Blu-ray Review: SHOCKING DARK

SHOCKING DARK (aka Terminator 2 and Alienators) was directed by Bruno Mattei from a screenplay by Claudio Fragasso & Rossella Drudi and stars Haven Tyler, Geretta Geretta, Fausto Lombardo, Christopher Ahrens, Bruce McFarland and Dominica Coulson.

In this bravura rip-off of both ALIENS and TERMINATOR, a team of badass marines, a tough female civilian and an orphaned girl battle monsters beneath the Venice canals while being chased by an indestructible killer cyborg. Have we mentioned the overwrought dialogue, over-the-top performances and ultimate WTF? twist ending?

This 1989 schlockfest sci-fi horror ripoff takes place in the year 2000 where researchers have been trying to solve the toxic deterioration of Venice. The movie follows an elite team of soldiers and a couple of civilians who are sent in to investigate the mysterious deaths of the scientists who were trying to clean the polluted waters in hopes to improve the living conditions of this futuristic wasteland. Once they set out on their investigation, they begin to encounter hordes of mutated creatures that are a result of what’s been going on. The investigation turns into a fight for survival between the small group of humans and their attackers and if that’s not enough one of their own ends up turning on them because there’s another sinister agenda that’s ultimately introduced into the mix.

Okay and OMG! There’s the Tubular Corporation that’s kind of the two-faced monster behind this big mess. Think of them as a minor league Weyland-Yutani Corporation. The Mega Force is nothing more than a cheap ripoff of the Colonial Marines from Aliens. If that’s not enough we have Koster (Geretta Geretta) who channels her best Vasquez and Franzini (Fausto Lombardi) who channels his best Hudson – and these two continuously go at it to the point I thought they might make out. Anyway, there’s also Dr. Sara Drumball (Haven Tyler) aka the Ripley of the story and Samantha (Dominica Coulson) who would be called Newt if this was that other sci-fi movie. The curveball in Shocking Dark comes courtesy of Samuel Fuller (Christopher Ahrens), the shady member of this group who ends up being full of technological surprises and the main antagonist of the story. Sure, the monsters are bad and all but this cat is really up to no good.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. This Severin release comes in a black keepcase which helps it stand out from the others. The Blu-ray disc also features some matching artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The film has been given a brand new 2K scan by Severin Films from the Director’s Cut negative that was discovered in a Rome lab vault. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition upgrade were really good. There’s a little print distortion here and there (especially in the opening scene) that’s due to the age and obscurity of the movie but it’s nothing bad at all. Honestly, I didn’t have any major issues with the video and audio for this Blu-ray release.

Bottom line is, I had a blast checking out Shocking Dark which ended up being another first time watch for me even it’s a movie that I’ve heard so much about over the years. Yep, it’s a definite ripoff of Aliens and Terminator but mostly Aliens. You can tell that it’s a low budget production, from the old makeshift plant location, to the super cheap uniforms that the super cheesy Mega Force soldiers sport, to the cheap makeup effects that include rubber suit creatures that look like some sort of twisted offspring between Cthulhu and Swamp Thing. I can’t leave out the time traveling element either because it’s in there. Needless to say, this eurosleeze schlockfest by Bruno Mattei is one of those “so bad it’s good” offerings that has garnered its infamous reputation and fan base over the years but has always eluded the U.S. until now. Severin Films was brave enough to take on this mission and has given the movie a really nice 2K scan for its long overdue debut when it finally releases on Blu-ray in the U.S. on May 29th. If you’ve never seen this one before then you are in for a treat.

Distributor: Severin Films

Run Time: 90 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78.1 )

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 / Italian, German, Spanish and Chinese Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: N/A

Special Features: The extras include two new interviews, the alternate Italian titles and the original trailer for the movie.

  • Terminator in Venice – An Interview with Co-Director / Co-Screenwriters Claudio Fragasso and Co-Screenwriter Rossella Drudi (13:14)
  • Once Upon A Time in Italy – An Interview With Actress Geretta Geretta (12:44)
  • Alternate Italian Titles (01:44)
  • Trailer (01:22)



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