Contamination .7
(a.k.a. The Crawlers & Troll 3)

Director: Joe D'Amato and Fabrizio Laurenti
Mary Sellers, Jason Saucier, Bubba Reeves

Quite often when I start to write a movie review for this web site, I start by mentioning some personal experience I have had regarding the subject matter of the movie I am reviewing. With the movie I am reviewing here - Contamination .7 - I'm going to have a pretty hard time doing so. That's because the subject matter that is used in the movie - the deadly effects of radiation - is something I can't relate to. I have never had a personal experience with radiation that has gone badly for me. I have owned a number of televisions in my life in order to be able to watch unknown movies, and while some of them did show defects, none of them gave me a dose of dangerous radiation. When I go to the dentist and get my teeth x-rayed, I have always been given a lead shield to wear as the x-rays are used, so I have never had any bad effects. The various cities I have lived in have never been hit by a nuclear bomb. There are no nuclear power plants anywhere near where I live as well. The closest I have got to having a bad encounter with radiation is regarding the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan - which, as you probably remember, was damaged in 2011 by a tsunami caused by an earthquake, causing it to leak radiation into the ocean. Well, that radiation was carried by the ocean currents and eventually made it to the west coast of Canada, where I live... though even then, the parts of the coast where this radiation was detected were not only quite far from me, the radiation levels were judged by the scientific community to not be hazardous to humans.

It seems to me that radiation often gets a bad reputation. I have learned a few true facts about radiation that show it's not always as dangerous as you might think. For example, the 1971 Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Zindel play The Effects Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds revealed that under the right conditions, gamma rays can cause marigolds to grown into unusual but beautiful flowers. A number of years ago, I heard about an interesting experiment done by the NASA space agency. They had transported a number of tomato seeds to an artificial satellite orbiting around our planet, and they were kept there for a number of months, being bombarded by so-called deadly space radiation. A manned mission to space brought the seeds back to Earth, where NASA subsequently gave them to schools. NASA told the child students to grow the seeds in their classrooms and report what happened. Did the seeds grow into ugly tomato mutations? Well, as it turned out, the seeds grew perfectly normal-looking tomato plants. And though NASA told the kids not to eat the tomatoes, at least one kid tried one, and suffered no ill effects. So as you can see, so-called deadly radiation is not always deadly to us humans. Though certainly, there have been some cases of people getting ill from it. One notorious case was with the 1956 John Wayne movie The Conqueror. As you may know, it was filmed in the American southwest not far from a government atom bomb test site. 220 people, from the cast to the crew, worked on the film at that location. Twenty-four years later, an investigation was done on those 220 people, and it was revealed that not only 91 of them had developed some sort of cancer after working on the movie, 46 of them had died from the disease.

It's true stories concerning radiation like that last one that do give me a little pause despite part of me knowing that not all radiation exposure goes badly to the exposed. So I can understand why the motion picture industry has made a lot of movies that involve things going very, very wrong Contamination .7with radiation exposure. For example, there is the 1954 movie Them!, which was about ants growing to a gigantic size due to radiation. Even though it's long been proven that severe radiation will more likely kill than mutate something to a dangerous mutated beast, we still get movies portraying dangerous radioactive mutations. That's certainly what the movie Contamination .7 involves, but that's not what got me interested in watching it. What got me interested was that it was made by the same Italian film company that made the mind-numbingly awful Troll 2. In fact, in some places Contamination .7 was retitled Troll 3, despite having as much to do with trolls as Troll 2 did! So was this movie another so-bad-it's-good time? First, the plot. The events of the movie take place in and around the small town of Littleton. A former resident of the town, a woman named Josie (Sellers, StageFright), has just returned after an extended absence. Once there, she meets up with her former beau, a man named Matt (Saucier, Whore). Sparks start to fly again, but any plans to rekindle the romance are put on hold when in the Littleton woods they find the corpse of a woman. Naturally, they immediately leave the area to get the sheriff (Vince O'Neil, The Ballad Of Little Joe), but when they return to the site, they discover that the body has vanished. Soon other Littletown residents start to turn up dead, one of them being the grandfather of a journalist. It doesn't take long for the journalist, Josie, and Matt to figure out that the sheriff knows a lot more than he's letting on - and it has to do with the discovered illegal dumping of toxic waste in the Littleton woods.

Considering that the aforementioned Italian film company that made Contamination .7- Filmirage - also made movies like Quest For The Mighty Sword, Pieces, and Ator The Fighting Eagle, it probably comes as no surprise that this effort is also a bad movie. The question that comes up after this evidence is produced is whether Contamination .7 is bad enough in a way to give viewers enough unintentional amusement so the movie can join the ranks of classic so-bad-they're-good films like Troll 2. While I would love to answer yes to that question, the truth sadly is that the movie doesn't earn lovable bad movie status. That is not to say that there aren't some unintentionally funny moments here and there. The opening starts off with promise by having a bus driver exiting his bus to run into a gas station washroom, but only spending ten seconds in the washroom before exiting. And when he drives away a few seconds later, none of his passengers tell him that one passenger had stepped out behind his back to buy a drink and hadn't returned yet. There are a few other choice moments to be found in the next ninety or so minutes, including a woman crouching behind a tree to successfully hide from her pursuer despite the tree trunk not being all that thick... a man spending a considerable amount of time to do the seemingly easy task of putting his pen in his shirt pocket... a coffin in a graveyard being buried only one foot down from the surface... and the climactic sequence where various townspeople handle toxic waste drums despite not wearing any kind of protective gear.

But apart from what I just mentioned as well as a few other unintentionally amusing moments, Contamination .7 doesn't generate the hilarity that I had hoped. Instead, it's merely so bad that it's bad. There are certainly a lot of ways that it is bad, but I think that much of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of directors Joe D'Amato (Buried Alive) and Fabrizio Laurenti. Certainly, they seem much of the time to be hopeless at working with what looks to have been a very small budget. More often than not, there is a tight feeling to the entire enterprise, with the camera so close to the actors that we don't get a sense of the surroundings or general environment. This may account for an even bigger stumble that the two directors make - the movie doesn't manage at any moment to feel particularly horrifying or creepy. Instead, the tone that manages to be generated from start to finish is more casual in nature. There should have been a feeling of rising terror, some kind of atmosphere that would suggest that the characters are in real danger. But there was never any doubt how the protagonists would end up. This even extends to the scenes where the mutant menace does its thing. We don't get to see the menace until about half of the movie has gone by, though that's kind of expected for a movie of this nature. What I didn't expect, however, was that when the menace stopped being camera shy, that it would come across as... well... kind of lacking personality. It's hard to say why without really spoiling things, though I will say that the really cheap special effects that depict the menace do play a big part in creating an unbelievable air around this mutant menace.

Speaking of special effects, when it comes to depicting gory violence, the movie also disappoints. While the movie got an R rating from the MPAA ("A scene of graphic horror violence"), what's displayed in the scene could probably be shown unedited on prime time television more than twenty years later. However, I will admit the scene did give me some emotion, because the character who was experiencing that horror violence - the sheriff - was the one interesting character in the entire movie. Thanks to some really dopey dialogue and an impossibly bad performance by actor O'Neil, the character of the sheriff does brighten the movie up whenever he makes an appearance. Certainly O'Neil and his character are more interesting than the other characters and the actors who play them. For example, take the main two protagonists of the movie, Josie and Matt. We never learn key details of their relationship, like why they broke up all those years ago, nor do we get to really learn why they are attracted to each other all these years later. Also, there are a couple of moments in the movie when both of them are off the screen for extended periods. All this may explain why the two actors can't seem to generate any chemistry when they are together. It's just as bad as looking at the characters at the opposite end, the chief antagonists; we also learn next to nothing about them, from their backgrounds to their motivations. The chief characters in Contamination .7 were so weak and colorless, like with much of the rest of the movie, that it was one of the big reasons why I eventually stopped taking notes while watching the movie. Although I said earlier in the review that this movie for the most part was so bad it was bad, come to think of it, a more accurate statement might be to call it for the most part so bland it's bland.

(Posted May 9, 2021)

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See also: Mosquito, Ticks, Troll 2