Shock-O-Rama Cinema // 2007 // 80 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 11th, 2008
Invade. Infect. Mutate. Devour.
From Shock-O-Rama, an epic saga about carnivorous balls of snot. What it will mean for your weekend, next.
A group of friends out paint-balling one day stumble into an abandoned house and what they find defies believable screenwriting. Within the unassuming house a crazy scientist has set up a secret laboratory, attempting to undo some bad stuff he was hired to invent. The bad stuff? A biological weapon for the government that eats people's faces.
Yes, it is the so-called "bacterium," and it looks like something that was excavated out of a whale's blowhole. The friends, led by the feisty Beth (Alison Whitney), find themselves sucked into the conspiracy. And things only get deadlier when the bacterium mutates and becomes a gigantic blob that starts dissolving and eating all organic matter in the immediate vicinity. The government sends in a covert ops crew to clean up the mess but that may not be enough.
So what do you do with a giant booger that is threatening to consume the world? There's only one answer friend and it's an obvious one: set off a black hole bomb.
Yeah, that's for real. The government decides the best way to contain the Night of the Living Phlegm is to detonate a "singularity" weapon that causes mini-black holes. This is just one cheesy moment in a sea of cheesy moments, which, believe it or not, actually work in the movie's favor. Bacterium is thorough Z-grade schlock, but it's a good amount of fun. Granted, some of the fun may be had at the expense of the movie, but hey a win's a win.
One of those "at the expense of" types of things is the acting, which may be the worst I have ever seen. The line reading is beyond laughably bad, and, were I a more talented wordsmith, I would be able to convey the horror of watching the mad scientist scream like a little girl about the danger of the blob or the comically exaggerated expressions of the government officials who weigh The Very Difficult Moral Dilemma of unleashing this ridiculous black hole thing. No one, save for Alison Whitney, comes out of this with a shred of dignity intact, but, again, I don't consider this a deal-breaker. The white-knuckle performances enhanced the schlocky nature of the production.
Another bit that writer/director Brett Piper has working for him is the effects work, which he was also responsible for. The shots of the pulsating, amorphous mucus look pulsating and fairly cool but there are a decent number of really, really low-grade visual effects work; my favorite -- the all CGI set for the top-secret black hole bomb manufacturing plant which looked more like the desktop wallpaper of my computer 10 years ago. There's some gore work here and there, but mainly the effects are of the sci-fi ilk and are about at the quality of the what you'd find in an old-school Doctor Who episode.
I'll give this to Piper: he shot for the moon here, packing as much wild crap into his movie as he could conjure. Blobs that eat people, idiot government agents that dress like prep school dropouts, weaponized singularities and completely pointless female nudity. All of these elements work to in various degrees of success, but the sum total is a fun, super-corny B-movie that isn't worse than minimally invasive outpatient surgery.
Bacterium isn't a reference disc, but who cares. The soft video transfer is anamorphic (1.78:1) and the stereo track makes noise that is emitted from your speakers. Adequate all-around. Brett Piper and producer Michael Raso deliver a fine commentary track, which is supplemented by nice making-of documentary, bloopers and trailers.
Just in case you cared, the rating on this thing is PG-13, but it definitely should be an R. Whitney gets naked at one point and there is plenty of lingering camera time to earn it a harder rating. And the skin melts off some dudes' faces, too. Kids, sorry if I blew this one for you.
Stupid but pretty fun for what it is: Goofy dreck with a far-out plot and some entertaining special effects. I don't think you'll hate yourself in the morning.
Get a shot of penicillin here, stat!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Making-of Documentary