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Contamination – Arrow Video USA (BluRay / DVD Combo) 
Written by: on July 4th, 2015

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1980
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Writers: Luigi Cozzi, Erich Tomek
Cast: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Masé, Siegfried Rauch, Gisela Hahn, Carlo De Mejo, Carlo Monni

BluRay released: July 6th, 2015 (UK) / July 7th, 2015 (USA)
Approximate running times: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR (USA) / 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
Subtitles: English, English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)

Synopsis: Red flags are raised when a ship arrives in port with no survivors and the only sign of life on the ship are alien pods that ate prone to explode and release flesh dissolving fluids. Wanting to know more about the alien Pods the government puts together a team which includes a former astronaut who had seen these alien pods before while he was on Mars. And when it is discovered that the alien pods came from South America. The Government then send in their team of experts to exterminate the alien pods once and for all.

Contamination was co-written and directed by Luigi Cozzi whose other notable films as a director include, The Killer Must Kill Again, Starcrash and a pair of Hercules remakes. Before becoming a director Cozzi also worked on Dario Argento’s The Cat o’ Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet. Key collaborators on Contamination include screenwriter Erich Tomek (Bloody Moon, Linda), cinematographer Giuseppe Pinori (Murder Rock) and composers Goblin (Deep Red, Suspiria).

Content wise, Contamination is clearly a product of its times as it borrows liberally from films like Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And such mimicry of successful Hollywood films had long been a staple of Italian cinema. By the time that Contamination was released this way of making films was already in decline as Hollywood began to make their own ‘B’ product, instead of importing it.

Another area where Contamination often comes up short is when it comes to executing ideas that have been appropriated from those aforementioned films. For instance watching someone’s chest explode should make those who are watching this moment uneasy and at least slightly frightened. Instead such gut busting moments are prone to evoke laughter at how absurd said moment comes off due to poor execution.

Needless to say trying to make sense of what is unfolding onscreen quickly proves to be futile matter. Also if one is determined to watch this film to its bitter end. Then there really is only one plan of action, turn off your mind and embrace the chaos.

Don’t Count Your Eggs Before they’ve hatched…

Fortunately all is not lost as the film’s anemic narrative moves along rather briskly and there is rarely enough time to dwell on the things that don’t gel that well. Another area where the film surprises and can be a lot of fun is its unintentional humor. With no scene more epitomizing the side splitting humor that runs rampant throughout. Said scene involves a woman who was taking a shower and discovers that she is locked in the bathroom with one of the Alien Pods.

Performance wise the majority of the cast are best described as adequate. With the only performance that leaves any lasting impression being Ian McCulloch (Zombie, Zombie Holocaust) in the role of an alcoholic former astronaut Ian Hubbard. Ultimately Contamination is a grade ‘A’ example of shlock cinema.

The BluRay:

Contamination comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This is well authored disc that does a remarkable job with the limitations of the source materials. Also when compared to Blue Underground’s DVD release this new transfer is a marked improvement in every way, especially in regards to image clarity, contrast and black levels and shadow detail. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural.

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Sound effects and other ambient noises are well represented. Also dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and most importantly Goblin’s score sound’s robust. There are two subtitle options, English SDH subtitles for the English language track and English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras for this release include, a graphic novel based on the original screenplay, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 14 seconds – 1080 Progressive), two featurettes, the first featurette titled ‘Sound of the Cyclops: Maurizio Guarini on the music of Contamination’ (11 minutes 31 seconds – 1080 Progressive) and the second featurette titled ‘Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery: a Critical Analysis of the Italian Cash-in’ (17 minutes 26 seconds – 1080 Progressive), an archive documentary titled ‘Notes on Fantasy Cinema’ (22 minutes 55 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), a brand new career spanning interview with director Luigi Cozzi titled ‘Luigi Cozzi vs. Lewis Coates’ (42 minutes 53 seconds – 1080 Progressive, in Italian with English subtitles), a Q&A from 2014 with Luigi Cozzi and actor Ian McCulloch (41 minutes 5 seconds – 1080 Progressive) and an audio commentary with Fangoria editor Chris Alexander.

Topics discussed in the featurette titled ‘Sound of the Cyclops: Maurizio Guarini on the music of Contamination’ include the film’s score. Besides the score for Contamination, he discusses how he briefly replaced Claudio Simonetti who left Goblin after Deep Red and how he left Goblin due to a disagreement while composing Suspiria, only to return again in 1978. Of course he would return to Goblin for the scoring of Contamination and since then he has continued off and on to work with Goblin ever since.

The featurette titled ‘Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery: a Critical Analysis of the Italian Cash-in’ gives a concise overview how the Italian film industry thrived for several decades by cashing in on whatever was popular in Hollywood at the time.

Topics discussed in the extra titled ‘Notes on Fantasy Cinema’ include, his writing process and how he finds inspiration, Ridley Scott’s Alien and how it serves as the starting point for what would eventually become Contamination, other inspirations that influences Contamination, how actors had to be very prepared due to the difficulty of filming some scenes, special effects, locations and other production related topics are also touched upon.

As mentioned before the new interview is a career spanning interview and in regards to Contamination the discussing is limited to talking about the monster at the end of the film and how he made it appear more menacing. He spends the first half of this extra talking about his fondness of Science Fiction and how his work as an author and editor lead to him meeting directors like Mario Bava and Antonio Margheriti. From there he talks about how he got into cinema, his collaborations with Dario Argento and various other films that he worked on.

Topics discussed in the Q&A include, the origins of Contamination and how the film’s producer came up with the title for the film, Ian McCulloch reveals how he got involved with this film, how the film was shoot in five weeks in Colombia, Rome and New York, how Colombia drug money helped fund the film, the cast, Ian McCulloch talks about a very short man that broke into his hotel room and how he narrowly escape his violent attack, they also discuss the legacy of the film and how it continues to remain popular thirty five years after its initial release, how Contamination made England’s Video Nasties list, Goblin’s score, dubbing in Italian cinema and the possibility of the Cozzi and McCulloch collaborating on another film.

The audio commentary track with Chris Alexander is a lively track that does a good job balancing information about the film and his enthusiasm for this film.

Rounding out the extras is a slipcover, reversible cover art option and a twenty four page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay about the film titled ’35 years of Contamination’ written by Chris Alexander and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Contamination gets a definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.

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