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original title: Underworld
duration: 1h 43min
tags: A horrible experiment. A criminal empire. One thing in common...
keywords: neonoir, brothel, mask, fantasysequence, retirement, rescue, chemicalformula, chemical, gang, dreamdrug, drugdealing, drugdealer, survival, doctor, hostage, sore, crimeboss, friendship, friend, drugus
When high class hooker Nicole is kidnapped from her brothel, Rich businessman Hugo Motherskille hires her ex love Roy Bain to find her. Investigating the disappearance, he eventually finds traces that lead to Dr. Savary, who has produced a strange white powder
that's coveted by a race of deformed human beings who live in the underworld in the sewers below the city. Given that this is based on a Clive Barker story, and contains some major acting talent it should be good. It's NOT good, and the blame for that rests
squarely with director George Pavlou.It could have been an interesting melding of the crime/horror genre, but takes every wrong turn possible.
Larry Lamb is a good actor, but he is so hopelessly miscast here as the hard man reluctantly dragged back into the criminal underworld, that there is a gaping hole at the heart of the film where a central character should be. In fact most of the normally reliable actors here, turn in awful performances.
The sets are awful (the neon tube underground lab looks like a Gary Numan stage set). The costumes are awful (the gangsters dress like Duran Duran). The music is awful, and the dialogue is awful. The script is so bad its difficult to imagine Barker had anything to do with it. At one point "our hero" is injected with the deadly transmutating drug, absolutely nothing happens to him, its simply not referred to again !. In playing down the horror element, and playing up the crime element, the producers missed an opportunity to produce a piece of contemporary horror, and instead produced a cheap looking Mockney version of Miami Vice. Most of the people involved leave this off their c.v.'s. I'd certainly leave it off your shopping list. A white drug created by Dr. Savary(Delholm Elliot)causes both Euphoria and mutations for those who use it. Hugo Motherskille(Steven Berkoff)is living large through "manufacturing" and enlists the aid of a painter, Roy Bain(Larry Lamb), a former employee known for his sleuthing abilities, to find a kidnapped prostitute, Nicole(Nicola Cowpar), taken from her brothel(by the mutants) as a bargaining chip for the drug in Savary's possession. Because he loves Nicole, Roy will indeed seek out her whereabouts but as he pursues what happened to her, Motherskille's association with Savary raises red flags. Roy's life will be in constant peril as he seeks answers in regards to what caused the mutants' afflictions and how Nicole plays into the grand scheme of things. Savary is the key to it all and Motherskille may be using Roy for other reasons besides finding Nicole. Nicole's immunity to the hideous side effects of Savary's drug enhances her importance to the scientist who wants to know how to get rid of the mutations which derive from its use. Ingrid Pitt has a small role as the madam over the brothel for which Nicole works, seemingly hiding a secret vital to Roy in his success. I don't think anyone will be surprised that Berkoff is more than he says he is..he has been the villain in way too many films to have us accept him as anything other than the root cause of what is transpiring, with Elliot(given star treatment)the mad scientist who took junkies and introduced them to a drug which not only addicts them but causes grotesque side effects, such as facial sores and malformations. Lamb is pretty much a private eye of the future who eventually sides with the victims of Savary's experiments, when those behind his hiring betray him. Some pretty gross make-up effects and a heavy emphasis on dark and blue(rarely does the film take place at all during the day), opting for a more neo-noir look instead. I was startled to learn that this movie was based on a story/screenplay by Clive Barker. George Pavlou not only directed this film with Barker's name attached, but also the next year's RAWHEAD REX(the film Barker has disowned). The stunning, sexy Irina Brook is a prostitute named Bianca who is in love with Roy, even saving him at one point in the movie. Hard to believe that's Miranda Richardson as one of the mutants, constantly demanding more of the white drug as the addiction has taken complete hold of her. In Germany an Extended Version was released on DVD that features nearly 12 minutes of new footage, mostly plot scenes.
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