Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
Here is the first of a series of reviews in which I will select a perfectly random film and give my thoughts on it. The selection will be completely randomized and will reflect neither pattern, rhyme, nor reason. One day I may review an obscure horror flick (like I am doing today), a mainstream blockbuster, a classic comedy, a silent film, or a TV movie. With a catalog of over a thousand films at my disposal I have opted to shuffle the list and pic which one comes to the top. Today’s shuffling has presented me with this early 90’s flick by Italian filmmaker George Eastman who, among other things, had achieved a certain infamy for writing such sleazy films as Anthropophagus and Porno Holocaust. Metamorphosis may not be as grotesque as those two, but I would not call it a good movie by any means.
Metamorphosis is an exercise in stiffness and apathy. There is not a shot in this movie that doesn’t look stale and there isn’t one scene where an actor doesn’t seem either bored or emotionless. Even the obligatory sex scene is stiff and passionless.
The main character is a geneticist who is experimenting with a serum that he hopes will end aging. Instead, in typical mad scientist fashion the serum backfires after he tests it on himself and it slowly causes him to transform. His aggression increases and he has lapses in memory in which he switches back and forth between his normal self and a vicious violent criminal. He has dreams and visions in which he sees himself raping and beating a woman that later he finds out are memories coming to the surface of his actions during one of these lapses. As he grows more violent and vicious his body begins to transform as well. By the end of the film he turns into a giant lizard monster that rasps and growls and kills anyone who gets in his way. At the end of the movie the police gun him down as his girlfriend and her son look on in horror. A cop asks another scientist “what was that?” and the scientist responds “a nightmare from the past.” I am not invested enough to really care, but if I was forced to interpret I would think the scientist was suggesting that our anti-hero had de-evolved into a lizard. Which is kind of stupid since humans are derived from apes not lizards. But who really gives a shit about accuracy with films of this type?
But to be honest I really don’t give a shit about anything in this movie at all. Accuracy least of all. The story is beyond ridiculous and the acting is so stiff that nothing said or done makes me root for anyone. The only thing I rooted for in this movie was the short run time.
The film finally ends with the girlfriend’s son talking about how the geneticist can never die as he holds a small cage with his pet lizard inside. His mother looks at the lizard in horror as if to suggest she suspects her ex is living on inside her son’s pet. Whether he does or not is of no consequence to me. I really don’t care. None of these characters are given any time for development so I cannot give a flying fuck about what makes them tick or what makes them happy or unhappy.
Metamorphosis feels like a bad X-Files episode getting away with something. In fact if one was to excise the gore and nudity this plot would make for any cheesy episode of any supernatural TV show of the 90’s.
Next time I will stick with Kafka if I want a story about a metamophosis.