Thursday, May 24, 2012

In short: Proteus (1995)

The yacht of some drug smugglers on the run with assorted girlfriends sinks in a joint-related accident. Their life boat carries the idiot gangsters and their girlfriends to safety in form of an oil rig.

But something doesn't seem to be right with the place at all. There's no crew to be seen anywhere, the lights in most of the rig's innumerable corridors are out - this just might be a ghost rig.

Our intrepid non-heroes soon stumble into the resident genetic mad science lab, manage not to see the pulsating goo patiently waiting to infect them in a corner, and come to the conclusion that something's not right with the place. Could it be that experiments with artificial genes (don't ask me) and a shark have created a horrible monstrosity out to assimilate and eat people, and that our non-heroes look really tasty to it?

Oh yes, it's an Alien/The Thing variant with a bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers on an oil rig! Where do these filmmakers get their ideas from? Despite lacking any ideas of its own, and being pretty dumb, Proteus is a serviceable example of its particular breed of horror film. From time to time director Bob Keen (better known as a special effects guy) manages to create a somewhat suspenseful scene, and while there's nothing happening here that will surprise anyone, the film is at least decently paced.

Of course, to be as mildly entertained by Proteus as I was, one will need the ability to appreciate scenes and scenes of (pretty vile yet uninteresting) people running through dark corridors. That's the late 80s and 90s version of all those running through the woods scenes we all know and love from 70s horror films, and was probably created when producers realized that an important part of their audience just fucking hate trees (stupid trees); plus, corridors can be even darker, so you never need to shoot more than one take in them, because your audience can't see what's happening in them in any case.

But where was I? Oh, right, Proteus. Seeing as Keen's a special effects guy, I was a little surprised by the badness of the climactic monster encounter, when the monster of the appropriately evil name of Charlie - Sheen, one supposes - appears in its full shark/t-rex glory, as a barely mobile animatronic thing that looks about as threatening as Neil Gaiman. The rest of the effects are pretty okay, though, if, again, lacking any creative spark as well as the willingness to actually go for the body horror elements that just scream for some tasteful tastelessness.

Or, to use the immortal word the Internet likes so much: meh.


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