This late entry in Antonio Margheriti’s extensive schlock filmography seems in its title to be coattail-riding James Cameron films like Aliens and The Abyss, though I get a sense that the makers didn’t actually look at those very much and just threw together whatever they could in the Philippines.
The first half is jungle action/adventure with a mostly non-comedic Romancing the Stone vibe as Greenpeace activist Jane (Marina Giulia Cavalli, billed as Julia Mc. Kay) gets onto an island run by the evil E-Chem corporation – their head honcho on the ground is snarling bastard Colonel Kovacks (Charles Napier) who is repeatedly grumbled at by grizzled .nuclear physicist Dr Geoffrey (Luciano Pigozzi, billed as Alan Collins) – to get the goods on their unethical disposal of radioactive waste by tipping barrels into a fissure in a cave under and active volcano. Photographer Lee (Robert Marius) gets captured and abused, but Jane hooks up with snake-hunter Bob (Daniel Bosch) – who puts his hands all over her in a supposed rescue after she’s plunged into a lake. It weirdly fumbles the infallible set-up of new-to-the-jungle heroine (she’s even called Jane) and capable macho guy who eventually falls for her – Jane, who does a spectacular dive out of a helicopter (half dummy, half actual stunt), is plainly capable and not really that nonplussed by the snakes and creepy-crawlies, while bespectacled Bob reads onscreen as a wimp rather than a tough guy.
It’d have made sense to make her the jungle-wise character and him a novice, but the film doesn’t go that route either – and, as it happens, the whole first half of the picture is wheel-spinning before we get to the monster stuff, possibly because Margheriti wasn’t that happy with the effects stuff and defaulted to just doing the jungle war schtick he’d tossed off in half a dozen films on the lines of Commando Leopard and Codename: Wildgeese. At mid-point, something from space splashes down near the island and an alien monster homes in on the radiation or something and everyone switches to monster-fighting with lumbering, full-size claws reaching into frame and eventually a giant-size biomechanical puppet (with one of the more blatant knobhead heads) lurching kaiji-like into explosions.
Doubtless coincidentally, it has many parallels with 1960s or 1970s Doctor Who base-under-siege plots – with Napier is the typical gruff boss who’s as much of a problem as the monster, Macra-like clumsy claws, a lot of running through caves and corridors, eco footnotes, extras getting got, throwaway sacrifices of major characters and plotting tailored to the limits of a tiny effects/sets budget. Scripted by Tito Carpi (Tentacles, Striker, The New Barbarians). Towards the end the music score suddenly gets a lot better, as Andrea Ridolfi music gives way to Robert O. Ragland cues lifted from Q The Winger Serpent. It’s kind of terrible but you wouldn’t want to change any of it – even the weirdly padded first half is consistently entertaining schlock and the action/monster stuff is big, bold, unselfconscious and hilarious in a way that more knowing, cynical rubbish tends not to be.