April 26, 2012

Embryo (1976)

"A scientist doing experiments on a human foetus discovers a method to accelerate the foetus into a mature adult in just a few days."

You know how people are always talking about good films to watch on rainy afternoons? Well, with today being like a precursor to a second flood, "Embryo" turned out to be one of those films.

As a rule, I tend to skip over anything which sounds as if it might be sci-fi, but I was that bored while looking through my Mill Creek horror packs to find something to watch that I gave it a go. I "lucked out" (as Americans say).

Not only was this a "Bride of Frankenstein" knock-off but it had a lot of elements which were borrowed by "Splice" more recently. As I said, I don't watch a lot of sci-fi so I never realised the connection before.

Instead of gene-splicing, "Embryo" was all about artificially preserving the life of a naturally created foetus outside the womb but ended up with much the same disastrous results as all other Frankenstein subgenre movies.

What made it good though was the acting talent. Rock Hudson, Barbara Carrera (who I only know from that bad James Bond remake, "Never Say Never Again"), and even Roddy McDowell were all in this so it was hardly a low-budget cheapie even if it reeked of TV movie (and a lot of other TV movie actors) in places.

At an hour and three quarters long, "Embryo" was a film of thirds. The first third established Rock Hudson as the obsessed scientist, the middle was all about integrating Victoria (the grown up foetus) into society, and the final third turned out to be a run-of-the-mill horror.

I absolutely loved it though. All the science behind it was complete crap, of course, which made me happy since I hate anything to do with science, and Barbara Carrera was great to look at. Yes, you do see her briefly get nudie but blink and you'll miss it.

I really didn't expect Roddy McDowell to turn up in the middle and that was a nice surprise too. It was a more important moment in the film than simply another of his many cameos done for comic relief and another paycheck.

The horror elements were a bit tame even considering the time when this was made. There was some great stuff with a Doberman, a fair amount of blood, a couple of murders, and a denouement which could have inspired "À l'intérieur" if only more had been made of it.

I highly recommend "Embryo" and, since it is in the public domain, I have uploaded it to my YouTube channel so that you can enjoy it too.

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