Shocking Dark (1989)

“Venice before the year 2000. Squares, museums and churches. Tourists crowd the streets. Venice is threatened by the high tide. The seaweed is killing the oxygen in the waters and the putrid waters are corroding the foundations of the city. This is Venice today. What will happen tomorrow?”

Say what you will about Bruno Mattei, but the dude knows how to grab you from the first frame of travelogue footage!

The film starts in a control room, where a bunch of dudes in grey and yellow futuristic jumpsuits watch a research base and most of Venice fall into chaos, as one guy keeps screaming that there are mutants everywhere. There are no survivors, just chunks of videotape that they watch.

Basically, if this feels more like Aliens than the Terminator rip-off you were expecting, buckle the fuck up. While this movie was released as Terminator 2, Mattei and his cohorts Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi, who activated their Wonder Twin powers of insanity to create Troll 2, refuse to stop at covering one film. Oh no — this movie is too strange for that.

They decide to assemble a team — the Mega Force! — to investigate and they bring Sara, a scientist, along to find the diary that has the answers to this breakout. Samuel Fuller from the Tubular Corporation asks to come along, just like Bishop. The fact that two of the members of the team are Geretta Geretta and Tony Lombardo from Rats: Nights of Terror are all the reason I needed to purchase this. The even more amazing fact that Geretta is playing a tribute version of Vasquez from Aliens is the icing on this slice of exploitation tiramisu.

Geretta’s first line is “Alright you bunch of pussies, I’m back and I’m kicking ass!” Then, we watch one of the kinda sorta Space Marines on Operation: Delta Venice practice his nunchakus with his back to the camera. Come on dude — work the hard cam. Also: the Mega Force’s base looks like a high school locker room. Also also: they are not Megaforce.

There’s a member of the Mega Force that has long blonde hair and wears Oakley glasses and a red bandana. I love him already. Geretta’s character, Koster, then starts to yell about Italians being allowed on the mission and gets into a racially motivated fight with another crew member. Mega Force! Get it together!

If you haven’t picked it up yet, I love this fucking movie. This is why I watch Italian low budget genre films all wrapped up in one messy package. The acting is either way too intense or has stilted line readings, sometimes within the same sentence. The costumes are laughable. And the action is everything you wish there was more of in other films without pesky things like character development and a plot to get in the way.

Every time I worry that I’ll never find a film like 2019: After the Fall of New York or 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Italian filmmakers surprise me with something wonderful. All you need are some vests, bike helmets and soccer pads and a fancy synth score and you have a futuristic army ready to do battle with whatever the hell the bad guys in this movie are.

The Mega Force finds a bunch of people inside the alien eggs, but those people beg to be killed before grabbing and choking Koster. Soon, the aliens or mutants or whatever they are decide to throw people around and kill everything in their path. If you love movies where people fall to their deaths, this should be in your collection.

If you thought there wouldn’t be a Newt character, you aren’t watching much Italian cinema. Yep — in the midst of all this craziness, a small child has survived.

The best scene in the film has the soldiers all trapped in a room and the scientist vainly trying to open the door by pushing the left button. Clearly, there is a button on the right, too. She ignores this and keeps jamming the left button like someone trying to make the elevator get there faster. Finally, after screaming, monsters blowing up and much death, someone finally tells this brilliant scientist to just push the button on the right. Holy shit — this movie is awesome.

I have learned many things from this movie. No matter what language you speak, your scream sounds pretty much universal. You can fire a Franchi SPAS-12 one-handed and accurately hit a target. And while I previously was taught that seaweed is really algae and algae helps provide much of the Earth’s oxygen, in the world of this film this is not true. Basically — fuck science!

I wonder — was Samuel Fuller named for the director? Why is Venice the center of the world? And why, when I knew this was also called Terminator 2, was I so surprised and elated that the Bishop character was also a Terminator?

Finally, the ending — if you think that they’re not gonna get time travel somewhere in this wedding soup…just wow.

If you come to a party at my house in the next few months, chances are that you will be forced to watch this movie while I scream like a maniac and laugh my ass off. You have no choice but to comply.

Of course, Severin put this out. Grab one now — don’t delay!

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3 thoughts on “Shocking Dark (1989)”

  1. […] Director Claudio Fragasso refers to this film as the “last gasp” of Italian zombie movies. If you’re expecting Zombi, well, let’s not forget the movies that Claudio has blessed us with, both by himself and with Bruno Mattei: Beyond Darkness/La Casa 5, Troll 2, RoboWar, Rats: Night of Terror, The Other Hell and Shocking Dark. […]

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