Starring: Belinda Mayne, Marc Bodin, ‘Michael Shaw’ (Michele Soavi)
Cave explorer Thelma (Mayne) has been invited to appear on a TV talk show to discuss her experiences. At the same time, a space shuttle is due to return to Earth. Thelma is asked about the most recent cave she and her friends have visited, but as she begins to speak, she receives a telepathic warning to stop her from revealing the location of the cave. The space shuttle lands in the ocean, but there is no trace of the astronauts who should have been on board. Thelma meets up with her friends (who, in a laughable attempt to appeal to the American market, have names such as ‘Jill’, ‘Cliff’ ‘Bert’ and ‘Roy’, are hanging out at the local bowling alley, drinking sodas and prone to using such sayings as “far out!”), who are planning to return to the cave which Thelma was prevented from discussing. On a beach nearby, a little girl wanders away from her babysitter and finds a weird blue pulsating rock. She picks it up and soon after, the babysitter finds her with a bloody, mutilated face. En route to the cave, the explorers find a similar blue stone, and decide to take it with them.
They arrive at their destination, an immense network of tunnels, and split into small groups. The stone, which Thelma has been carrying in her backpack begin pulsating; it explodes and a red gooey thing flies onto Jill’s face. She falls into a pit and one of the guys goes to help her. When he is doing so, the ‘thing’ breaks out from under Jill’s face (a great gooey effect) and attaches itself to the guy’s neck, gorily decapitating him. The film then goes into body count mode as the others try to escape; the splattery highlights including Bert’s face being eaten off and Cliff’s entire body exploding. Thelma and Roy manage to find the exit and they head back into town, however it is entirely deserted. In the film’s one genuinely eerie scene, they return to the empty bowling alley to find the equipment operating by itself. Roy disappears and Thelma soon encounters the mother alien – rendered by a shot of the creature’s gaping mouth). Thelma, the town’s only survivor, runs out onto the street, and the film ends with the el cheapo caption ‘You may be next!’
This unashamed Alien rip-off (released as Alien 2 in some territories – this is actually the title that appeared at the beginning of the Australian VHS release!) is as corny and cliched as hell but it’s also a lot of fun. The gore effects are surprisingly good, and the caves, though not visually outstanding, are quite effective, full of stalagmites and stalactites. The film has a generally more upbeat atmosphere than most Italian horror films, with its use of bright sunshine, dumb humor and pleasant Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (under the pseudo ‘Oliver Onions’) title track. On the downside, Ippolito wastes far too much time on unimportant shots, padding out the movie’s running time with endless scenes of people driving around in cars. Ippolito’s direction is routine, with his main intention (in the Italian tradition) to cash in on the latest Hollywood blockbuster quickly and cheaply. Switch your brain off and enjoy!