Directed by Giulio De Santi, Neil Meschino
Distributed by Necrostorm
“Body melts, alien mutations, tons of action and geysers of gore await you. The 80’s are back!” exclaims The Mildew from Planet Xonader’s synopsis. Goddamn right they (almost) are!
Throwbacks, homages, and celebrations of magical bygone eras have been the order of the day for a long, long time, many examples unfortunately using such labels to disguise poor planning, ropey acting, lazy FX, and a complete lack of originality. Whilst some of our dearly beloved 80’s trash may very well have been a mish-mash of coarse, economical trials and tribulations, they all shared one significant ingredient: love, ladies and gentleman – pure, potent, and powerful, permeating every frame and warming the coldest of hearts.
By jingo, finances may well have been tight, but (much like the fake blood) enthusiasm sloshed around in abundance!
Necrostorm, the Italian-American visceral visionaries responsible for titles such as Hotel Inferno and Adam Chaplin, have boldly revamped Neil Meschino’s 2012 film Mold!, breathing fresh life into a creature feature that boasts several of the components needed to make this more than an idle, uninspired nod to the good old days.
It’s 1984, the Reagan administration is in full swing, and researchers at the top secret Bentan Labs are celebrating the completion of their latest weapons project: an all-consuming mildew capable of rapid growth – ideal for obliterating stores of enemy rations. But when a political bigwig is accidentally infected, the fungus’ spores are released across the entire complex, and as the infected begin to mutate, survivors must join forces with a mysterious soldier – the aptly named Toxic – to combat the parasitic green god-awfulness before it’s too late.
Flooded with carefully-placed garish light, The Mildew from Planet Xonader looks every inch the classic schlock it’s trying so hard to emulate. Unlike many weaker attempts at tribute, however, it doesn’t stop there; its pounding synth score resonates and transports us perfectly where it knows we want to be – where? Back to a time of punch-the-air practical FX, OTT characters, and shite moustaches, that’s where!
It’s impossible to pay homage to a rather shoddy cinematic sub-genre you love so dearly without purposely making your film look a tad thrown-together, but there are precise ways of creating crudeness, and no corners are cut here where those methods are concerned. Mildew’s ludicrous characters are played admirably in the midst of the mayhem, and the FX set pieces are pretty damn fantastic: pulsating, melting flesh; oozing eyeballs; and glove-puppet mutant mice are a constant and never get boring. Plus, there are two scenes in particular that honestly blew me away: an early hand-washing sequence that was genuinely nauseating and some head-splitting editing that made me shout “FUCK YEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH!” at my TV.
Of course, some elements don’t quite work as seamlessly. For example, the pleasurable score is virtually continuous, laid over 99% of the visuals and lessening the impact of both. Also, the scenes in between the set pieces meander and can seem dialogue-heavy… although, when we’re being blessed with lines such as “If I can survive a knife fight with a Cambodian jaguar, then this little cigar ain’t got a chance,” should I really be overly critical?!
Necrostorm’s Collector’s Edition includes a graphic novel, posters, postcards, outtakes, featurettes, and the soundtrack and trailer; but it was unavailable for us to review.
Dig out your Deadly Spawn t-shirt, crack open a can of Hubba Bubba, and party with The Mildew from Planet Xonader like it’s 1984!