Shocking Dark (1990)

Venice before the year 2000 is a beautiful city of canals, museums and other neat stuff. I’m guessing the Venice after 2000 is pretty much the same since I haven’t heard anything in the news about it sinking or anything. But what about the Venice of tomorrow? That Venice is a post-apocalyptic nightmare!

Closed off from the world, that Venice is a dead city, the entrance guarded by three guys in gas masks standing in front of a “do not enter” sign! What could have happened to the Venice of tomorrow that it turned from the city of lovers (or whatever it was) into the city of hazmat suits? It was something about seaweed choking out all the oxygen. Pretty much the usual end of the world stuff from the Italians. I’m sure it made sense to them.

From that nifty set up, I was surprised that a mystery movie began to play out. At least I thought it was a mystery movie. I mean, I spent the next thirty minutes trying to figure out what was happening!

Let’s see, we’ve got some scientists that have gone crazy in some tunnels under the city and if that wasn’t bad enough, they’re getting killed by monsters! If it’s not one thing, it’s another!

Then there’s this special team of marines called the Megaforce whose mission is to find out what happened to the scientists that went crazy. And it just isn’t Megaforce going on the mission There’s a scientist named Sara and a robot-like guy named Samuel Fuller who works for the Tubular Corporation.

The Tubular Corporation is a big multinational that built the tunnel between Venice and the outside world. Since there’s absolutely no reason for Sam to go along on this trip, it’s clear that Tubular is an evil company and that Sam will have to doublecross everyone. And since Sara befriends the daughter of one of the missing scientists later on, it’s clear that she and her kid will end up facing off against the evil Sam later on.

And if you are a fan of films where people just wander around corridors alternately shouting and shooting, you will love this freaking movie! The entire thing was shot in the bowels of a big power plant. Exposed pipes, wrought-iron stairs, platforms, railings, hissing steam and the occasional research lab are the order of the day in Shocking Dark.

Throw in some guys in slimy rubber monster suits and Megaforce constantly checking their scanners to track each other and the monsters and you got Alien set in your local electric company’s basement! But with like ten times more monsters!

If you’re still awake by the time they hit the lab, you’ll learn of some diabolical scheme by Tubular to poison Venice for two years so that they can re-sell all the real estate and valuable works of art that they’ve somehow gained ownership of for “70% of current value!” I love an Italian sci-fi/horror/post-apocalyptic movie that hinges on re-sell value!

But just when it seems as if Tubular’s real estate scheme and art auction plans appears to be the most dastardly of all schemes, the robot-like Sam is revealed to be a robot! And even worse, he’s gone and initiated the self-destruct sequence! On what, I have no idea, but we are assured that whatever is going to self-destruct is going to blow up everything real good and spread the enzyme that has created the monsters all over the Earth!

It doesn’t seem to bother Sam that this latest scheme will probably make it tough for Tubular to peddle all their Renoirs and Matisses, but what do you expect from a bucket of bolts who matter-of-factly announces that this new enzyme that’s created these monsters is just like a floppy disk and that humans are the computer! Thank God most of us don’t come with floppy drives anymore!

As preternaturally dull as most of all this was, I never wavered in my faith that somehow director Bruno Mattei (Rats: Night of Terror) would find a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. And he did because despite Tubular Corp.’s plans to corner the Venetian real estate market, despite their research into monster-making enzymes/floppy disks, despite being able to design killer cyborgs who uncannily mimic wooden actors, they also found time to work on a little something called the Tubular Time Pod!

Sara and her kiddie friend accidentally find themselves inside the time pod and thrust back into the past, thus averting certain death in the future!

But wait! There wasn’t just one time pod! Oh no! There were TWO! And guess who hitched a ride in time pod number two? The Terminator! I mean Sam!

And wouldn’t you know it, but his time pod thrusts him into the exact same moment and location in the past as Sara! What are the odds of that happening with two experimental Tubular Time Pods? As it played out, about 1:1.

Remember in The Terminator when a killer cyborg from the future menaced a woman named Sarah? And remember that one scene where they showed the Terminator running over a child’s toy truck? Well in this movie, a killer cyborg from the future is menacing a woman named Sara and the cyborg steps on a child’s remote control car! It’s really more of an homage than naked thievery. Besides, when they were calling this movie Terminator II back when it came out in 1990, that was a whole year before James Cameron’s Terminator II: Judgment Day!

It’s almost like Mattei and scripter Claudio Fragasso (Strike Commando, Troll 2) knew how good they were and were challenging themselves by having Shocking Dark sit there like an ignored dog turd on your living room floor for an hour and then just flipped the schlock switch and went to town on us! And how impressive was it that they managed this without Reb Brown or a jungle location?

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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