Shadowzone

  • 1990
  • Movie
  • R
  • Horror, Science Fiction

Independent producer Charles Band scored with the critics and at the box office with the H.P. Lovecraft adaptations REANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND. Band's SHAWDOWZONE (for which Band served as executive producer) aspires to be a high-tech variation of Lovecraftian cosmic horror but ends up a weak sci-fi chiller, obviously influenced by ALIEN. It's set in a...read more

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Independent producer Charles Band scored with the critics and at the box office with the H.P. Lovecraft adaptations REANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND. Band's SHAWDOWZONE (for which Band served as executive producer) aspires to be a high-tech variation of Lovecraftian cosmic horror but ends up a

weak sci-fi chiller, obviously influenced by ALIEN. It's set in a remote, underground NASA laboratory, where scientists put human subjects through the prolonged periods of deep sleep necessary for long space voyages. When one subject dies, the NASA administration sends Capt. Hickock (David

Beecroft) to investigate. The project's director, Dr. Van Fleet (James Hong), claims that no cause could be found for the subject's death (although a clumsy autopsy has left the corpse completely gutted--for your viewing pleasure), so Hickock requests that one of the two remaining deep sleepers be

put through the same procedure the deceased underwent. Sure enough, Dr. Van Fleet has been withholding crucial information about the experiments. It seems that at a certain level of human unconsciousness a gateway to another dimension opens briefly, whereupon the sleeper explodes, and a

super-intelligent, shape-changing entity enters this world. Like most super-intelligent, shape-changing entities in movies, this one shreds everyone it meets, until only Hickock and Dr. Erhardt (Louise Fletcher), another scientist, remain. Using a computer, they manage to communicate with the

creature, which calls itself John Doe and says it cannot survive long in the lab's environment. The creature promises to spare Hickock and Erhardt if they return it to its home dimension, so the humans wheel out the last sleeper and tune in the dimensional interface. Before stepping through the

shimmering border to its own world, the creature assumes its natural form (which resembles a bug-eyed skeleton made out of meatloaf). When Erhardt can't resist looking into Doe's world, the creature snatches the scientist and brings her with it. Having seen enough, Hickock initiates an emergency

shutdown of the lab, smashing the equipment himself.

Notwithstanding its gratuitous nudity and gore, SHADOWZONE progresses adequately up to a point. But once John Doe starts hunting the humans, the plot resorts to the usual stalk-and-slash cliches. It's irksome to see rocket scientists fall prey to typical FRIDAY THE 13TH doomed-teen setups;

exploring dark passageways, looking for a lost pet, breaking away from the group on the most trivial of excuses, they are torn apart by the ravenous fiend they all know waits in the dark. The characters are drawn in broad strokes, with Beecroft substituting repeated use of the universal "gag me"

gesture for character development. Only Fletcher makes her role believable. Other notables in the cast include Lu Leonard and Frederick Flynn as a pair of grotesque sure-to-die menials. Onetime Miss USA Shawn Weatherly also appears, but the film's cheap sexual thrills are provided not by her but

by the naked, young male and female sleepers encased in brightly lit, transparent capsules. Director J.S. Cardone and production designer Don Day do a nice job of conveying the claustrophobic atmosphere of the sealed lab. One particularly memorable sequence cleverly enforces the story's

geographical context; after a 360-degree pan shot of the desert, the camera dives through the ground to the carnage-strewn corridors of the subterranean lab. Richard Band's musical score is lush as always, though it is little more than a pastiche of his earlier themes. SHADOWZONE played some New

York theaters before its videocassette release, which includes ads for Charles Band's movie-related merchandise. (Profanity, nudity, violence.)

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  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Independent producer Charles Band scored with the critics and at the box office with the H.P. Lovecraft adaptations REANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND. Band's SHAWDOWZONE (for which Band served as executive producer) aspires to be a high-tech variation of Lovecraf… (more)

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