This is the fifth unofficial sequel we’ve covered; as well as two truly miserable “Night Of The Living Dead” efforts, we’ve also reviewed “Alien 2: On Earth” and “Savage Vengeance”, which was originally going to be released as “I Spit On Your Grave 2” before Donald Farmer got sued. While this is aka “Terminator 2”, a name it was released under in many countries, it hews a great deal closer to another famous film of the 1980s; more on that later.
Post-apocalyptic Venice is the location for this…well, some tunnels under Venice, I should say. A poison cloud (I think that’s the excuse they gave) has caused people to go crazy and mutate, so the authorities send in Mega-Force to save the day and rescue the notes of a scientist who had his base right under the cloud. This, sadly, isn’t the same Mega-Force as was featured in the 1982 classic of the same name, but this group differentiate themselves by absolutely going crazy for ethnic slurs – memorably, when the hard-ass woman insults the Italian member of the team with “wop” and other such gems, despite them, y’know, being in Italy and all. The Tubular Corporation is your generic evil corporation in this, and they send a rep too.
I’m wondering how long I can go without the big reveal. Just a little further. The spectacularly wooden group of actors wander through the tunnels for a bit, only to start getting picked off by a pretty ugly fish-monster-looking thing. “Hold on,” you might say at this point, “isn’t this also known as Terminator 2? Why is the monster a giant walking fish? And why does that webbing they’re storing the humans in look familiar?”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this could be the most copyright-flouting movie ever. I’ll recap the story (it’s on Youtube, definitely watch it if you don’t want it “spoiling”) and see how quickly you spot it. A group of marines is forced to take a non-soldier along on a mission – a woman with curly auburn hair. They encounter a creature which doesn’t kill them immediately, but takes them away and stores them in a gooey webbing, where they beg to be killed. They rescue a small girl who’s survived in the hostile environment for some time. The soldiers have radar trackers, and at one point they’re detecting signals from monsters who should be in the room with them, they’re so close. The corporation representative tries to trap the female and the kid in a room with the monster, and turns the camera off so no-one knows what he’s doing. While setting off the base’s self-destruct mechanism, the woman gives the girl a wristband that will allow her to be tracked, seconds before she falls down a long slide and out of sight.
Okay, the ending is way, way out of left field, but an absolutely enormous amount of “Shocking Dark” is a very close ripoff of “Aliens”. The paragraph above even misses some stuff out – my notes feature the line “OKAY, WE GET IT, YOU’RE RIPPING OFF ALIENS”, underlined several times as yet more direct lifts were wheeled out onto the screen. There’s a ton of very similar dialogue too, almost word-for-word in some segments, and I’m quite surprised they never got sued.
Because it’s set on Earth, the plot isn’t about trapping an alien, it’s about rescuing an experiment, which is some DNA-like substance which can mutate people or turn them into “androids” or something. Who cares? The scientists are the people who turned into the monsters, I guess. There’s a great scene near the end where a video from Tubular plays, with their CEO laying out their entire evil plan, with a quick “if you’re watching this, please don’t tell anyone” at the end.
Because this is Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso at work, it’s not just a normal movie, though. The “Newt” character (I nearly just wrote “Newt”, which is an indication of how similar they are) is about 15 years old, which is why it stretches credulity when she’s seemingly unable to move to protect herself. After rushing around like mad, they suddenly grind to a halt and just walk round really slowly, despite the base being minutes from detonating. The same two chuffing corridors are used over and over again. The weird thing is, your brain sort of fills in the blanks from the more famous movie, so this was rather entertaining, despite its high amount of lunacy. The only really terrible technical flaw was sound, but we can let them off with that.
It’s the ending which really delights, though. 100% spoilers from this point on, but it’s a Youtube Film Club review, so you have no excuse. It turns out the Burke character is a Terminator! He chases them round a bit, and the weird thing is he never fights any of the monsters, which would have been fun to see. And then…I can’t quite believe I’m writing this…they find a Tubular Corporation time machine and go back to present day Venice. No-one seems all that surprised that this technology exists, which is cool, and in a “we almost predicted the plot of the actual Terminator 2”, they get followed back by the Terminator. Rather than hanging around to give the corporation his technology, thus giving them a head-start on destroying the world, they just throw the time machine remote control at him, sending him back to the future. Those two ladies have a world to save!
The main lady, Dr Sarah Drumbull, is played by a Haven Tyler, for whom this was her only film role. The rest of the cast have sterling resumes full of “bodyguard” and “goon no.2” roles, which is a shame as Mattei’s films usually have at least one or two half-decent actors in. Talking of Mattei, this movie represents the end of his and Fragasso’s working relationship. Noooo! Don’t worry, though, we still have a few films of theirs left to review – I hope you’re watching along too, because this stuff is gold.
Rating: thumbs up