John’s Horror Corner: Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1990), a gory callback to The Thing (1982) complete with mutant alien parasites and gooey transformations.
MY CALL: This gory B-movie callback to The Thing (1982) was far better than expected. More of a B+ movie, the creature effects were frequent, diverse, fun and satisfying—so I’d highly recommend this to fans of monster movies and old school practical effects. MORE MOVIES LIKE Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor: Blue Monkey (1987), The Nest (1988), The Deadly Spawn (1983)…The Thing (1981, 2011), Leviathan (1989), Blood Glacier (2013) and Harbinger Down (2015).
I rather enjoy it when B-movies just jump right into things. Not three minutes after the opening credits we are made aware of the presence of some mutant tentacle monster that’s already racking up a body count.
Written and directed by Glenn Takakjian (who never directed again), I was quite pleasantly surprised by this movie! It didn’t suck at all. I mean it’s bad, but it’s also sort of awesome.
A research facility has been experimenting with alien DNA—which means good news for us horror fans. We see glimpses of alien plants, strange reptilian creatures, and other mutant critters. Everything seems fine until one of the scientists accidentally hurts one of the creatures and is bitten by the frightened beast. Naturally, the researcher becomes infected…and it advances quickly.
Dr. Viallini (Marcus Powell; Rejuvenatrix, Time Bandits) and Dr. Stein (Allen Lewis Rickman; Flesh Eating Mothers, Slime City) decide to keep the infected scientist on site—obviously a mistake. As their patient transforms I’m reminded of From Beyond (1986) and Aliens (1986), as he becomes more amorphous and his blood becomes acidic. His now inhuman form has sealed shut his mouth and eyes, but opened entirely new orifices from which it “shoots” clawed harpoon-like tentacles and strange toothed parasites (a lot like in Without Warning).
After their father doesn’t come home from his night security job at the lab, sisters Sherry (Tara Leigh; Sabbath, Galidor: Defenders of the Outer Dimension) and Kim (Dianna Flaherty; Class of Nuke ’em High, The Toxic Avenger) go to facility to investigate. Viallini only tries to cover things up and he makes an excellent villain, his very speech patterns sounding like he is perpetually conniving.
The budget is surprisingly not so low (considering I had never heard of this), and significant efforts were made on the gore by the effects team. The gore and effects are frequent and care was taken in their presentation. I didn’t mind at all when a scene from The Thing (1982) was emulated as our patient’s head was tearing away from its body and small tentacles thrashed from its chest cavity. We also find an inside-out dog reminiscent of The Fly II (1989), which also dealt with genetic mutations, transformations, and monsters running amok in shady private research company buildings.
Eventually an all new monster somewhat “emerges” from within the infected transforming patient and it resembles the “husky ball” from The Thing (1982). As if that wasn’t already pretty spiffy, we’ll even enjoy a fair bit of cool Claymation to complement the animatronics. Another funny observation is that with the monster’s final form, its tentacles and its projectile infectious parasites, it seems that the alien monster from The Faculty (1998) might have been modeled after this!
The creature effects were frequent, diverse, fun and satisfying! The monsters got loads of screen time, and they are consistently slimy, gross, tentacular, gooey—just all that good stuff. So I highly recommend this to any fans of monster movies or practical effects fanatics.