Case Number 03792: Small Claims Court


Elite Entertainment // 1990 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 7th, 2004

The Charge

Product of science...nightmare from hell!

The Case

Welcome to Norton Cyberdyne, a lovely corporation with fantastic dental benefits and a horrific secret stashed in its basement! What is this mind-numbing, terrifyingly evil mystery? It's the "Syngenor," a "Synthesized Genetic Organism" (SYN-GEN-OR, get it?) that was created to be the next evolution in military weaponry. You see, the Syngenor don't need food or water and reproduce asexually every 24 hours, much like Steve Forbes (n'yuck n'yuck). When a sexy undermining executive (Riva Spier) lets the creatures loose to wreak havoc and destroy the reputation of twisted CEO Carter Brown (the wonderfully batty David Gale of Re-Animator fame), things go from bad to worse. It's up to a couple of reporters (Mitchell Lawrence and Starr Andreeff) to put the kibosh on Brown's biologically advanced super mutants. What does all this mean for you, the lucky viewer? Lots of breasts, buckets of blood, and a late night feast of terror that will satisfy even the most discerning B-movie tastes.

While watching Syngenor, I vividly recall thinking to myself "this is exactly the type of movie I used to watch on HBO when I was 14 years old and had nowhere to go on a Friday night." In fact, the only time table this movie works on is around 3:00AM with a stale beer and a half a bag of Doritos by your side (unless, of course, you're 14 years old -- don't drink and drive, kids). If you're looking for a movie that's a rip off of about a dozen other sci-fi/action/horror movies from the 1980s, Syngenor will be right up your alley. Produced in 1990, Syngenor feels like it was made as an homage to the late night straight-to-video (remember VHS?) cheapie from the decade of Regan and Devo. Featuring monsters straight out of the H.R. Giger sketchbook, Syngenor includes drooling beasties that couldn't scare even a three year old -- not that I'm complaining. Part of the movie's charm is that it looks like it was made the basement of a building on the corner of Highland and Hollywood. The main monster, the lizard-like Syngenor, spends most of its time drooling and slowly stalking its prey (I had a hard time believing something this sluggish is the future of our country's defense). The wall décor...err, I mean actors are made up of a bunch of folks I've never seen before, and haven't heard from since. That is, of course, except for David Gale. Gale received his biggest kudos as Dr. Carl Hill in the seminal 1985 classic Re-Animator and its 1990 sequel. Here the lanky actor displays the exact reason why he was cast in this sort of a role: once you see Gale cowering in a corner with a child's Halloween rabbit mask on backwards and a demented grin on his face, you'll have no doubt he was the perfect choice for this role. In fact, Gale is far more interesting than any of the special effects displayed in Syngenor. But what else is new? When the budget looms at around the same cost as a 1989 Honda Accord, nothing surprises me. Women go down screaming, heads are torn from their bodies, and even William Shatner's daughter shows up as Norton Cyberyne's va-va-va-voom secretary. Not to be missed, unless you can find Re-Animator playing on a different channel.

Syngenor is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The best thing I can say about this transfer is that it's in its original aspect ratio and looks pretty good. The fact is that Syngenor is still a B-movie leftover from the early 1990s and as such sports a mediocre picture with a few inherent imperfections (including some dirt and edge enhancement). Yet, the colors and black levels are all solid and well defined, good news considering what this movie is. The soundtrack is presented in a better than anticipated Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix in English. While no one will mistake Syngenor's sound mix for Lord of the Rings, overall this is a decent track that features a few well-placed directional effects and surround sounds. Most aspects of the mix are free of any major distortion. Also included on this disc is Dolby 2.0 soundtracks in English, French, and Spanish.

Like Anchor Bay, Elite Entertainment always treats its cinematic crap with coddled love and care. Syngenor is no exception -- included on this disc is a commentary track by producer Jack Murphy, actress Starr Andreeff, and writer Brent Freedman. If you're a fan of the film you'll get a kick out of this track -- all of the participants have a good time watching the film as well as dole out production and storyline information. Next up are a few featurettes ("David Gale at Tokyo Fantastic Film Festival," "Publicity Photo Shoot," "Doug Beswick's Creature Shop," and "David Gale Audition") that chronicle various aspects of the film's release and production. The best is watching Gale's audition in an office; a rare glimpse at a cult icon in action. Also of interest for fans will be the short featurette on Doug Beswick's creature shop, which includes footage from the making of the Syngenor suit. Finally, there is a photo and publicity gallery, a few filmographies, a theatrical trailer, and bonus trailers for other Elite Entertainment, I mean movies.

Review content copyright © 2004 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 76

Perp Profile
Studio: Elite Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)

* None

Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary Track with Producer Jack Murphy, Actress Starr Andreeff, and Writer Brent Freedman
* Four Featurettes
* Photo and Publicity Gallery
* Theatrical Trailer
* Bonus Trailers

* IMDb