aka TERMINATOR 2
(Italy - 1989)
Directed by Vincent Dawn (Bruno Mattei). Written by Clayde Anderson (Claudio Fragasso). Cast: Cristofer Ahrens, Haven Tyler, Geretta Giancarlo Field (Geretta Geretta), Tony Lombardo (Fausto Lombardi), Mark Steinborn, Dominica Coulson, Clive Ricke, Paul Norman Allen, Cortland Reilly, Richard Ross, Bruce McFarland, Al McFarland. (Unrated, 90 mins)
For fans of Eurocult cinema, Italian ripoffs are among the most essential and endearing offerings. The flood of imitations in the wake of huge hits like THE GODFATHER, THE EXORCIST, STAR WARS, DAWN OF THE DEAD, ALIEN, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, THE ROAD WARRIOR, and RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II only gained momentum in the 1980s when video stores needed product and Italy was offering a seemingly endless supply. Perhaps no other genre-hopping journeyman epitomized the concept of the shameless Italian ripoff more than Bruno Mattei, or, as he's known under his most frequently-employed pseudonym, "Vincent Dawn." Born in 1931, Mattei began his career as an editor in the late 1950s, usually on undistinguished and instantly obscure post-HERCULES peplum, and later, third-tier spaghetti westerns and 007 knockoffs. He's the credited editor on Jess Franco's COUNT DRACULA (1970) and would later work for Joe D'Amato on 1976's BLACK COBRA. By the late '70s, Mattei shifted into directing, with a couple of 1977 Nazisploitation outings with SS GIRLS and WOMEN'S CAMP 119, followed by some dalliances with nunsploitation (THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA, THE OTHER HELL), zombies (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD aka NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES), post-nuke (RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR), women-in-prison (CAGED WOMEN, WOMEN'S PRISON MASSACRE), and even a Lou Ferrigno vehicle for Cannon (THE SEVEN MAGNIFICENT GLADIATORS). Mattei had a collaborative partnership with writer and future TROLL 2 auteur Claudio Fragasso, and the pair would frequently work as a team behind the camera, sometimes sharing credit with a pseudonym like "Stefan Oblowsky" on the nunsploitation films. In 1987, Mattei directed and Fragasso scripted the RAMBO ripoff STRIKE COMMANDO, their first effort for Italian producer Franco Gaudenzi. Gaudenzi's career in movies began with Mattei as part of the Joe D'Amato stock company, working as a set decorator, art director, and eventually assistant director on BLACK COBRA and the 1979 cannibal/necrophilia classic BEYOND THE DARKNESS. Mattei and Gaudenzi went way back, and when Gaudenzi formed his company Flora Film and became a producer based primarily in the Philippines, he had plenty of work for Mattei and Fragasso.
one where a meter shows the creatures closing in on them and somebody yells "That's impossible, they'd already be here!" and another where two people are seen on a monitor silently waving for help but the mission's saboteur stealthily turns it off) but the characters themselves are exact replicas. There's the team of military badasses led by the hysterically raging Koster (Geretta Geretta, best known as the doomed Rosemary from DEMONS and credited here as "Geretta Giancarlo Field"), who's a composite of ALIENS' Vasquez and Apone; Sarah (Haven Tyler), a scientist and the Ripley-like outsider sent along as a consultant; young orphan and Newt stand-in Samantha (Dominica Coulson); and special ops badass Samuel Fuller (Cristofer Ahrens), an operative from "The Tubular Corporation," which sounds about as believable as Vandelay Industries, who eventually functions as SHOCKING DARK's Burke but in a completely different way. You see--and SPOILERS follow--SHOCKING DARK isn't content to just rip off one classic James Cameron film. It's also a knockoff of THE TERMINATOR, a mid-film twist hinted at by naming Tyler's character "Sarah." The mutant creatures eventually take a backseat once "Samuel Fuller" is exposed as a cyborg hellbent on sabotaging the mission. Though the film was made as SHOCKING DARK, it was eventually retitled by Gaudenzi and sold as...wait for it..TERMINATOR 2 (!), flashing back to the practice of Italian ripoffs being passed off as sequels to blockbuster American movies.