Thursday, June 3, 2010

Deadly Instincts / Breeders (UK, 1997)

Ah, cheese. It comes in so many flavours: Cheddar, Gouda, Harzer, Limburg, Manchego, Mimolette and so many, many more. Some cheese is good, some cheese is excellent, some cheese is pretty painful. Sometimes it stinks but is good, sometimes it looks and smells good but is pretty crappy. If Deadly Instincts—or Breeders, as it is called in every country of the world but in Germany—were a cheese instead of a film, it would probably be Velveeta—in other words, no real cheese at all, but rather a "pasteurized prepared cheese product," and as such highly immemorable. True, it might appeal to some people out there, particularly those with no taste at all—bad taste is a taste, after all—but in the end it is not worth buying as it has nothing to do with the real thing.
Breeders is the second film of the English auteur-filmmaker (naaahhht!) Paul Matthews, who has been wowing nobody since his first film in 1995, the cheapy horror tale Grim (trailer). For this R-rated television co-production—the German broadcasting station RTL, renowned for its excellent taste, helped finance this piece of Velveeta—Paul Matthews raided his DVD collection of bad films of yesteryear: the movie is a remake of cheap and sleazy grindhouse film from 1986 entitled—Surprise!—Breeders. The original Breeders, a 42nd Street breast-a-thon, was one of the select non-porno films made by director Tim Kincaid, born Tim Gambiani, a director better known as "Joe Gage", the still-active porno director behind the pre-condom, gay classics Kansas City Trucking Co. (1976, starring the great Jack Wrangler), El Paso Wrecking Corp. (1978) and L.A. Tool & Die (1979). (Kincaid's brief series of non-X-rated films more-or-less ended with She’s Back [1989], a "comedy" written by Buddy Giovinazzo [!!!], the man behind Combat Shock [1986 / trailer], and starring a totally coked-out Carrie Fisher.) Kincaid's Breeders is hardly a masterpiece, but it is a prime example of vintage 42nd Street sleaze, and as such it is finely aged cheese in comparison to Matthews's Velveeta and thus is definitely the better viewing experience. (Watch the cheesy opening scene here!)
The new version of Breeders starts off highly promising with an unbelievably good-cheese credit sequence: over the extended scene of a cheap looking CGI asteroid-spaceship flying through relatively cool looking CGI space some truly nasty, cut-rate lettering lists the non-stars of the flick before the asteroid-spaceship crashes in front of an all-girls college in or near Boston (the Isle of Man, actually, but the filmmakers would like us to think it's Boston). Out pops the rubber suit (Clifton Lloyd Bryan) and his human, scar-faced female sidekick in an ill-fitting S&M outfit (Kadamba Simmons, who also starred in Grim and was, in real life, murdered in London by her boyfriend in June of 1998). They go hide in the miles of underground tunnels beneath the school while Horace the Janitor (Nigel Harrison, the base player of Blondie, in his movie debut) makes some extra cash by selling pieces of the meteor as pendants to the college girls—but the alien does him in before he can do much with the dough. Ashley the Stud (Todd Jensen of Cyborg Cop [1993 / trailer], The Mangler [1995 / trailer], the remake of It's Alive [2008 / trailer], and Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead [2009 / trailer]) is the art (and, it seems, the only) teacher at the school, and he has the eyes for the babes; in no time flat he’s bonking the blonde babe student Louise (Samantha Womack of the UK TV series EastEnders). People start disappearing and blood is found and when he sees the monster and starts telling people, the panties-sniffing teacher promptly becomes the main suspect. To prove his innocence, he and Louise decide to take matters in their own hands and go for the monster...
Breeders obviously enough has a nicely cheesy plot and could have made a nicely cheesy film, but Paul Matthews the scriptwriter fucks it up almost as badly as Paul Matthews the director. Finer points of the script: no sooner is it established that the removal of the pendants frees the enslaved than does Ashley the Stud start blowing holes into the gals; when Dt. Moore (a hilariously overacting Oliver Tobias of Addio, fratello crudele / 'Tis Pity She's a Whore [1970 / soundtrack by Ennio Morricone], The Stud [1978, trailer] and The Wicked Lady [1983 / trailer]) sends in "forensics", a swat team goes in—only to get decimated as they wander this way and that; Roper the Bitch Principal (Melanie Walters) knows there’s a monster on campus but not only prefers to let it get the girls than reveal the truth but also goes wandering around this way and that; out-of-the-blue, Ashley suddenly knows how to injure the unstoppable monster; day changes to night—need I go on?
To give Matthews' version of Breeders some credit, at least he went for the traditional man in a rubber suit instead of relying on CGI like so many b-films of today; as a result, unlike so many b-films of today, the monster looks pretty OK—sometimes even effectively mean and nasty. Regrettably, little else in the film is either effective or nasty, despite having one of the better, gratuitous mass nude shower scenes since the original Carrie (1976 / trailer) or Black Mama, White Mama (1973 / trailer). To give Matthews even more deserved credit, it is astounding that he was able to make a film as boring as this one despite such cool ingredients as nekkid college girls, a monster from space hot to breed with earth women, guns and explosions, crappy acting, cheap special effects and a high body count. So much for Velveeta—I want some Danish Blue.

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