Producer/director Thomas Berna's film begins "Three Weeks Ago", at the Gendes Corporation. Trouble is afoot at this scientific laboratory, and it all seems to circulate around the development of a mysterious reagent capable of doing God-knows-what.

Jim (David Rommel), an office junior, works there with bespectacled wife Meredith (Anna Zizzo) but is also having an affair with co-worker Jenny (Joan Dinco) - arranging dates with her via post-its hidden in case files. Meredith is so busy in the labs testing the new reagent on rats that she doesn't realise what's going on literally under her nose.

But Jenny is getting possessive. That might have something to do with Jim continually telling her he's about to leave Meredith, while refusing to contact his lover for 10 days for fear of getting caught out by the wife.

Meredith's not stupid. She finds a post-it, studies the family home's latest credit card bills and hires a private eye to take photographs of Jim in compromising situations with Jenny. When she confronts him at home, he denies the entire fling: she responds by throwing a jar of reagent in his face.

Lying weasel Jim flees to Jenny's apartment, where he finds her reeling from just having narrowly escaped a mugging. He tells her that Meredith is out of town and so he can stay for the night. Jenny's feeling fragile, and is grateful for the attention from her lover (a ghastly sex scene follows) ... but strange things are happening to Jim.

The following morning, Jim feels even more peculiar. Jenny's too thick to realise it though and even when he's staggering around her kitchen asking for bacon and sausages, she simply points him in the right direction and leaves him to it. Eating them raw, that is.

To cut a long story short (for an 81-minute film, the exposition is somewhat drawn out), Jim returns to the lab and tries to get back with Meredith in order to find an antidote to the reagent. There isn't one, she gloats. Oops. This sequence culminates in an act reminiscent of the scene out the back of the club in BRAIN DAMAGE.

With strange noises in his head and a curious development in his stomach, Jim sets about feeding his new condition with equal amounts of salty foods and hot women. Well, as hot as a no-budget film can afford.

Poor Jenny, despite her sister Suzanne's (Susan Cane) misgivings, she's so completely in love with selfish toe-rag Jim that she continues their affair - but at what cost? Patrick Netteshelm's electronic score works well in evoking an 80s atmosphere to proceedings, mimicking the sci-fi-horror strains of Howard Shore's VIDEODROME soundtrack quite closely. This is entirely appropriate: the dim lighting and sparse sets of the laboratory can also be likened to Cronenberg's magnum opus, and the themes of the film (bodily mutations; infection through sexual intimacy) are indebted to the sick Canadian's best works.

Writer Robert Gursha clearly has a thing for Cronenberg. But there's also a huge nod towards BRAIN DAMAGE in here too (the feeding of the parasite; the aforementioned blowjob scene). The unfortunate thing about COLONY OF THE DARK, then, is that it doesn't possess the intelligence or wit of either influence; this is a rather one-dimensional monster film, and pretty slow-moving at that.

The gore is cheap but quite repellent at times, the creature FX (when they finally arrive) a tad murky and the sexual politics of the script are simply all over the place. It all becomes so episodic in the second half that all themes go out of the window.

The prevailing feel of COLONY OF THE DARK is that of a stupendously low-budget American horror film which, while nods to the above and other stuff such as BASKET CASE make parts of it endearing, is pretty shit.

At the end of the day, this film is probably only going to appeal to those who can appreciate the staggeringly bad acting from Rommel (he's brilliant in a perverse way) and the FX's poverty row attempts at recalling the early films of Frank Henenlotter. I have to say, against my better judgement and regardless of my criticisms above, that includes myself.

COLONY OF THE DARK is presented in 16x9 widescreen and looks pretty terrible from beginning to end. It's old VHS standard, with faded colours, lots of noise and blacks that waver throughout. Some of the night scenes are virtually unwatchable.

At least the English 2.0 audio track fares slightly better, with clear and clean dialogue and music channels.

The only extras on the disc are short trailers for CENTIPEDE HORROR (not the rip-off of THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE I'd assumed, but a centipedes-run-amuck flick which looks pretty hilarious), DEADTIME STORIES, LAST STOP ON 13TH STREET and the rather nifty-looking NAKED MADNESS.

The disc opens with a static main menu page which, for those like me who are unfamiliar with this film, delights with the sudden pop-up of a somewhat alarming key image from the film (again, a great Cronenberg/Henenlotter nod). Great stuff.

There is no scene-selection menu but the film has remote-access by way of 18 chapters.

COLONY OF THE DARK is rubbish and I feel guilty for recommending it. But, technical issues aside (both in regards to the film and the disc), I have to say I enjoyed it. For all the wrong reasons, granted.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Apprehensive Films
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review