SYNGENOR

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MOVIE REVIEW
SYNGENOR - 1990
USA Release: Oct. 3, 1990
Syngenor Production Company Limited, Associated Screen Artists Inc., American Cinema Marketing Corporation
Ratings: USA: R

Never think a movie is too awful or did so poorly that someone will never touch it again. They even remade Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang for Cthulhu's sake!

As a Musical!

With Gary Busey singing!!!

Some folks love a movie for whatever their reasons. Some even convince themselves that, once a movie reaches a certain age, it deserves "Cult Classic" status. SYNGENOR doesn't deserve Cult Classic status, since it is neither. But it did star David Gale (SAVAGE WEEKEND, RE-ANIMATOR, JAKARTA, THE BRAIN, BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR, THE FIRST POWER). And for fans of the late David Gale who can't get their movie making mitts on the RE-ANIMATOR franchise, I guess SYNGENOR is their only alternative.

So in 2003, Elite Entertainment gave SYNGENOR the full digitally enhanced treatment and they really knocked it out. 16x9 anamorphic widescreen for its original 1:85.1 Aspect. DVD animated motion menus, a Dolby Digital 5.0 track, DVD extras out the wazoo that far superior movies should have got but, as of this writing, never have. Even THE TERMINATOR and John Carpenter's THE THING haven't been treated this well!

On the Elite DVD, Producer Jack F. Murphy does the commentary along with Starr Andreef (SKULLDUGGERY, NIGHTFALL, GHOULIES II, THE TERROR WITHIN, OUT OF THE DARK, DANCE OF THE DAMNED, SCANNER COP, AMITYVILLE: DOLLHOUSE, VAMPIRE JOURNALS, CLUB VAMPIRE) and writer Brent V. Friedman (EVIL ALTAR, SHATTERBRAIN, INFESTED, HELLBOUND [1994], DARK SKIES [TV], TWILIGHT ZONE [TV - 2002-200]).

So what's so special about SYNGENOR?

It's a sequel of sorts to William Malone's THE ABERDEEN EXPERIMENT aka SCARED TO DEATH. Malone (CREATURE, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL [1999], FEAR DOTCOM) had nothing to do with this other than his original Syngenor design.

The sequel creators weren't particularly big fans of his movie, but they were able to get the sequel rights cheap, they wanted an H.R. Giger style varmint, Malone owned the best Giger-esque creature copy of the ALIEN, so there you go. Malone had a script sequel in mind for his movie, and producer Murphy didn't think much of that either. Besides which, he already had a kind of story from some nobody named Michael Carmody (who was never heard of before or since). So they got Brent V. Friedman to rewrite it. Brent thought he could make it into a satire but he wasn't up to it.

Then, for reasons only producer Jack F. Murphy (INFESTED aka C2, PROGENY) can fathom, he hired TV game show Director George Elanjian Jr., who had never directed a feature film or any fiction in his life before or since. Apparently George has no interest in directing movies or television period, and even left cinema entirely in 1995 to take up still photography. What makes this doubly bizarre is that Jack F. Murphy had William Malone right there! And while Malone is not much of a screenwriter, he's a very good story teller and showed his directing chops even by 1990.

By the time writer Brent was done with it, there wasn't much left of Malone's script, so Brent took full credit for the story: adding the benefit of letting Malone off the hook.

The corporation interiors of SYNGENOR were shot in the same hotel where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Elite sold it as the "Lost David Gale" movie. How did it get lost? Watch it and you won't blame the culprits.

We start with Norton Cyberdyne (Ow! Ow! Ow!), the typical multinational corporation that produces military defense technology. But don't expect a THE TERMINATOR, ROBOCOP, or DEATH MACHINE here. This company with the uninspired rip-off name is out to make the Ultimate Weapon, which they believe is a slow moving varmint that takes quite a while to reach its target. But if the enemy has the patience to wait it out until the creature can finally get its hands on them, Hoo-BOY will they ever be sorry they waited!

SYNGENOR starts with a couple of Cyberdyne executives taking some party girls back to their corporate headquarters. Donnie (Roy Fegan), the lazy security guard monitors the cameras, sees the group, drinks a beer, and prepares for what he hopes will be an orgy.

One of the execs, Stan Armbrewster (Charles Lucia: HOSPITAL MASSACRE, SOCIETY, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, TANK GIRL), isn't as drunk as he pretends to be. Stan, along with executive Paula (Riva Spier: RABID) is setting up his fellow exec, PR man Calhoun, for death. Stan sends Donnie off on a fool's errand and introduces Calhoun and the ladies to the Syngenor: SYNthesized GENetic ORganism. Stan secretly unlocks the case containing the Syngenor and merry mishaps occur.

Meanwhile, Uncle Ethan Valentine (Lewis Arquette: THE CHINA SYNDROME, CHOPPER CHICKS IN ZOMBIE TOWN, SCREAM 2, TWILIGHT [1998], SPAWN [TV]) is working in his neighborhood garage lab, exploding oranges in the middle of the night. We all have our hobbies. There is a growl at the door and the man says, "Syngenor?"

His niece, Susie (Starr Andreef) comes home from a late date and looks for him. She finds him dying in the garage. Something ripped his dick off and Uncle says something about the reproductive pods.

As Susie attempts to call for help, the Syngenor attacks her. She counter-attacks it with a splash of water.

This is a supersoldier. The enemy can kill it with water.

Ahem...

I'd just like to point out that regular human soldiers, who aren't super, can withstand quite a few splashes of water.

Susie does a follow up attack with a hairspray blast of fire. Syngenors go up like a fuse when they catch fire, aren't smart enough to keep away from flame, and explode - even after you've doused them with water.

Ahem...!

I'd just like to point out that regular human soldiers, who aren't super, can overcome a hairspray blast of flame if by nothing else, moving out of range of the spray.

E-Gad!

Moving right along, a reporter, Nick Cary (Mitchell Laurence: STEPFATHER 2, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, ), wants to interview Cyberdyne CEO, Carter Brown. First he has to get past Carter Brown's dim, underage niece, Bonnie (Melanie Shatner: THHE FIRST POWER, CTHULHU MANSION, BLOODSTONE: SUBSPECIES II, BLOODLUST: SUBSPECIES III, THE ALIEN WITHIN). Bonnie is a hormonally driven horndog who digs older men, pretty much any older man, and would love nothing more than to let a smarmy doof into headquarters to talk to her uncle or the PR guy.

Well, Nick can't see the PR guy because he was murdered last night and Stan the executive assassin happens to pass by and blocks him. Which means he also can't talk to Carter Brown.

Meanwhile, Mr. Carter Brown (David Gale), enters the picture and ravenously chews up all the scenery that Production Designer R. Clifford Searcy (SEED PEOPLE) worked so hard to create.

During a board meeting, and to the company executives astonished surprise, the Syngenor creature, which they designed to reproduce every 24 hours asexually, has reproduced in the last 24 hours, and it did it asexually!

Holy crap, who saw THAT coming? Clearly not the people who designed it to do that very thing.

We're talking exponential divisions of Syngenors in a matter of hours!

We gotta do something about that Syngenor...er ... Syngenors!

But first, we have to do something about the ever growing mob of witnesses, starting with Susie! After all, Susie went to the cops about her Uncle after his death. Something must be done about Susie, because the city police apparently would never investigate a murder unless someone filled out a report first.

Susie is back home where she meets up with Nick Cary, who broke into her house and has been going through her personal belongings. Why? "Because I'm a reporter!"

I'd no idea that the first amendment went that far.

Back at the corporate office, Carter Brown is shooting up, needle in his head, with a green fluid. This is just to remind the audience that he was once in a cool movie where his head was shot up with a green fluid.

Bonnie goes down below into the basement, opens a locked refrigerator door that is clearly marked Biohazard, and asks if anyone is in there.

The Hell?!?

Two Syngenors get out and more merry mishaps occur.

Uncle Carter, who was over the edge from the start, is going stark raving koo koo berries and attacks Paula. Paula and Stan think this is a good thing as they want to take over the company and now they have proof that Carter is bananas. Carter goes off to shoot up again. Nick and Susie (disguised as his photographer, which is weird because everyone at the company is supposed to know her) return to Cyberdyne for that interview. Susie inexplicably trusts Nick though he has done nothing to earn it and isn't half the fighter she is.

Stan, the assassin cum new PR guy, loves nothing better than to talk about the top secret Syngenor project. And what is a Syngenor? Sorry, can't talk about that, it's top secret. But tell you what: turn off your recorder and I'll spill my guts. Stan proceeds to blow the lid off the Syngenor project in an effort to explain why he shouldn't do that very thing. It would be great if that was played for laughs, but it wasn't.

Jee-zus!

Oh, and I can't forget the...

!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERT!!!:
The UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERT or URCA? What's that? It's this: URCA.

There is only one minority person in this movie. And it's a Hollywood Horror movie. So guess what happens to him?

Check out the URCA/SYNGENOR.

Visual Effects artists Robert and Dennis Skotak (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, CREATURE, ALIENS, TERMINATOR 2, CAST A DEADLY SPELL, TANK GIRL, THE ARRIVAL, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL [1999], X2, TREMORS 4) contributed their talents as they were in desperate need of a paycheck (I've been there, don't blame them). William Malone suggested Creature fabricator Doug Beswick Studios (THE HOWLING, GHOSTSBUSTERS, CREATURE, THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS, TRICK OR TREAT, EVIL DEAD II, BEETLEJUICE, INFESTED, DARKMAN, BLADE, CROCODILE, SCARY MOVIE 2, FRAILTY, PULSE) to redesign the Syngenor, and Team Beswick came away with four varieties.

SYNGENOR is not without its moments, but blink and you'll miss them. Norton Cyberdyne had a Public relations commercial made of their Syngenor, which has clips of their fun and friendly Syngenor creature waving to the camera from the seat of a jeep.

Unfortunately, the pace is far too sluggish, too much time is spent on Carter Brown's showboating breakdown, and the movie spirals down into its own incompetence.

So what to make of SYNGENOR? This sequel to THE ABERDEEN EXPERIMENT brings all the bad baggage from that movie: A creature that tears you apart but really only wants to sip your brain fluid, via a teeny limp tongue that it puts in your mouth, while trusting that you won't bite it off. But true to the ALIEN rip-off that THE ABERDEEN EXPERIMENT was, SYNGENOR the sequel apes ALIENS. So instead of having a single varmint, this one has a bunch. And there's a little John Carpenter's THE THING thrown into the makeup of the creature for good measure.

One Shriek Girl.

Shriek Girls
This review copyright 2012 E.C.McMullen Jr.

Syngenor (1990) on IMDb
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