AKA: Sick Sock Monsters from Outer Space
Director: Alberto Genovese
Writer: Massimo Vavassori
Starring: Alessandro Bianchi, Giovanni De Giorgi, Marco Antonio Andolfi, Paola Masciadri, Massimo Muntoni, Alberto Pagnotta

In an unspecified year in the future, the Captain Pixws and his space pirate crew are forced to deliver tanning showers to every corner of the universe. Dolcezza Extrema starship will live an extraordinary adventure.

I feel that this review is almost pointless as after reading that synopsis the majority of film fans will have already decided if this film is for them or not. Clearly this film is absolutely bonkers, as a former drug taking hard rocker Captain Pixws (Giovanni De Giorgi) hurtles through space to sort out these bloody tanning showers and his crew of a plankton-loving (sock) fish, a desperate doctor who needs crew members to get ill in order to remain in a job and also nymphomaniac puppet who just wants satisfaction.

This plot is intentionally bizarre and the film revels in its own insanity proving at times hilarious while potentially borderline satirical of today’s body worship culture. Oh did I not mention that as well as tanning showers the beings in this film have to work out and achieve good bodies in order to stay warm enough to live. Yep, you read that right. So is this a take on today’s body worship culture or just a tale of ridiculous absurdity?

Away from the unique plot the fact that the film is filled with relatively cheap yet effective CGI (it was shot in front of a green screen) and some pretty nifty sock puppets, of which credit has to be given to the crew for the majority for, which rather than being just a quirky gimmick actually turn out to be a rather inventive bit of fun.

Additionally the music, courtesy of Antony Coia deserves special mention which on the whole was nicely done, varied and slightly bonkers; perfectly suiting the tone of the movie. One downside however is that even at just 80 minutes DOLCEZZA EXTREMA does unfortunately lag in some places and disappears into its own vortex of absurdity at others and so could benefit from a little bit more editing to tighten it up and add to the punchiness as witnessed in the trailer. Talking of punchiness the humour was a little hit and miss for me and I believe it will be for a number of viewers also but thankfully it is not jarring or too far off in terms of intention and so does not negate the overall experience of watching the film.

Born outoof a love for film and creativity this is a film which can be best described as a charming oddity, one that unsurprisingly had been picked up by Troma and distributed under the title SICK SOCK MONSTERS FROM OUTER SPACE, and it is either a piece of satirical genius or simply the writer Massimo Vavassori and director Alberto Genovese having fun and letting us join in with the laughs…I would recommend you have a drink beforehand and just go with the flow.

So if you are looking for a sexualised, surreal sci-fi film with puppets then DOLCEZZA EXTREMA is the film for you. If not, well I doubt you even made it this far in the review.

As well as Troma the film is distributed in Italy (and so should be reasonably accessible for all Europeans) on DVD and Blu-ray and if you are lucky you will be able to pick up a copy with a sock puppet! Makes sense and is certainly better than just a cardboard slip (which you may also get with certain editions).



AKA: L’uomo con il mio nome
Director:  Simon O’Neill
Writer: Simon O’Neill
Year: 2017
Starring: Simon O’Neill, Ruggero Deodato, Luigi Cozzi, Catriona MacColl

Irish writer/director Simon O’Neill investigates the career of the only Simon O’Neill more popular than him on the IMDB – who just so happens to be the Italian scriptwriter Giovanni Simonelli.

After a brief introduction on who he is (he’s Simon O’Neill) and who the other Simon O’Neil’s are on IMDB we get started with a whistle-stop tour of some of the career highlights from Italian scriptwriter Giovanni Simonelli aka Simon O’Neill.

This straightforward opening sets out the premise quite clearly, instantly drawing loose comparisons to the British TV series ‘ARE YOU DAVE GORMAN?’, but although THE MAN WITH MY NAME is centred around this novel concept it is certainly not limited to it.

With the purpose of this documentary now explained we take to the road in a bid to hunt down more information on Simonelli, beginning in the most unlikely of places – Luton!

Here Simon meets a talkative Ruggero Deodato and they discuss not only the translation of an Irish name but also the use of pseudonyms in the Italian industry during the sixties and seventies. This is an area we all know a bit about but in my opinion is never discussed enough, and so it is a pleasant surprise that this topic forms a significant part of the documentary as Catriona MacColl, Luigi Cozzi and (archive footage of) Antonio Margheriti, a frequent collaborator of Giovanni Simonelli, all go on to discuss the necessity of changing one’s name in order to boost the chances of success, be it with English-speaking audiences or even Italian.

On an unrelated note, one thing that does come across during the discussion with Luigi Cozzi, is how alive he becomes when talking about film and the industry. As always he is captivating and so easy to listen to, cementing his place as one of the sweetest guys in horror and sci-fi.

Back to the documentary and at this point it is in danger of being sidetracked away from the actual premise but through a Simonelli related story, Cozzi brings things full circle and we are back on track.

Lead first by some archive footage of the man himself, the late Giovanni Simonelli, we are soon joined by his son who seems genuinely surprised and curious that a random Irish man was making a short film about his father.

Although clearly shot on a very low budget, THE MAN WITH MY NAME works not just on an endearing labour of love level but because, no doubt thanks to Simon O’Neill’s professional experience, it provides a tightly edited and terrifically structured look at both an unsung member of the Italian b-movie scene and also the nuances of working in the fringes of Italian cinema as the brief running time touches on additional topics such as the anglicising of names and the disdain of native audiences for the work of their own countrymen. It is also refreshing for once to not have the subject as a Dario Argento or a Lucio Fulci, but rather someone who perhaps is not well known even though their films are.

A celebration of Italian b-movies and those who helped bring them to us, THE MAN WITH MY NAME is light-hearted, fun and guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of fans of Italian genre cinema. Admittedly for some this may come across as too lightweight, but it was never meant to be a detailed analysis and should not be judged as such.

Sure if it had bigger budget then it would look more polished and ok it could have featured more clips and longer interviews but that is not what this is necessarily about nor is it really in the spirit of what I believe Simon O’Neill set out to achieve.

The Man with My Name is currently on the festival circuit. Find out more information on the official website.

Version reviewed:

An online screener of the film.



Alternative Titles: Alien Contamination; Alien on Earth; Toxic Spawn
Director: Luigi Cozzi
Writer: Luigi Cozzi, Erich Tomek
Year: 1980
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino Mase, Sigfried Rauch

A cargo ship drifts into New York harbour. Its crew: all dead, their bodies horribly mutilated, turned inside –out by an unknown force. Its freight: boxes upon boxes of growing, pulsating green eggs. It soon becomes clear that these eggs are not of this planet, and someone intends to cultivate them here on Earth. But who? And to what end? [Taken from the Arrow blu-ray release]

Released only a year after Ridley Scott’s seminal ALIEN, Luigi Cozzi has openly stated that he never set out to copy this film but nonetheless due to just a couple of story choices many people have, incorrectly, dismissed CONTAMINATION as just an another Italian rip off. 

Opening with a helicopter over New York city we quickly discover a seemingly abandoned cargo ship that on further investigation turns out to not be as abandoned as first thought. With the crew all brutally killed all that is left are strange green eggs. Strange indeed.

With this initial set up now established writer/director Luigi Cozzi wastes no time getting to the action and within the first ten minutes we have our first (slo-mo) chest bursting sequence and we can tell that this sci-fi adventure is going to pack a punch.

After this incident NYPD Lt. Tony Aris (Marino Masé) is taken in for questioning by Col. Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau) and they discover that what they are dealing with is not of this world. This first act of the film is well paced and helps to set up the remainder of the story, aided by the strong chemistry between the two leads which allows Cozzi’s under-appreciated humour to shine through. 

Already, as previously mentioned, the viewer is able to determine that this film – at least plot wise – is not an ALIEN imitator despite liberally borrowing specific elements of that film.

By this point of the story our leads have discovered that although these eggs are from space, that someone must have brought them back. With that revelation former astronaut, Commander Hubbard (Ian McCulloch) is brought into the mix. The introduction of McCulloch is well timed and helps maintain the films momentum while driving the story into the second act and, as ever, McCulloch is on top form as the pitiful, disgraced alcoholic Hubbard. From here on out it the film becomes more of an action-romp as the trio set out to uncover the mystery and save the world culminating in a gripping finale with the unveiling of the gelatinous tentacle waving Cyclops overlord and Hubbard’s transformation back to the hero he once was.

For me, whether he is firing his rifle madly or cracking a joke, McCulloch steals the show adding an extra level of entertainment thanks to his strong performance and interaction with the other two key characters. The casting of McCulloch was particularly inspired thanks to his popularity not just in the TV show SURVIVORS but off the back of his tremendous performance in ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS, the success of which is believed to have helped his land this role.

Cozzi shows his ability to carve a decent story and then back it up with a competent level of directorial skill but more importantly considering the budget, he shows his creativity to defy budget limitations as he utilises the darkness and shadows to great effect in the underground scenes while making use of multiple cuts in the finale to overcome obvious defects with the monster. But I would once again like to bring up the script and the humour contained within. Cozzi sometimes states that people did not get the humour but it is in there and works really well providing a tonal balance to the film and giving it that extra layer of enjoyment.

This is a fun and entertaining film that is much more than of its parts and this release in particular should be a definite purchase for all genre and cult film fans. Sure there are some flaws and a couple of the sets look cheap (not to mention an ineffective final monster) but what do you expect from a film now thirty-five years old.

On a side note, oddly enough despite being a Sci-Fi fantasy film, CONTAMINATION still managed to end up on the UK’s Video Nasty list, but was not prosecuted, meaning that star Ian McCulloch featured in three investigated films (ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST). The film would then be passed not only uncut but with a 15 rating 24 years later.

Version Reviewed:
I watched the 2015 Arrow blu-ray release and once again Arrow hit it out of the park with the additional features. The dual disc (blu ray/dvd) release also features the older documentary ‘Luigi Cozzi on Contamination’ which provides an interesting insight to the films genesis alongside behind the scenes footage detailing how things were actually shot and the challenges the cast and crew faced.

Alongside this is a fantastic Q&A with Ian McCulloch and Luigi Cozzi. Filmed at one of the Abattoir film festivals this Q&A just goes to reinforce both the genuine nature of both of its contributors as they run through 40 minutes of delightful anecdotes and background information from their own perspective of the films history. Sadly, the ‘Sound of the Cyclops’ feature with Goblin keyboardist Maurizio Guarini, in which he discuses the score and a lifetime of making music for Italian horror is a little dry and adds (relatively) little compared to the other features despite its diverse angle of approach.

Back on track is the more recent ‘Luigi Cozzi Vs Lewis Coates’ interview in which Cozzi looks back on his entire career which is fascinating viewing and provides a bit more detail to some answers he gives in the earlier Q&A particularly in how disappointed he was with the final Cyclops that he was forced to use in the films finale.

The extra features do not stop there however as we get a critical analysis of the Italian genre movies which sought to cash-in on popular Hollywood blockbusters and the wider breath of this review is refreshing and sure to be of interest of anyone interested in Italian and cult cinema. Also featured is a theatrical trailer, a graphic novel based on the original screen play and an audio commentary with Chris Alexander who is also the primary contributor to the collectors booklet also included.

The film itself has been restored in 2K  and is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks fantastic. Overall this is a phenomenal package giving new life to a little known sci-fi entry from thirty five years ago that still holds up today.