation. All is not as it seems; Hubbard’s former astronaut colleague is apparently alive and well and living under the influence of a monstrous alien cyclops, which is using mind control to further its plot to flood the world with the green eggs and wipe out human life on Earth…
After the passing of the UK’s Video Recordings Act, Contamination was classed as a so-called ‘video nasty’. Specifically, the film includes graphic depictions of human bodies exploding violently in slow motion, as well as the grisly remains of such explosions. While the explosion effects are not technically graphic (each of the exploding victims is encased in some kind of bulky costume that is obviously hiding the mechanism that sprays the gore), they are extremely bloody. Perhaps more distressingly, from a British point of view, a mouse also seemingly erupts in a splattery manner.
After the success of his Star Wars-inspired Starcrash, Luigi Cozzi wanted to follow it up with another science fiction film. On seeing Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien his producer decided he wanted Cozzi to make something similar. Due to budgetary constraints, Cozzi decided to set the film on Earth, although retaining the ideas of the alien eggs and a large creature from Scott’s film, and duly wrote a script titled Alien Arrives on Earth.
On 29th June 2015, Contamination was released on Blu-ray + DVD by Arrow Video with following special features:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- 2014 Q&A with Cozzi and star Ian McCulloch, recorded at Abertoir Film Festival
- Luigi Cozzi on the Creation of Contamination an archive documentary hosted by the director and including behind-the-scenes footage
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film, illustrated with original archive stills and posters
The film’s production offices were in the same building as Fulvia Film, the makers of Zombi 2 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters and, impressed by the profits that film had made, Cozzi decided to try to hire the same cast members, although ultimately Ian McCulloch was the only actor to come on board. Cozzi had wanted to use Caroline Munro (who had starred in the aforementioned Starcrash) as Colonel Holmes but once again the producer overruled him and hired an older actress, Louise Marleau, instead.
“Contamination is a really bad movie — and I’m not talking ‘cool bad’, either. The moody, sci-fi flavored score by Goblin (with some passages containing distinctly Pink Floyd-sounding bass licks) can’t elevate the wretched scenes it accompanies. The script, rife with incredibly stupid and hackneyed dialog, is simply pathetic.” Eccentric Cinema
“Cozzi is a talented director and they’re only part of the reason Contamination is so much fun. To Luigi’s eternal credit he sustains viewer interest, even when someone isn’t blowin’ up, through good use of the scenic tropical vistas and several humorous character asides (with some of the goofiest dialogue this side of Cannibal Apocalypse). The cast is definitely up to the challenge, remaining straight-faced no matter how ridiculous a situation they find themselves in, plus it’s always nice to see the underused Ian McCulloch chewing up the scenery.” Mondo Digital
“A sloppy, squishy attempt to cash-in on the success of Alien, this one nevertheless earns extra points for its generous buckets of yucky slime.” Videohound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics
Cast and characters:
Ian McCulloch … Commander Ian Hubbard
Louise Marleau … Colonel Stella Holmes
Marino Masé … NYPD Lt. Tony Aris
Siegfried Rauch … Hamilton
Gisela Hahn … Perla de la Cruz
Carlo De Mejo … Agent Young
Carlo Monni … Doctor Turner
Nat Bush … Warehouse Guard (uncredited)
Ettore Martini … General (uncredited)
Mike Morris … Doctor Hilton (uncredited)
Angelo Ragusa … Warehouse Man (uncredited)
Martin Sorrentino … Black Warehouse Worker (uncredited)
Brigitte Wagner … Doctor (uncredited)
Contamination was filmed in eight weeks between 14th January and 4th March 1980. The shooting schedule included three weeks in Rome and then a further two weeks split between location shooting in New York City, Florida and Colombia.