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John’s Horror Corner: The Superdeep (2020), an awesomely gross, very creepy Russian Sci-Horror creature feature.

July 3, 2021

MY CALL: Great for fans of Sci-Horror and those who appreciate gross special effects, grosser creatures, and honoraria to The Thing (1982). MORE MOVIES LIKE The Superdeep: Well I must direct you to the recent Russian Sci-Horror Sputnik (2020). But more infectious horrors that must be kept from reaching the rest of mankind consider Gaia (2021), The Color Out of Space (2019), Life (2017), Splinter (2008), The Ruins (2008), Oats Studio’s Zygote (2017), Harbinger Down (2015), Leviathan (1989), The Thing (1982) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).

After an “incident” of sorts, Anya (Milena Radulovic) is sent with a research and military installment to investigate what happened in a superdeep underground research facility. The access doors to the cavernous environs’ greatest depths of the station have been welded shut and bear the scratchy writings of missing victims reading “insatiable hunger” and “help us” and “demons are here.” Already I feel as if I’m wandering into a subterranean iteration of The Thing (1982) with warning vibes that smack of Event Horizon (1997)… and I LOVE this feeling. Deep at the bottom of this borehole, abyssal recesses were punctured that housed something… something infectious.

Set in the USSR 1984, the opening shots of the arctic tundra with a helicopter approaching a snow-besieged facility feel undeniably inspired by The Thing (1982)—as will be the case for many other aspects of this film. When Anya and the team find a presumed-dead lab assistant (Darya Shagal) emerging from the dark caves, something is very wrong with her. She has been infected by a symbiotic, fungus-like growth that echoes H. R. Giger’s artwork that brought us the creatures and ship design in Alien/Aliens (1979, 1986). Like so many movies that clearly inspired it, the urgency placed on our protagonists is that this infection must not reach the surface; the rest of mankind.

The visual effects are a disgusting gory delight. There are gooey squishy mold gardens on floors, bodies nearly turned inside out with their bioluminescent fungal growths like a body horror Chia Pet, bubbling pustules erupt geysering gouts of fungal spores, and a disturbing creature concept lurks at the end.

The story isn’t riveting nor is it original. In fact, its components are very clearly borrowed and retold with the rather cool real-life scientific spin of the ant-Cordyceps fungus symbiosis (i.e., parasitosis). But you know what? I still think it’s well done, well shot, well (or well enough) written, very stimulating, very creepy, and loaded with incredible effects. Moreover, while a story told and retold and borrowed again and again, this film makes some serious efforts to deliver magnificent shots, to add additional higher concept biology to the well-established infection paradigm of The Thing (1982), and to spin a solid ending, even if a tad cliché.

Director Arseny Syuhin’s first feature film strikes me as a wild success. I thought everything about it was well done, and some familiar horror tropes were defibrillated with visceral flavor.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. khurtack permalink
    July 5, 2021 9:53 am

    This sounds great, is it available for streaming anywhere?

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 13, 2021 8:35 pm

      I saw it on Shudder.

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