Metamorphosis

Brundlelizard
★★
☆☆☆☆
Released: 
1990
Director: 
George Eastman
Starring: 
Gene LeBrock, Catherina Barabov, Harry Cason, Anna Colonna
The Setup: 
Guy does experiments on himself which turns him into lizard-beast.
Discussion: 

From the continuing glory of my 50 Chilling Classics set comes this thing, from the comparatively late date of 1990. And it SOOO seems 1990. The movies on this set are rather good for those times where you just want to watch a half hour of something before you go to bed or while exercising, and you know that a better-made movie would involve more attention and more time.

We begin with an out-of-focus image and this strange thudding and eerie cries—before we realize it is the sound of people playing basketball, and those eerie cries are their sneakers on the polished floor. So, reasonably clever. I’m on board.

Then we meet Sally, who is coming to this university to investigate the work of Peter, this hotshot scientist whose work is so important that up until now he gets all the funding he wants and no one is permitted to ask any questions. Sally sees him on the basketball court, sensuously drying his sweaty face, and you know that something is stirring. Paul looks more than a bit like Christian Bale.

So Paul goes to teach his class, where some blonde woman is in the front row constabtly adjusting her skirt to try to make him loose his cool. Her name is Patricia or something like that. He calls her on acting like a tramp in class and she cuts it out—for now. Gotta love Patricia.

But before we can have more Patricia we need to establish some sort of storyline. Seems that Dr. Paul is experimenting with keeping people young, which involves injecting monkeys directly in the eyeball. But his work has started to draw the attention of the board, who want to know exactly what he’s up to. Sally is leading the charge, yet somehow he doesn’t blame her. “How was lunch [with the board]?” he asks. “You were the main course,” she replies. “They served you up with every possible sauce.”

So that night he goes to his lab and injects himself in the eye. Then he goes over to see Sally, who is just arriving home, and seems less than thrilled to have to deal with him. “I injected myself,” he says. “I said you’d be the first to know.” “Can’t we talk about this tomorrow?” “I did the experiment on myself!” he says. “That’s terrific. I’m really happy for you.” Then she invites him in, we meet her silent yet somehow obnoxious little brat, and then she and Paul enjoy some sensuous, blue-light lovemaking while the cheese-a-riffic 90s synth score plays “blue-light lovemaking” music.

Now let’s get back to Patricia in her finest hour. After class, she saunters up to the professor and hands him her address. “I’m having a party and I’m hoping you can come.” “When?” he asks. “Any day. Any time you like.” Go, Patrissa! There just aren’t enough flagrant sluts these days.

But the doc has been busy on his own. One day in the lab he looks at a bunny and remembers that he raped and brutalized some woman the night before. How could that have slipped his mind? He also exhibits unusual flashes of anger and feats of strength. That night the guard at the lab insists—quite jarringly and insistently, to ensure that we all get the exposition—that the doctor had come to the lab twice the evening before. The doc only remembers coming once. Ominous! Then he goes to this bar, which, between the guy at the pool table cruising him pretty hard and then the various guys with mustaches and lookin’ all Colt, I’m like, is he supposed to be at a gay bar? Ultimately I don’t think so, but the evidence is quite compelling. Anyway, so then this woman behind the bar freaks out and attacks, and he is held by all the guys who beat him up, as apparently he was there the night before, and the woman is the woman he raped and beat up the night before. But now he has super-strength and stuff, so he escapes.

Then his nerdy friend is trying to call him at home, and is apparently doing nothing but sitting on the phone, calling, as the phone does not stop ringing for HOURS. And our idiot hero doesn’t think to just unplug it. Anyway, so he starts having green eyes, like the Hulk, and he goes to visit the nerd friend who has been calling for hours, who drives this shitty compact car EXACTLY like the one I had for my last years of college—oh, it brought back bad memories seeing THAT again—and he wants his friend to break him into the lab so he can try the experiments again. So he gives himself another eye injection, gets green-eye again [I guess you could say he’s the green-eyed monster], and escapes the lab. Meanwhile the lab directors or whoever are getting more and more upset.

So Paul goes over to Patricia’s house [presumably for the ‘party’], only to find that, once more, apparently he’s already been there, and has already raped and beat the shit out of her. The scene that follows was pretty sadistic, as there is a long build-up where the excitement the audience is offered is in ticking off the time before Patricia [who is already quite badly bruised] is abused again. Hmmm, so that’s not very nice.

Anyway, so it seems that what happened is that he aged 50 years all at once, which is supposed to be ironic since he was inventing an anti-aging serum. I don’t see how aging 50 years at once would give you green eye and super-strength, but maybe they’ve invented a new Geritol. So he finds Sally and—you know that scene out of the Cronenberg Fly where he talks to her about “insect politics” and how he will hurt her if she stays? That ENTIRE scene is recreated virtually in its entirety here, complete with her realizing he’s not who he is anymore and could harm her, this whole treatment as though they’ve had this great tragic romance [they’ve only met a few days ago and boinked once], and her slowly backing off, then turning and running while crying. I mean, the whole movie is a rip-off of The Fly, but this scene is truly THE EXACT SCENE. There’s also a dash of Altered States thrown in here. As there are several intimations that what he’s turning into is a sort of caveman.

So then one of the doctors wants to take over his experiments, wanting Peter to die for that purpose. Peter kills him, then takes off. Sally rushes home to her babysitter, only to find that the babysitter’s eye has been ripped out [really her eye is closed and they smeared some blood on the eyelid, but whatever]. I was kind of giggling at the idea of the babysitter getting it. Anyway, Peter stole the little boy [for some reason] and now Sally has to get him back. It all leads to this long chase through a parking garage, Sally gets her kid back and Peter fully transforms into this dinosaur thing, who gets shot, and that’s it. As a closer Sally and her kid are driving somewhere, and the kid has this tiny skink kind of thing that he says will never die, and Sally makes a horrified face, the end.

I liked it! I really love the Cronenberg The Fly, so to see a tepid retread was kind of fun [maybe not quite as fun as The Fly II, but…], and plus it’s all just so very 90s in the cheesiest way, which is endearing. I also like that for the most part this is filmed in real subdivisions with real, average cars [one doesn’t really notice how in most movies the characters drive expensive cars or self-consciously ‘cruddy’ cars], which gives it a sense that the people making it are using their own resources on a meager budget. It was fun throughout [aside from the Patricia brutalization scene, which I thought went a bit too far], and, after watching the first 15 minutes one night before going to bed, I was eager to sit down and watch the rest in full. Strangely, this is the second movie from that 50 Chilling Classics set that I am watching [in parts] right now about a guy who transforms into a lizard, the second being Track of the Moon Beast. Anyway, if you like The Fly and would like to see a cruddy Italian version of it… well here ya go.

Should you watch it: 

Sure, it was amusing.