Syngenor (1990)

Syngenor (1990)

Product of science – nightmare from hell

A group of genetically-engineered super soldiers called Syngenor (SYNthesized GENetic ORganism), designed for combat in the desert and impervious to bullets and extreme temperatures, are released from their holding cells at a research lab and proceed to kill anyone who gets in their way.

 

Futuristic trash from the 80s and 90s always provides somewhat of a glimpse of what the future could hold – well at least in the minds of crazy science fiction and horror writers. From slasher efforts like Chopping Mall with robot security guards to Class of 1999 with it’s android teachers to more respected stuff like Robocop with it’s corporate takeover outlook, it is pretty funny to see what sort of wacky ideas filmmakers come up with. Here we have Syngenors, stupid monsters which look like the illegitimate children of the Gill Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon. Syngenor may be one of the last of the ‘men-in-monster-suits’ films as the dawn of CGI and cheap, straight-to-TV movies was upon us. I can’t imagine someone like the Sci-Fi Channel going and making something as costly and cumbersome as the creatures here.

Made in 1990, Syngenor looks like it came right out of the early 80s school of cheap knock-offs. You’ve got really bad optical effects. There are men-in-rubber suits. There are really cheesy costumes. There’s plenty of nudity. There are more monster movie clichés than you can shake a stick at. It’s the type of film that really needed a bigger budget to live up to its scope and potential. Instead we get cost-cutting austerity measures where the cast number about twenty in total (which is ridiculous to say that this is supposed to be a huge corporate facility), the creature itself is a recycled costume from Scared to Death and sets are so sparsely decorated, the film may as well have been set in an empty room.

The syngenor creatures themselves are ridiculous. They’re supposed to be impervious to bullets and are indestructible fighting soldiers. But here they are scared of fire, melt in water and generally seem easy to kill with whatever the cast can lay their hands upon. About ten of them are wasted during the course of the film. They can apparently reproduce every 24 hours but that’s actually assuming any of them last that long. The amount of screen time they get is limited but they look really pathetic when they’re on screen. Lumbering around in cheap, rubbery Alien-esque suits, the guys inside struggle to walk in straight lines and bump into walls and furniture. They’re slow and sluggish and you really wonder just why they’re being developed. And the worst part is that they’ve constantly seen in brightly-lit corridors and rooms. Why expose the deficiencies of your creatures? Why not hide them away in darkness where they would at least look a little frightening?

Between random syngenor attacks, the rest of the running time devotes itself to a few bizarre sub plots. The main one involves corporate infighting and the determination of some slime balls to get to the top of their company. It’s just like Robocop but without the awesome Ronny Cox or Miguel Ferrer swearing their heads off at each other. Characters are annoying, bitchy or generally slimy executives who will do anything to climb the corporate ladder. The chief suit, played with manic relish by David Gale, is going crazy too and spends most of the film doing insane things like wearing bunny ears. The dialogue is atrocious and the acting is even more wooden, Gale apart. He seems to know what sort of turkey he’s starring in and is determined to make himself stand out as much as possible. It’s not a great performance, it’s a fun performance. He’s not taking it seriously and having a blast doing so. The problem is that the rest of the cast, the writers, the directors – everyone – is making this as serious as possible. It’s just way too goofy to take seriously, especially when Gale’s character pulls out a ray gun towards the end of the film.

 

Syngenor is a piece of almost unviewable nonsense that is just about rubbish enough to garner itself cult status. Its harmless enough B-movie trash which tries it’s best to impress, it just had neither the money nor talent to do so.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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