Skip to content

Bad Movie Tuesday: Shocking Dark (1989; aka Terminator 2, aka Aliennators), an Italian B-movie Aliens (1986) rip-off that doubles as a Terminator (1984) rip-off.

June 12, 2018

MY CALL: Definitely one of the weaker Alien/Aliens rip-off films and boasting little in the way of creature effects or gore. You could do a lot better. This is best left to 80s B-movie completists. MORE MOVIES LIKE Shocking DarkXtro 2: The Second Encounter (1991), The Terror Within (1989) and Zombies: The Beginning (2007) provide shameful Aliens rip-offs while Lady Terminator (1989) provides an exquisite and supernatural Terminator (1984) makeover. For low budget Alien (1979) rip-offs, you should seek Contamination (1980; aka Alien Contamination), Alien 2: On Earth (1980), Scared to Death (1980), Galaxy of Terror (1981), Forbidden World (1982; aka Mutant), Inseminoid (1982; aka Horror Planet), Parasite (1982), Creature (1985; aka Titan Find), Creepazoids (1987), Blue Monkey (1987), Nightflyers (1987), Deep Space (1988), The Rift (1990) and Dark Universe (1993).

IMDB synopsis: “In a polluted future Venice, researchers work to improve the situation. One day, unknown forces start killing them. A team of soldiers and a couple of civilians are sent to investigate. Soon, they encounter strange murderous creatures.”

Director Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn; Hell of the Living Dead, The Other Hell, Zombie 3) clearly held the 1986 playbook tightly to his chest. We have our shady company representative, a Ripley-ish scientist, a bitey feral Newt character, and our rough-around-the-edges Colonial Marines (here named the Omega Force). Like “bad movie” sprinkles, we find needless racism, top dog locker room banter and nunchucks as we meet our shotgun-toting future soldiers (including Geretta Geretta; Demons, Rats: Night of Terror, 2020 Texas Gladiators).

The dumb dialogue and one-take rough-cut scenes create a strong exploitation film vibe—just without all the sex, nudity, monster rape and (sadly) gore. Many of the scenes are carbon-copies of Aliens (1986) with positively no soul to them. Sadly, even the monsters were phoned in, in terms of creativity. But sometimes we enjoy clunky monsters. They can give us something to giggle over.

The monsters are super slimy fish people that feel closer to Humanoids from the Deep (1980) than xenomorphs, with some attention to making them look like the star gazer engineer. The effects are limited to their rubber suits and their slimy mouths. The monsters move slowly and stupidly, posing no real menace as they slowly reach their giant claws towards victims and are swiftly dispatched with one shot like a FPS videogame. We basically see no gore or guts, and I was also disappointed they didn’t copy other life stages (i.e., body forms) of the alien or elements of chest-bursting—probably all due to budget constraints. If I’m being honest, this is pretty weak even for a B-movie.

As if this movie wasn’t silly enough, our Ripley and Newt characters time travel away from the ichthyoid xenomorphs only to be followed by a double-crossing member of their crew who turns out to be an evil Terminator who chases them around Venice. And while all this probably sounds like a laugh riot, it’s surprisingly unengaging—on the verge of boring. Sigh. As such I’d give this a weak recommendation, suggesting that only Aliens-riffing B-movie completists venture into this territory.


10 Comments leave one →
  1. rdfranciswriter permalink
    June 20, 2021 12:01 pm

    I had to laugh at how, all of the sudden, copies of what I consider a companion piece to Shocking Dark — Sergio Martino’s Hands of Steel — are popping up all over the online marketplace. It’s like an old video warehouse was cracked opened and a trove of VHS copies were discovered.

    I get a kick out of Hands of Steel . . . the artwork has been repurposed into several other, equally awful (but fun) Terminator rips. To fool you into thinking you’re getting a Hands of Steel repack? Who knows what Martino had up his sleeves.

    But that “kitchen sink” way of filmmaking is the filmmaking we love!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 20, 2021 2:38 pm

      On a scale from 1 to Alien: Resurrection, how bonkers is Hands of Steel? I’ve never seen it.

      • rdfranciswriter permalink
        June 20, 2021 2:50 pm

        It doesn’t even rate inside that bonkers scale!!

        You’ve got John Saxon as a villain. You’ve got U.S. daytime-nighttime soap actor Daniel Greene our humanoid “Arnie” assassin. And we’ve mumbo-jumbo about a scientist with solution to the world’s acid rain problem — that must be stopped! There’s a rip off of Pris from Bladerunner. There’ rip n’ clips from Stallone’s Over the Top and First Blood. There’s biker gangs. And Mafiosos. And a Claudio Simonetti of Goblin soundtrack! It just goes on and on in the “bonkers” department.

        It’s pure majesty!!

      • rdfranciswriter permalink
        June 20, 2021 2:59 pm

        Oh, by the way. The other films that use the Hands of Steel artwork are:

        1. Cy-Warrior, aka The New Terminator, aka Cyborg II, aka Invulnerable Exterminator, aka Cyborg Warrior. Its stars Henry Silva, if that sells it, to ya.

        2. Top Line, aka Alien Terminator. Who stars? Who can pass a Franco Nero movies? And George Kennedy in a bad German accent?

        Yes, both have Arnie-style cyborgs and pretty much pinch all of the same movies as Hands of Steel. Although, Top Line takes it a step further and clips Raiders of the Lost Ark and tosses in buried-cave UFOs. And Cy-Warrior takes Universal Soldier to task.


  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: Star Crystal (1986), E.T. (1982) meets a fun gory B-movie Alien (1979) rip-off with a gooey tentacle monster. | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Spider Labyrinth (1988; aka, Il nido del ragno), an Italian B-movie about a cult and their demonic spider god. | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. Bad Movie Tuesday: Transformations (1988; aka Alien Transformations), a mildly exploitative Sci-Horror B-movie about a gooey alien STD. | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: Biohazard (1985), a goofy schlocky B-movie Alien (1979) rip-off about a busty psychic and a crab-clawed monster. | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner: The Dark Side of the Moon (1990), a Sci-Horror linking the Bermuda Triangle to a Hell-touched spaceship. | Movies, Films & Flix

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: