English-speak­ing fans of Italian gen­re fare pri­mar­i­ly know George Eastman, a.k.a. Luigi Montefiore, as an actor who popped up in films as diverse as The Grim Reaper, 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Erotic Nights Of The Living Dead. However, it’s also worth not­ing that he has also enjoyed a side­line as a screen­writer that actu­al­ly out­lived his pro­lific act­ing career. He even dab­bled in direct­ing: Metamorphosis is prob­a­bly the most-seen of his films in the U.S.   It’s not what you would call good but it’s an inter­est­ing foot­note to the dying days of shot-in-America Italian hor­ror cheap­ies.Meta-pos

Metamorphosis tack­les the mad sci­en­tist sub­gen­re that lives between hor­ror and sci­ence fic­tion, with sig­nif­i­cant debts to Altered States, Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde and the 1986 ver­sion of The Fly. The pro­tag­o­nist is Peter Houseman (Gene Le Brock), a pro­fes­sor whose cel­lu­lar regen­er­a­tion exper­i­ments are in dan­ger of being cut short when his col­lege objects to his use of human tis­sue. Peter decides to use his lat­est for­mu­la on him­self to pro­duce some results that will save his fund­ing. Soon, Peter is hav­ing weird gaps in his mem­o­ry that are con­cur­rent with a madman’s vio­lent ram­pages — and he begins to expe­ri­ence phys­i­cal changes that sug­gest he is expe­ri­enc­ing the tit­u­lar phe­nom­e­non.

Metamorphosis is an odd lit­tle beast: the plot has a few inven­tive touch­es, like Peter expe­ri­enc­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal change before the phys­i­cal changes begin — com­plete with black­outs that he has to fig­ure out. The use of Virginia as a set­ting also gives it a unique look.

Meta-BeyD-bluHowever, Metamorphosis is also daft in that late ‘80s/early ‘90s Italian hor­ror way: the stuff that works is out­num­bered by sil­ly ele­ments like Peter wig­gling on the floor snake-style as his trans­for­ma­tion kicks in, rubbery/goofy-looking trans­for­ma­tion make­up, a cheap yet bom­bas­tic syn­th score and an array of stilt­ed per­for­mances from no-name American actors who don’t have cred­its out­side the­se Italian flicks, includ­ing a tru­ly wretched child actor. The finale also hits a dis­tinc­tive blend of cheap­ness and unin­ten­tion­al hilar­i­ty with the final trans­for­ma­tion and even throws in a laugh-out-loud “sur­prise twist” coda.

Thus, Metamorphosis is best left to addicts of Italian exploita­tion cin­e­ma who might find its weirdo kitsch sen­si­bil­i­ties enter­tain­ing (they’ll be inter­est­ed to see a cameo from Emanuelle series star Laura Gemser, who also served as cos­tume design­er here). It’s the kind of junky Italian fare that sep­a­rates the hard­core com­pletists from the rest of the cine-trash pack.

Blu-Ray Notes: Metamorphosis is being released by Scream Factory on August 25th as half of a dou­ble-bill blu ray with Beyond Darkness. Detail is a bit soft on the trans­fer and there is some dim­ness in the inte­ri­or pho­tog­ra­phy, though the lat­ter seems to be a reflec­tion of how it was shot. The 2.0 audio is a bit over­mod­u­lat­ed in spots but lis­ten­able over­all. The one extra for the film is a trail­er… but you do get Beyond Darkness in full as part of the pur­chase price.