Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bakterion (1982)

... aka: Panic
... aka: Pánico
... aka: Panik
... aka: Zombi 4

Directed by:
"Anthony Richmond" (Tonino Ricci)

Something goes wrong at the Chemi-Cal Corporation, which infects rats (turning them violent) as well as an accidental human guinea pig for a new vaccine, who turns green, starts smoking and begins the slow process of mutating into a lumpy-faced radioactive monster. The man manages to escape the building but Chemi-Cal president Mr. Milton (Franco Ressel) doesn't want anyone to say anything about this to the citizens of the small town of Newton, England. He claims to be afraid of a citywide panic if journalists get word out about what's going on, but he's mostly concerned about his highly-profitable business. Scientists Jane Blake (Janet Agren) and Dr. Vince (Miguel Herrera) claim to know nothing about the new vaccine that started the problem. It was in fact the brainchild of Professor Adams (Roberto Ricci), who's unfortunately on vacation trout fishing as all this goes down. Well, supposedly. Since Chemi-Cal is known primarily for making just aspirin and antibiotics, suspicions fall quickly fall upon Adams, who may have been experimenting with things he shouldn't have been.

The mutant man soon gets to work killing people. He surprises a young couple having sex in a car and slaughters both. Upon finding the bodies, Sergeant O'Brien (José Lifante) is called in to investigate the crime. Newton being a small town and all, he only has two men under him, so government agent Captain Kirk (David Warbeck) is brought in to do a parallel investigation on Chemi-Cal. Kirk soon draws the correct conclusion that there's a connection between the murders, the accident in the laboratory and the disappearance of the the professor. He decides to enlist Jane's aid in hunting down Adams. They go to his vacation cottage and find no sign of him. They do however find his "bodyguard" dead, bloody and strung up over the fireplace. An autopsy on the body uncovers something strange about his cellular structure. The mutant then sneaks into a home and kills a woman in the shower, leaving behind some "green stuff" at the crime scene. Each of the victims have the same traits: they look like they've been chewed up by some kind of animal, most of their blood has been drained from their body and they have strange sores that are the result of contact with a radioactive substance.

The monster - which has been hanging around in an underground sewer system and hates bright light and loud noises - goes to a movie theatre and busts through the screen mid-movie causing a mild pAnIcO. Its gravitation toward naked or half-naked or just-got-naked big-breasted women continues as it zeros in on a half-dressed trollop who'd just promised her date she'd put out if he went and got her an ice cream cone! Excuse me for a second while I go stock my freezer with drumsticks. After he strangles her, throws her over his shoulder and takes her backstage for a midday snack he decides for a change of scenery and goes to a church to impale a priest. As it turns out, Professor Adams was actually working on a virus to use in germ warfare and managed to infect himself in the process. The government decides to send in the military in to quarantine the entire town. A roadblock with armed guards is put in place and the phones, TVs and any contact with the outside world for the citizens of Newton are all cut off. Because no one is giving them any information, some of the citizens decide to do a little revolting but they're no match for the military.

Word gets out that the government has also decided to enact "Plan Q," which means the entire town is going to get blown off the map unless either Adams is proven to be non-contagious and is killed or if Jane and Vince are able to come up with an antidote. Adams manages to find his way to Mr. Milton's home and kills him in front of his children. Kirk heads on over to the crime scene and decides to follow the green slime / blood trail into the sewers. 

Sgt. O'Brien:
What are you doing?

I want to follow it.

Sgt. O'Brien:
I forbid you to. It's crazy. You don't know how to kill him, anyway!

I know I don't, but I have no choice!

Uh huh. So down he goes. A close call or two later, Jane finishes the antidote and volunteers to give it to Adams, but everyone else just wants to blast him to pieces. With time ticking away and just an hour or so remaining until the military bombs the hell out of the town, can our heroes track the killer down in time?

Despite being murky, dreary, predictable and completely unoriginal (much of this seems inspired by George Romero's THE CRAZIES), this has many other problems. If there was a toxic, radioactive, possibly contagious monster running amuck, would you casually run your fingers through blood or touch the victims? Eventually it's established that the virus the mutant is carrying is not actually contagious, yet no one decides to inform the government of this so they can cancel "Plan Q?" Speaking of the government, how come none of the military men are ever out looking for Adams and the locals have to do all the work? The soundtrack seems to hint toward wanting us to feel sympathy for the monster, but since Adams was never established as an actual character, that simply ain't gonna happen. And so on and so on. The monsters effects from Rino Carboni are pretty mediocre though I've seen worse.

The DVD I viewed was from Mill Creek Entertainment and it's pretty much an embarrassment sourced from a censored VHS tape. There are picture rolls (with "stereo" actually popping up on the screen during one of them!), profanity is bleeped out and all of the nudity has been removed. Since several of the attacks are on nude women, this means that some of the blood / gore is also missing. Then again, when one spends peanuts on a multi-movie packs they can't expect too much.


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