Syngenor

Not completely a direct sequel to William Malone’s 1981 “Scared to Death”, but “Syngenor” sees the return of Malone’s alien creation (this time there’s even more and a new creation to boot as well). As a low-budget, late-night b-grade offering, “Syngenor” is actually very well pulled off. I was expecting it to look much cheaper. It remains trashy fun throughout, namely due to the spontaneously intense and ham-fisted performance of David Gale. You could never tire watching this guy perform! It might be his show, but the rest the performances do shape up rather nicely. A delightful Starr Andreeff and snappy Mitchell Laurance agreeably work off each other. Riva Spier is enticingly manipulative. Also showing up is Melanie Shatner (William’s Daughter) and character actor Lewis Arquette.

Carter Brown is the CEO of Norton Cyberdyne, a corporation that deals with military defence technology. His latest creation under the project name “Dark Skies” is that of some genetically made super-soldiers known as Syngenor — Synthesized Genetic Organism. However problems start occurring when one of them is released from its basement enclosure to leave a bloody aftermath, which involves the death of their original creator Dr. Valentine. Growing increasingly paranoid that somebody (within) is trying to knock him from his perch; Brown’s sanity soon begins to spin out of control. Also he has to deal with a pesky news reporter and Valentine’s daughter.

Pulpy hokum, which has many dumb and unintentionally humorous qualities… but in the end that’s what makes it. Really it could have been more enjoyable than it was. The plot is nothing new (by starting off rather mild-mannered and then transcending into demented craziness) and the script is sub-standard, but bestowed a conceptual base of satirical barbs and tongue-in-cheek sparks. The tightly knitted execution at times was a bit shoddy (with some cheaply staged action — like the onslaught in the basement involving an oddly dressed security squad), but the pacing keeps on the move and the optical / special effects (done by Robert and Dennis Skotak) and make-up stand up better than you would think. The Syngenor designs (a man in a suit with an amatronic head) look quite decent, as they’re crafted with specific details. Although when they go after their prey, it can be rather laughable with their slow movements as they dawdle around waving their arms. Super-soldiers? Locked away in the basement? The feature was mainly filmed in the Ambassador Hotel, in Los Angeles which has an infamous history. Some moments have an atmospheric edge, while other sequences are truly devoid of it. Composers Steve Rucker and Thomas Chase provide a typically unhinged music score.

Slightly enjoyably low-end creature-feature oddity that’s brought to life thanks to David Gale.