December 28, 2014

Creek of the Week: Panic (Bakterion) (1982)

Directed by Tonino Ricci. Starring David Warbeck ("Captain Kirk"), Janet Agren ("Jane Blake"), Roberto Ricci ("Professor Adams"), José Lifante ("Sargeant O'Brien"). Rated R.

Source: Region 0 DVD (Mill Creek)
Running time: 01:31:29
Country: Italy, Spain
Availability: Chilling Classics 50-Pack, Tales of Terror 200-Pack - erroneously listed in both as PANIC (1976)

An experiment involving a mutated guinea pig goes awry. A scientist turns into a monster and goes on a killing spree. The scientist's employers attempt to cover up the incident. A detective named Captain Kirk (!!) investigates.

Initially, there's a ton of dialogue in this shlocky European horror flick and not much else. There's a whole bunch of confusing exposition and a tease about the aforementioned guinea pig possessing "the dimensions of a dog." The way it's set up, I was expecting this mutated scientist to creep around in the shadows with an enlarged rodent by his side (preferably on a leash made of human intestine), but alas the mammoth guinea pig's appearance was limited to a cameo when its corpse was found in a manhole - or at least I think that's what I saw. As you can see by the screenshots below, the picture quality is nothing to brag about. Meanwhile the monster briefly appears here and there to kill random people (usually attractive women), but the first act of the film mostly consists of scientists and police speculating about the same shit over and over again.

If you have any interest whatsoever in watching this movie, you're golden if you can make it through the sluggish first 30 minutes. From that point, the boring expositional dialogue takes a backseat to what essentially becomes a monster hunt, with the monster itself resembling one of the zombies from NIGHTMARE CITY with a bad limp. Actually, the creature sort of looks like a prototypical version of the Brundlefly, which is interesting.

There are very few highlights to speak of, but among them is a nightmarish sequence where the monster infiltrates a movie theater and goes berserk. Everyone hauls ass out of there except for an attractive young woman (naturally) who's just sitting there in the dark after the rest of the patrons ran for their lives and the mutant tore the screen to shreds. Even more baffling is the movie they were watching, which is essentially a montage of people driving through the countryside.

As with pretty much any European horror movie you'll find in the Mill Creek box sets, this one is edited. I haven't seen the proper, unedited version, but it's safe to assume that this one is missing a few seconds of nudity and gore. Not that it matters - this particular print is so dark that you probably wouldn't be able to see the goods anyway. As far as the violence, PANIC definitely has its share of the red stuff, but it never lingers on the gore, which can probably be attributed to the excluded footage.

The Good: The film feels very self-aware and seemingly aspires to be nothing more than a low-budget creature feature.
Also, Euro-horror street cred. This stars David Warbeck, who most might know for playing the male lead in THE BEYOND, and the foxy Janet Agren has appeared in CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, Sergio Martino's HANDS OF STEEL, and Umberto Lenzi's EATEN ALIVE.

The Bad: The sluggish, repetitive first act is hard to sit through. It literally took me two days of false starts just to make it to the middle act because I kept losing interest.
The Fugly: The lifeless dubbing.
Oh, and this:

The Verdict: Make no mistake: this is a bad movie. But, while undeniably flawed, I wouldn't call this a "skip". Most people buy Mill Creek box sets with the anticipation of being exposed to some cheesy horror movies that they otherwise probably wouldn't go out of their way to see, and, unless you're a Euro-horror enthusiast, PANIC is definitely one of those movies.

No comments:

Post a Comment