Has the back of a DVD case ever sold you better on a film than any trailer ever could? I can now say that, yes, a DVD case blurb sold me a product. Not due to its write up, that shit’s boring, but this line right here: ‘Considered by many to be the “lost David Gale film…”‘ One sentence undid all the banal, boring scifi monster schlock the write up was so enthusiastic about and meant I had to buy this, not to mention the gorgeous holo-foil blurb about Gale’s awesome role on the front. Shiny, shimmering, splendid. That’s how you sell a product, good job, marketing department.
USA, 1990, George Elanjin Jr.
With that out of the way… Syngenor. Yep. It’s a movie, for sure. I guess. It’s about the niece of a scientist who spent his leisure time exploding fruits with chemicals trying to uncover the reason for her uncle’s death. Meanwhile God Emperor Gale is dealing with his underlings trying to usurp his evil company throne. During all this there are fights with the Syngenors, hulking creatures created by said evil company – by the way, the company is called Norton Cyberdyne. Not sure how they got away with that, but it’s fine – for desert combat going on the building’s basement and occasionally on some other sets. These fights are weird, because we’re told over and over again that the things just don’t die. I mean, they say that, but during the first big fight we see several just get shot to death by the doofiest, least threatening grunts in film history. Not to mention their one defect; they melt on contact with water.
So when you realize the bad ass not-Gigers on the box are practically worthless, you see who the real villain is… David ‘Fucking’ Gale himself. Dude straight vaporizes one of his henchmen with a super laser and forces his staff into some kind of off screen blood orgy at one point. I think. Truthfully, the plot is a bit hard to follow, but the leads did happen upon the unconscious/dead and mostly nude bodies of Gale’s underlings in the building’s lobby in the final act. Where’s Gale during all this? At the top of his proverbial castle, looking down on our protagonists like the bizarre Eldritch god-being he, by all accounts, was. And wearing a bunny mask out of a slasher movie on the back of his head, at that. Bad guys get beat, Syngenors get blasted and melted, story resolved, end.
This shit blows. I hate to say that, too. I hate being negative about movies, especially when my negativity is wasted due to said movies being so obscure and bland. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a monster movie this bland. The only saving grace is our lord and savior David Gale. I mean, I guess the monsters look okay, too. I’m not the only one who thought so, either, which leads us to the movie’s interesting tidbits. First of all, it was directed by a non-director. According to his IMDB page, dude’s a paralegal in LA as of 2006 and Syngenor sticks out like a sore thumb among credits like Real Stories of the Highway Patrol and Playboy Video Magazine Volume 1. So that’s fun.
Beyond that, the most interesting info stems from both Gale’s involvement and its lineage. Despite not being mentioned anywhere on the box and absolutely not hinted at in any way during the movie itself, Syngenor is a sequel. Apparently the producer saw the original, Scared to Death, released back in 1980, and loved the Syngenor designs so much that he demanded a sequel. But, knowing that it had been ten years and Scared to Death wasn’t exactly a box office smash in the first place, he wanted something that wouldn’t alienate new viewers. So what that amounts to is an entirely unrelated story that contradicts the original – Syngenors didn’t liquefy on contact with water in Scared to Death and featured prominently in plenty of wet and wild scenes – and opens itself up to the mocks and groans of a whole new generation of film goers.
Even more interesting than its odd production choices are David Gale’s improvised moments and dedication to giving such a goofy role everything he has. If you’ve seen Guyver (1991) then Gale’s character will feel familiar. Take Balcus from that movie, make him even crazier, and you have Carter Brown, the best evil CEO in history. It was Gale’s decision to leave out the detail of just what glowing juice Brown constantly injects into his neck boil was, leading to a bizarre character trait that leaves you confused and curious. It was also Gale’s decision to wear his weird backwards bunny mask during the final act. Why? Because he felt it made him seem crazier. I mean… He’s not wrong. You could probably find other ways to hammer home the same point, maybe manic behavior and constant shouting, but then he’d just be playing himself, so kudos for that addition.
So Syngenor… yeah, buy it. Maybe rent it, if that’s still a thing you can do. As a film, it’s bland beyond reason. As a demo reel for an immensely awesome actor who has unfortunately left us, it’s amazing. I joke a lot about Gale in this review, but as a fan of his, let me tell those of you who aren’t familiar with his work something straight. The guy was amazing. He was able to chew scenery with such conviction and power that he transcended b-movie greats like Bruce Campbell and Robert Z’dar and became something more. He had such a presence, no matter what he was doing. Dude literally plays a human faced rat creature that licks a gigantic model of Barbra Campton’s ass in Full Moon’s The Evil Clergyman and somehow does it so well that it’s scary. Think about that shit.
If you decide to grab Syngenor, you have two DVDs to choose between. I have the Elite Entertainment disc and paid less than three dollars for it. The Synapse release is pretty cheap too, and there’s no real content or quality difference between the two from what I’ve read. You get plenty of cool extras either way. Only warning I have is that the Elite release seems to have some production issues. Mine froze a bit in the middle and I’ve seen at least one post mentioning the same.