Proteus (1995)

Proteus (1995)

Deep in the ocean, new form of horror is taking a shape…

A group of drug smugglers take shelter on an oil rig when their ship explodes. At first it appears that there is no one on board and it has been abandoned. However they find that the rig is home to a secret genetic engineering laboratory where the latest experiment has broken free.


Combine Alien and The Thing, take away all of the good bits and there you have this disappointing mess of a sci-fi horror flick. Proteus doesn’t really try to hide it’s plagiarism as there’s hardly a single original idea present. But it knows that people liked those other films so why try and change winning formulas? Bob Keen, the man behind the special effects in Candyman and Hellbound: Hellraiser II, directs but as we’ve seen before, special effects guys don’t make for great directors. They should stick to what they’re good at and the effects team here could certainly have used his help.

Proteus is clichéd and hokey but it doesn’t try and be anything other than that. It wastes little time getting down to business and the cast are stranded and being chased around within the first fifteen minutes. The oil rig setting does what it needs to do by providing plenty of dark rooms, narrow corridors and labyrinthine passageways and I wish a little more had been of this to create some more atmosphere. Of course the lazy script dictates that the cast must all go off and explore strange noises, split up when situations arise and generally do everything in their power to die horrible deaths. There is a scene in which the scientist, talking on a pre-recorded videotape, tells one of the characters exactly what has happened, what the creature is, etc. It’s a really cheap way to give the whole film some back story and purpose but it goes on for ages instead of briefly giving us the rundown.

The characters themselves are all thinly developed – they are supposed to be drug smugglers but look like the cast of one of these teen sitcoms. And are we supposed to root for them given that they are in the drugs trade? They’re not the sort of people I’d want to be cheering along. At least there is better luck on the acting side. Craig Fairbrass is pretty good as the action hero and despite his British accent, he manages to act the part of a tough guy drug dealer. Doug Bradley (aka Pinhead) also pops up towards the end but he’s given a pointless throwaway role as the token company boss who wants to preserve the creature, etc. Needless to say that the rule of being a token company boss means you have to die pretty nasty death at the hands of the very creature you want to protect.

What would this film be without the Proteus creature? Well because it ‘absorbs’ people, the makers of the film got away with having to do lots of expensive creature shots. It’s taken over the body of one of the characters so they just use POV shots from that character – it’s a cheap way out and is almost like one of those damned ‘body swapping’ films I hate so much where parasites take over a human host body and remain hidden, without revealing itself at all. At least The Thing had plenty of gruesome effects amongst the paranoia with trying to work out who was who. This doesn’t. Even the end product, when the creature is revealed, looks like a remnant from Carpenter’s superior film. You only see brief glimpses of the creature but it looks reasonable enough for the special effects team to have had a little more faith in their end product. We learn that the creature is a result of the mixture of human and shark DNA so you can imagine the sort of thing you’ll be faced with in the finale. The effects budget didn’t even stretch far enough to show a bit of blood and, a throat ripping aside, most of the deaths are simply gooey rather than gory.


Proteus is an uninspiring, pointless waste of time which will do little to convince you that there is life outside the top films of the genre. You can do worse though, which is the most terrifying thing of all.





Post a comment