First, just stop for a moment and admire that cover. Wow. I mean.. If you’re like me (and I know you are), that image is enough to at least get you to sit down and start watching. Toss in the title REPLIGATOR, and you have me properly intrigued. Hell.. I’d check it out if only to see if it could possibly live up to such an intriguing image and/or title.
And, of course, it can’t. Perhaps nothing really could. REPLIGATOR belongs to that mid-90s tradition of Fred Olen Ray/Jim Wynorski films which never took themselves seriously enough to be entirely offensive, but were rushed out so quickly that they rarely lived up to their garish posters or lurid titles. The director – Bret McCormick – was already a Z-grade veteran in 1996, but here he embraces the Concorde Pictures formula of recognizable names (TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE‘s Gunner Hansen and Scream Queen Brinke Stevens), plenty of gratuitous T&A, ridiculous humor (characters named Pvt. Poontang, General Mills and Colonel Sanders), and some sort of bizarre science fiction or fantasy elements. Of course, not even Fred Olen Ray could have come up with a title as alluring as REPLIGATOR. So that’s definitely a notch in McCormick’s favor.
This is the point where I’d normally attempt to describe the film’s plot for you, but that’s difficult for a number of reasons. The original version of REPLIGATOR clocked in at a pitiful 66 minutes, and McCormick had to go back a year later and film extra footage to pad things out to the requisite 90. This necessitated a framing story featuring Gunner Hansen as Dr. Kildare, who explains to a gruff, pissed-off Colonel why there’s been an increase in transsexuals on US army bases. We get a little goofy comedy involving a pair of X-Ray Specs and Kildare’s female assistant, but it’s mostly just an excuse to squeeze in some “star” power and stretch the running time a bit.
More gratuitous – if that can be believed – is a scene featuring Brinke Stevens as the cleverly named Dr. Goodbody, who is running her own experiments on.. well..
Yeah, she’s basically set up a screen which allows her to see the sexual fantasies of a goofball, overweight soldier. It fits a bit more nudity into the film (including, of course, from Stevens), but is thoroughly separate from the rest of the film. Even worse, they play the entire sequence TWICE — once at the very beginning of the film, and then again as a flashback when Kildare is relating the story of the experiments. Now THAT is some transparent padding.
Removed from these two extraneous bits, the plot is fairly straight-forward in that it’s entirely nonsensical. The US government has been funding experiments with transporter technology, and the head of the project – Dr. Oliver (the late Keith Kjornes) – has to give a demonstration to some representatives from the Army. Simultaneously, asshole scientist Dr. Fields (Randy Clower) has been working on mind-control technology, but hasn’t been having much luck. After a disastrous test of the transportation technology turns a solider from a male to a female, Fields takes over Oliver’s experiment and incorporates his mind-control research to create sexy female nymphomaniacs! Oh, and also the women turn into lizard people after they orgasm (David Icke would have a field day with this movie).
Things start to pick up a bit once the lizard people arrive, but up until then the film is mostly concerned with characters drooling over topless women and weak (though blatantly un-PC) humor. The creatures themselves are delightfully silly looking, but REPLIGATOR isn’t interested in being a tribute to silly monster movies. There are a few requisite stalking scenes, but the threat is never taken very seriously, and McCormick (and Kjornes, who also wrote) appears to be much more enamored with undressing his female leads.
Somewhat surprisingly, the film actually looks quite good. The production design of the lab is a bit sparse (and is that a VCR propped on top of the control console?), but it’s properly futuristic looking and even the computer effects (used almost exclusively to dispatch the reptiles) haven’t aged horribly. Performances are properly broad and cartoonish, with even Hansen bringing a bit of personality to his role.
While hardly a thorough disappointment, REPLIGATOR provides little of the kooky thrills that its title promises. Oh, sure, you get a few actors wobbling around in shaky lizard masks, but this is mostly a silly T&A-fest that is quickly becomes interminable due to excessive padding. Things pick up a bit when they break out the monsters, but by then much of the fun has fizzled out. Still.. What a title!
Three Nightmares out of Five = Shows Potential
One Nightmare – No-Budget Perfection, Two Nightmares – Shocking Success, Three Nightmares – Shows Potential, Four Nightmares – Not Much Fun, Five Nightmares – Please Kill Me
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