POUNDLAND vs. THE THING
, 11 Aug 2013
The stars of Brookside and Eastenders collided on this oil-rig set horror sci-fi back in 1995. Craig Fairbrass (EASTENDERS) was our great white hope back when this was made. He was our shot at having our very own action star, alas the UK film industry could barely afford to make the kind of action movies to showcase his talents and all seemed lost for him, at least for a while. Proteus' cinema slot was put back and back and in the end it wasn't even released on video until 2001. Proteus, Beyond Bedlam and Dark Days were all the only traces of the UK's bid to launch Fairbrass as our fair isle's answer to Sylvester Stallone. Since then Jason Statham caught the wave right by going into Hollywood through the back way, France's Luc Besson's glossy action factory and Fairbrass has cornered the market in moody gangsters to pretty good effect. Rise Of The Footsoldier was the home grown comeback we'd been looking and he found a comfortable niche for his style. But back to this sci-fi oddity. Proteus starts off like an episode of El Dorado when a group of Canadian yuppie heroin dealers accidentally blow their yacht to smithereens and then happen upon an abandoned oil rig, and that's where their problems really begin to add up. What they find aboard is a shape-shifting, half body snatcher, shark man hybrid called Charlie (yes really). And predictably they get picked off or absorbed into Charlie's form in order of annoyance. Besides Fairbrass, who does a good line in caveman confusion, we have Brookside alumnus Jenifer Calvert as the only other lead who is bothering to act. I've never come across any of the other yacht survivors before or since and they are all spectacularly rubbish, specifically William Marsh as a douchebag heroin addict / yuppie and his girlfriend, played by Margot Steinberg (IN LOVE AND WAR) who would have improved the movie if she'd have died an hour earlier. All the survivors seem to do is paddle around a flooded studio that looks like the place where used to film Top Of The Pops in the 1980s, endlessly. They get spooked by lamps exploding, eat cold food and exchange earnest dialogue like 'You know what? Alex isn't an *ssh*le after all' to 'Yeah, you're right, he's just a d*ck'.... Another thing that exacerbates proceedings is that Proteus is one of worst lit movies I've ever seen. I watched it in the pitch black and I still couldn't make out quite what was happening on screen most of the time. It was either made badly or the DVD transfer was shocking. What I could make out were endless corridors lit with green and red christmas lights that were probably picked up from Woolies by the production designers. Probably the same place they bought Fairbrasses mullet, his dirty Bruce Willis vest and the female casts' impressive collection of 80s fright wigs (even the fashion is out of fashion). As always these types of movies are enlivened by cameos from actors who should know better / or who just love providing fun walk-ons in horror flicks such as this bilious dog guff. In Proteus we get two for the price of one. Put your hands up if you know who Ricco Ross (WISHMASTER) is/was? Yes, that's right, he had a good role in Aliens before he got set on fire and fell down a stairwell to his early doom (is that a spoiler?). Well, he does something similar here whilst accidentally acting everyone else off the screen in the process. The other 'face' is Doug Bradley (JACK FALLS) as the chief human baddy. He seems to have made a successful career out of this sort of role on the back of the cult Hellraiser series. He's also effortlessly good (in a Dr. Who kind of way) but by the end of the film they could have had the cast of The Expendables turn up and I've have still been bored turdless. When Proteus riffs on The Thing things begin to look up because the creature effects are pretty gloopy and good. Not on the same level as Rob Bottin's legendary creations but Charlie's various guises are about the only reason to watch this. God knows how worse this flick would have been if cheap CGI had existed back in the mid 1990s. The Indie UK film industry has come a long way since Proteus was made, but I can see why it sat on a shelf gathering dust for such a long time. It's just terrible. There's no good dialogue, a leaden plot, reasonable creature effects, bad acting, bad 80s hair (in the 90s), no lighting, sh*t sound effects and nothing to recommend it. Poor Craig Fairbrass even looks mildly embarrassed at featuring in this lame attempt at The Thing or Aliens that ultimately ended up being 90 minutes of splashing around in puddles in a flooded Quasar / Laser Quest arena. Some films are best forgotten. Sorry for bringing this one back up to the surface. 1 out of 10 - Imagine Home and Away set in space. You're half way there. It would've been better with Australians (just). Then again... britpic. wordpress. com
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