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The 100




Aberration
(1997)
Reviewed by Steve Crow
Rating: 6 Beans

berration starts promisingly enough, with some suspense-building monster-stalking scenes in the woods. It's nothing spectacular - POV monster-fare, but at least it's mildly hair-rising.

We're also introduced to Pamela Gidley (Strange Luck, The Pretender, Fire Walk With Me, The Little vampire) as the "heroine", Amy. I use the term "heroine" loosely, because besides having some kind of obscure hidden agenda, she's basically generally obnoxious and nasty, and seems to be doing her "Brigitte" character from "The Pretender."

Naturally, her warm-hearted, endearing character traits mean that local zoologist Marshall (Simon Bossell, starring in almost nothing else, but looking suspiciously like Skippy from "Family Ties") taking a liking to her. They end up back at her cabin for reasons, and sure enough, mutant lizards come crawling out of the woodwork. They spit like a cobra, have teeth like a piranha, climb on walls like a gekko, grow gills as necessary, and lay Alien-ish eggs for their offspring. They've already killed Gidley's neighbor *gasp* but after his house gets blown up, they come over to her cabin for the heat, warmth, and ham served well-done.

Some hilariously bad dialogue now ensues ("Why are you scientist guys always so smart?"), Marshall gets blinded by lizard spit (but heals suspiciously fast), and then Amy's boyfriend Uri shows up 60 minutes into the movie to regale us with her backstory. He's played hilariously by Valeri Nikolayev (The Saint, U-Turn), who seems to think he's wandered into Desperado by mistake and he's doing Banderas. Turns out he's a crook and looking for the money girlfriend Amy stole from him. He sneers, threatens, does some two-fisted shooting of the lizards, and eventually gets a hole gnawed through his head.

That leaves it to our protagonists to blow up the house (Marshall sets himself on fire in the process - whoops), fight the lizards that have hidden in the engine block of Uri's car (??), indulge in some gratuitous bloodletting as one of the lizards eats its way into Gidley's leg (?!?), kill off another of the only five characters in the movie at her grocery store, and eventually kill the last lizard. We're left with our characters slowly bleeding to death in a town with an apparent population of three (and 2 of them are dead).

The lizards are the best part of this movie, although why there are heat-seeking lizards in Minnesota (much less ones that mutate) is never coherently explained. The lizards can seemingly adapt to anything (even bullets!) but they never adapt to surviving in a cold climate, and keep coming after our warm-blooded heroes and the heated house Amy hangs out in.

It's like the producers decided after the first half hour that they'd go for comedy, so despite some gory effects, most of it is Amy and Marshall sniping at each other in your standard "hate you/love you" relationship. Nikolayev's appearance late in the movie is inexplicable, and only seems to provide a way to up the body count and explain Amy's backstory, even though we never cared anyway.

Other fun things to watch for, besides the hokey lizard F/X, is the landscape of "Minnesota". The movie is actually set in New Zealand, and you can play "Spot the familiar landscape" if you're any sort of Hercules/Xena fan. Half the time the characters are marching through the woods, half the time the landscape disappears entirely and it looks like they're wandering through the Arctic.

There's a kinda roller-coaster "sweep you along" effect that keeps you going despite the unlikeable characters and goofy plot, so if you've got a spare 1-1/2 hour, plug this one into the VCR or tape it off Cinemax for a few laughs.






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