Friday, April 27, 2012

Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1990)

In 1983, a group of  kids got together, and made a little movie called "The Deadly Spawn" for a mere $25,000. It found brief life in drive-in and grindhouse theaters before hitting VHS, where several distribution companies got a hold of it and unfortunately, most of those behind it didn't get a dime. However, producer Ted A. Bohus wasn't deterred, and got ready for a bigger budget sequel that was originally called "The Deadly Spawn 2: Metamorphosis", but changed it's name to "Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor." Interestingly enough, the end result has little if anything to do with the first movie, and more resembles a straight to video rip-off of Carpenter's "The Thing" (even paying homage to it at one point), a Corman vehicle from this time, and a bigger budget version of a Don Dohler movie ironically enough called "The Alien Factor."

When an alien being bites Dr. John Griffen (Matt Kulis), he begins to change into something else. Something that's definitely not human, and is deadly to boot. When his daughters Sherry (Tara Leigh) and Kim (Dianna Flaherty) try to find out what happened to their father, they find out that he now resembles this:

          "Isn't She Lovely?"

And he's not too happy about that for some weird reason. Oh, and Dr.Viallini (Marcus Powell) doesn't want the thing to be known by the authorities.

Though a serviceable bit of schlocky hokum, "Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor" does have it's share of flaws. For starters, nobody here is a particularly good actor, with much of the cast being either inexperienced  or just not particularly talented enough to carry the film. Also, while there's some gore, you aren't going to get as much pleasing splatter as you did in "The Deadly Spawn." Interestingly enough, the bigger budget actually does become a problem. Whereas the tiny budget in the prior film was part of it's charm, the larger one here makes it resemble what it ultimately is: an unspectacular straight-to-video horror movie.

However, that doesn't mean that it's a bad movie. For one thing, it's clear that director Glenn Takakjian knows that the creature effects are the real stars here, and they're great. A mix of puppetry, anamatronics and stop-motion animation, they really come to life in the film, and are especially a reason for celebration once John Griffen starts to change. I also really liked the synthesizer heavy score by John Gray, which mixes eerie passages with those that bring in some much needed humor and personality. Speaking of which, by the second half, the movie picks up, with a noticeable sense of humor showing up that thankfully never becomes intrusive or forced. Oh, and the ending is a nice little nod to the conclusion in "The Deadly Spawn."

At the end of the day, this isn't going to win a lot of high accolades, and it probably isn't the sequel fans were expecting. However, if you long for movies like "Syngenor", then you might enjoy this. Just don't expect to be bowled over.

Rating: 6/10

*These days, Takakjian does animation and effects for shows like "Modern Marvels," and works as an actor and writer for the show "Adventures of the Superseven." He got his start though, as a member of the effects crew for "The Deadly Spawn."

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