Color, 1989, 91m.
Directed by Antonio Margheriti
Starring Daniel Bosch, Marina Giulia Cavalli ("Julia McKay"), Robert Marius, Luciano Pigozzi, Charles Napier
One 7 Movies (US R0 NTSC)
Though the leads are fairly pedestrian even by Italian schlock standards, Alien from the Deep compensates by offering a typically wonderful turn by the square-jawed Napier and the bizarre decision to include a grizzled-looking Luciano Pigozzi (aka the Italian Peter Lorre, seen in titles like Baron Blood) as a doctor who joins the heros on their mission. The alien (or whatever it is) really steals the show, though, especially when it's finally shown in all its oversized, awkward glory for the big climax complete with more flashing lights, smoke, and explosions than a Duran Duran video.
Though he's primarily known for his accomplished gothic horror films like Castle of Blood and some fun westerns and sci-fi films, Antonio Margheriti certainly wasn't above cashing in on Hollywood trends. He spent much of the early '80s churning out ridiculous Raiders of the Lost Ark imitations and, starting with The Last Hunter, made more than his share of jungle adventures. This one falls near the end of his career, made back-to-back with his two Indio films with Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Obviously Alien from the Deep doesn't stray too far from that formula in its first half, so if you've seen any other '80s Margheriti films, well, you get a lot more of that here. The lunatic portion of the film with the rampaging giant alien claw is one of the nuttiest concepts from an industry not exactly known for restraint, and each appearance is bound to elicit cheers and applause.
This was also made at the tail end of Italy's golden era of trash filmmaking, and it feels an awful lot like it was made for European television with one eye on an international theatrical release (a la much of Sergio Martino's later output). This did wind up playing theaters in Italy, but the look and feel is a lot closer to Margheriti's small screen efforts (including the infamous Yor, the Hunter from the Future, which originally existed in a much, much longer and pokier miniseries version). This direction is borne out by One 7 Movies' American DVD, which looks like a PAL transfer of an old one-inch master that's been collecting dust somewhere. It's obviously better than the cruddy gray market versions that have floated around, and the full frame transfer doesn't really look compositionally impaired; still, keep your expectations really low. The English track (which matches almost everyone's dialogue, with most of the leads providing their own voices) is provided along with an optional Italian track (no subtitles); extras include a still gallery and, if you're curious, the Italian opening and closing credits taken from a very rough VHS copy. If you know what you're getting into, this is the perfect '80s Italian popcorn flick for a late night when you're tired of watching Hell of the Living Dead.