Contamination (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Luigi Cozzi
Produced by Charles Mancini
Written by Lewis Coates
Erich Tomek
Starring Ian McCulloch
Louise Marleau
Music by Goblin
Agostino Marangolo
Fabio Pignatelli
Cinematography Joseph Pinori
Edited by Nino Baragli
Alex Cinematografica
Barthonia Film
Distributed by The Cannon Group
Release dates
  • August 2, 1980 (1980-08-02)
Running time
95 minutes
Country Italy
West Germany
Language Italian

Contamination (also known as Alien Contamination, Contamination: Alien on Earth and Toxic Spawn) is a 1980 science fiction-horror film directed by Luigi Cozzi and starring Ian McCulloch. Cozzi also cowrote the screenplay under his pen name Lewis Coates. The soundtrack was composed by Goblin.


A large ship drifts into New York Harbor, seemingly abandoned. The ship is discovered to be carrying large containers of coffee, hidden inside of which are a series of football-sized green eggs. The crew sent in to explore the ghost ship find the mutilated remains of the former crew gathered in one place, and they soon discover the reason why: when disturbed, the green eggs explode, spraying a viscous liquid over everything. The liquid is toxic to living creatures, and causes the body to immediately explode.

The military's answer to this phenomenon is Colonel Stella Holmes (Marleau). She establishes a link between the green eggs and a recent mission to Mars that ended badly for the two astronauts who descended to the planet. One of them disappeared, and the other, Commander Hubbard (McCulloch), had a breakdown and subsequently became an alcoholic. When pressed, Hubbard agrees to help Holmes in her investigation of the insidious plot to bring the deadly eggs to Manhattan, and it takes them, along with sarcastic New York cop Tony Aris (Masé), to a Colombian coffee plantation. All is not as it seems; Hubbard's former astronaut colleague is apparently alive and well and living under the influence of a monstrous alien cyclops, which is using mind control to further its plot to flood the world with the green eggs and wipe out human life on Earth.



After the success of his film Starcrash, director Luigi Cozzi wanted to follow it up with another science fiction film. On seeing Ridley Scott's film Alien his producer decided he wanted Cozzi to make something similar.[1]

Due to budgetary constraints Cozzi decided to set the film on Earth, although retaining the ideas of the alien eggs and a large creature from Scott's film, and duly wrote a script called Alien Arrives on Earth.[1]

Producer Claudio Mancini wanted to use the name Contamination, which had been the working title for an aborted film he had been developing based on the Jane Fonda film The China Syndrome. The name was duly changed against Cozzi's wishes, with the producer also insisting on Cozzi developing more James Bond-style elements as opposed to his science fiction theme.[1]

The film's production offices were in the same building as those used by the makers of Zombi 2 and, impressed by the profits that film had made, Cozzi decided to try to hire the same cast members, although ultimately Ian McCulloch was the only actor to come on board. Cozzi wanted to use Caroline Munro (who had been featured in Starcrash) as Colonel Holmes but once again the producer overruled him and hired an older actress, Louise Marleau, instead. (Caroline Munro later worked with Cozzi again in his 1989 film De Profundis.)[1]

Contamination was shot in eight weeks: three weeks in Rome and then a further two weeks split between location shooting in New York City, Florida and Colombia.[1]

Cozzi had wanted to use animation or stop motion photography to realise the alien cyclops at the film's climax but was once again overruled by the producer, and an animatronic version was constructed instead. Cozzi subsequently claimed that this creature failed to work properly and would barely move, so he had to use rapid jump cuts to hide the fact that it was being pulled about by stagehands.[1]

Release and controversy[edit]

Contamination was released to theatres on August 2, 1980.

After the Video Recordings Act, Contamination was classed as a video nasty. Specifically, the film includes graphic depictions of human bodies exploding violently in slow motion, as well as the grisly remains of such explosions. While the explosion effects are not technically graphic (each of the exploding victims is encased in some kind of bulky costume that is obviously hiding the mechanism that sprays the gore), they are extremely bloody.

Years later, the BBFC classified the uncut version with a 15 certificate. It was released on video in the United States under titles Alien Contamination and Toxic Spawn, which are heavily edited. It is now available in the US in an unedited version which has been released on DVD.[2][3]

Thematically, the film makes some rather obvious references to 1979's Alien, in the use of small football-sized eggs and alien spores exploding from bodies reminiscent of the chestburster. In some countries, the film was marketed under the title Contamination: Alien on Earth, which has caused some to confuse this film with the similarly titled Alien 2: On Earth. Contamination includes a large octopus-like creature called "The Cyclops"; an alien which is responsible for the creation of the murderous green eggs.

Critical reception[edit]

Mike Long of DVD Talk wrote "While Contamination makes good use of the ideas that it's stolen, at heart it is simply another boring Euro-horror film."[4] DVD Verdict's review was also negative.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Alien Arrives on Earth. Blue Underground. 2003. 
  2. ^ "The Video Nasties List...Tabloid Hysteria". The Melon Farmer's Video Hits. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "Nasties". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Long, Mike (11 February 2003). "Contamination : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVD Talk. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Naugle, Patrick (21 February 2003). "DVD Verdict Review – Contamination". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 

External links[edit]