Editor’s Notes: Joe Dirt & Contamination are out on their respective formats July 7th.
Contamination (Arrow) is directed by Luigi Cozzi, who’s known for making low-budget copies of successful American films, such as Starcrash (Star Wars), Monster Shark (Jaws), and Hercules (Conan the Barbarian). Contamination is inspired by — if not copied from — Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), with a few slight changes. An unmanned ship containing deadly alien eggs and mutilated bodies on board enters New York City’s waters. The eggs soon begin to explode like grenades, causing anyone close by to implode. When someone recalls that an astronaut on a Mars mission had mentioned something about eggs, an expedition is put together to seek him out in South America.
The film has plenty of gore, but lacks the genuine suspense of Alien. The pod spores in Contamination are filled with lethal flesh-dissolving acid, one of the movie’s primary special effects. There’s also a scene of an alien laying eggs, a scene portrayed later in James Cameron’s Aliens. What Cozzi goes for is one-upping Alien with considerably more exploding bodies. He achieves this, but at the expense of performances and story. It’s basically a bloodfest, which serious fans of horror might enjoy. For others, the violence will seem excessive and gratuitous. Gruesome special effects are fine when they enhance or shore up the plot. In Contamination, they are showcase moments sprinkled into an unoriginal script.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray release include a 2014 Q & A with director Luigi Cozzi and star Ian McCulloch; archive documentary hosted by the director containing behind-the-scenes footage; reversible sleeve containing original and newly commissioned art work; and a collector’s booklet illustrated with original archive stills and posters.
Joe Dirt (Sony Home Entertainment) is a Cinderella story muddied and soiled by crass humor, tasteless visual images, and a puerile sense of what constitutes “funny.” The title character (David Spade) works as a janitor at a Los Angeles radio station. After being abandoned by his parents at the Grand Canyon at the age of 8, Joe sets out to find his parents. Enroute, he manages to get himself into unlikely, contrived situations. Spade’s Joe is an innocent, and is supposed to elicit sympathy as he navigates a world that has not been kind to him.
Wigged in an exaggerated mullet, which is one of the movie’s main sight gags, Spade goes through an awful script with trooper determination to get to the end credits in one piece. From his work on Saturday Night Live and his talent for creating characters, we know Spade is capable of far better than what this sad excuse for comedy offers.
Jokes and sight gags are scatter gunned with little cohesion. Celebrity cameos by Dennis Miller, Kid Rock, Kevin Nealon, and Adam Beach do little to shore up the comedy. Christopher Walken co-stars as Clem, a very strange school janitor, and neatly steals the picture. Walken is unique among today’s actors. His mere presence can elicit smiles, and he’s very funny here, illustrating how weak and desperate the rest of the movie’s comedy is.
Bonus features on this new-to-Blu-ray release include commentary with director Dennie Gordon and David Spade, outtakes, blooper reel, deleted scenes, original theatrical trailer, and the featurette Joe Dirt - The Return: The Making of Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser.
For over 25 years, I was the Film and Home Entertainment Reviewer for "The Villadom TIMES," a New Jersey weekly newspaper, and have written for several other publications. I developed and taught a Film Studies program for two New York City high schools that included Film History, Horror/Fantasy, and Film Making.