SHOCKING DARK (1989) Reviews and overview

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Shocking Dark is a 1989 Italian science-fiction film directed by Bruno Mattei (Snuff Trap; Rats: Night of Terror; The Other Hell; et al) from a screenplay by Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2). Produced by Franco Gaudenzi, the movie stars Christopher Ahrens, Haven Tyler and Geretta Geretta (sic).

It has also been released as Terminator IITerminator 2Aliens 2Aliennators, and Contaminator.

Although the film was promoted as an offshoot of James Cameron’s The Terminator, it is actually mostly a rip-off of Aliens, which was also directed by Cameron.


Venice, Italy. In the future, a team of Mega Force marines, a tough female civilian and an orphaned girl battle monsters beneath the Venice canals while being chased by an indestructible killer cyborg…


Shocking Dark is likely to cause confusion with even the most clued-up viewer, as it cheerfully rips off the big hitters of mid-80s science fiction cinema while throwing in typical Italian horror touches. Strangely though, despite coming from the bumbling team of Mattei, Fragasso and Drudi, and despite being a blatant imitation, the film is rather better than their usual output. Not, by any conventional means, good – yet not too bad that you feel like jamming a rusty nail into your brain rather than endure another minute. This is definitely a step up.

The film starts off by ripping off Aliens with such a lack of shame that the viewer almost wants to applaud. A group of marines, led by no-nonsense/annoying as f*ck (delete according to taste) Geretta Geretta of Demons fame, investigate and battle a hive of alien creatures. Because this is a low budget affair, the creatures are underneath an evacuated Venice rather than on some alien planet, but otherwise, all the elements are present and correct, including the little girl who they find and who knows all the secrets of the industrial complex that Mattei had got on the cheap and the slimy monsters who are both shockingly poor and oddly effective.

Mattei and his writers stretch this as far as it will go, before they run out of steam and turn it into The Terminator, with one of the marines revealed to be a cyborg who is one the side of an evil corporation, and who quickly dispatches the remaining marines that until this point he has been fighting alongside, and chases Geretta and the child through the Venice tunnels. It makes no sense at all, and the ending of the film is a real head-scratcher, although you’ll probably find yourself going with it because why the hell not?

Indeed, the whole ‘evil corporation running genocidal experiments, sending a military team in to clear it up and then trying to finish off the witnesses’ actually reminded me of Resident Evil more than Aliens. However, both the games and the films were over a decade away. Could it be that… no, that’s too silly an idea to even consider. Anyway, as late-entry Italian exploitation cinema goes, Shocking Dark is not too awful, as long as you don’t expect plot coherence, production values or any of the usual elements that quality movies require, and are prepared to simply sit back and revel in the enthusiastic lunacy of it all.

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

Shocking Dark doesn’t have much of a plot, at least not of the coherent variety, and it rips off movies that are much better. It also features lots and lots of shouting and some of the most hysterical line readings in the history of cinema. And there’s plenty of cheap, fun gore — it is a Bruno Mattei film after all.” Chris Coffel, Bloody Disgusting

Shocking Dark is just bat guano crazy a lot of the time, bolstered by hyperbolic line readings, lots of screaming, and a production design that is equal parts Ed Wood and not quite ready for prime time Star Trek: The Original Series.” Jeffrey Kauffman,

“Basically this is just an hour and a half of non-acting entities running around darkened corridors blowing mutants away with pump action shotguns and screaming incessantly […] Aliens, Terminators, shotguns, gore, absurdness and Bruno Mattei all together in one low budget shlockfest of awesome.” Cool Target

Shocking Dark’s biggest asset is its blatant plagiarism; if it didn’t hew so close to Cameron’s world it would be just another cheap knock off released at a time when the cinematic universe was littered with them. The film’s audacity sets it apart and gives it a sheen that others simply don’t have; the viewer has no choice but to compare, and the end result is a compulsion to praise it rather than admonish.” Scott Drebit, Daily Dead

“Don’t expect to see anything but men in gooey rubber suits menacing the cast, but there’s a charm to the effort that made me love these ugly suckers. Mattei doesn’t hold them back for the finale, either; these things are the xenomorphs of the film and they are shown often and, perhaps unwisely, in good lighting.” Anthony Arrigo, Dread Central

” …one must admire a movie which has the audacity to name a character “Samuel Fuller”. On the other hand, there’s some racist statements here which probably wouldn’t fly today. From the costumes to the locations to the acting to the dialogue, everything here is Grade-Z, but if you think that you’ve seen the bottom of the Italian barrel, prepare to be shocked.” Mike Long, DVD Sleuth

Buy Blu-ray:

“This isn’t a bloody or gory one but it does have tons of practical effects ranging from the creature suits to the prosthetics for the robot. The effects look awesome but the shotgun deaths did look like trash. Overall, Shocking Dark is shockingly entertaining. It does suffer from budget issues but it still hits the spot for those looking for 80s sci-fi action.” Horror Society

“Anyone familiar with Mattei and company should have a basic idea of what to expect here: stilted acting, nutty plot twists, lots of padding with actors roaming dark sets, and screaming. Lots and lots of screaming. The rubbery, Sid and Marty Krofft-style monsters are actually fun when they pop up and show more variety than you’d expect, and it actually becomes a fun game trying to catch every single lift from other movies…” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

Cast and characters:

  • Christopher Ahrens [as Cristofer Ahrens] … Samuel Fuller
  • Haven Tyler [as Geretta Giancarlo Field] … Doctor Sara Drumbull
  • Geretta Geretta … Koster – Demons
  • Fausto Lombardi [as Tony Lombardo]… Lieutentant Franzini
  • Mark Steinborn … Captain Dalton Bond
  • Dominica Coulson … Samantha Raphelson
  • Clive Riche [as Clive Ricke] … Drake
  • Paul Norman Allen … Kowalsky
  • Cortland Reilly … Caine
  • Richard Ross … Price
  • Bruce McFarland … Colonel Parson
  • Richard Berkeley [as Richard Bercheley] … First Scientist
  • John Champion … Second Scientist
  • Massimo Vanni [as Alex McBride]… First Soldier
  • Elain Richmond … Speaker


Until 2018, the film had never been released on video in the United States for legal reasons. However, it was been released on VHS in countries such as Japan, Brazil and Italy itself.

Severin Films released the film on Blu-ray on May 29, 2018.

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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