Biotherapy (1986)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Herbert P. Caine is the pseudonym of a frustrated academic and genre movie fan in Pennsylvania. You can read his blog at

Biotherapy is a Japanese horror short from 1986 that takes full advantage of its short running time. Although it does not have much in the way of plot or characterization, it makes up for it with a fast pace, great special effects, and all the gore you could ask for in thirty-five minutes.

The short traces the horrible fates that befall a group of scientists working on “GT medicine,” a promising but still flawed chemical that induces exponential growth in those that consume it, similar to H. G. Wells’s Food of the Gods. The scientists find themselves being stalked by a mysterious masked man who emits a blue glow and murders them one by one while demanding a sample of the medicine. Does it have anything to do with the recent meteor shower, or is he just an addict ahead of the curve?

The film’s main selling points are its gruesome murders and excellent practical effects. The scientists’ pursuer is disturbingly creative in his means of killing, starting with an opening sequence where he tears out the lead scientist’s eye. Although obviously made on a low budget, the filmmakers squeeze every cent to present convincing effects for the masked killer’s murder spree. Although they are not as high tech as modern CGI, these “cheap” practical effects seem more realistic. The model body parts and fake blood have a sense of weight, having not been drawn on with a computer. Furthermore, even the corniest fake blood looks better than CGI blood, which has yet to capture the flow of an actual liquid splashing or spreading on the ground.

As stated at the beginning, Biochemistry’s script is pretty bare bones. None of the characters are fleshed out, and the villain’s motives and actions are at times confusing. The script also relies on the occasional deus ex machina to help out its characters. However, it makes up for these flaws with a fast pace that keeps the plot moving and prevents you from thinking too much about lapses in logic.

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