Embryo (1976)

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Embryo (1976)

Post  BoG on Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:09 pm

ROCK HUDSON in EMBRYO Like a Star @ heaven co-starring DIANE LADD
and BARBARA CARRERA Like a Star @ heaven special appearance by RODDY McDOWALL
Directed by RALPH NELSON
I don't recall when I first saw this one; probably on TV in the mid-eighties. There was a cheap double feature DVD release a few years back where this movie was paired with the telefilm Where Have All the People Gone? (1974) - a completely different subject matter. The video quality is pretty bad - average VHS standard.
This borrows a lot from the Dr. Frankenstein theme of scientists going a bit out of control - the god-complex in most scientists, this seems to say. It also reminded me of another film I re-watched recently, The Asphyx (1972), in which a scientist is driven to questionable extremes by personal tragedy. In this case, Rock Hudson plays an experimenter whose wife died recently. He has a grown married son and his dead wife's sister (Ladd) lives with him (and has for a long time; I wasn't very clear on this arrangement). Hudson actually starts his experiments with a dog, a Doberman which he hit with his car one rainy night. The dog happened to be pregnant and Hudson manages to save one of the fetuses with some new growth hormone. Uh-oh. In some ways, this is ahead of its time, more relevant now with recent controversy over stem cell research and the debate on when life truly begins (at 6 weeks or 6 months?).
The new dog actually becomes the star of the film; a side effect of Hudson's concoctions is that the subject develops insidious intelligence. Hudson, preoccupied, doesn't notice that his dog is almost as smart as a human, with devious personality traits. Hudson switches his attentions to a human female fetus and presto: Barbara Carrera! As mentioned above, Roddy McDowall shows up in one amusing scene at a party as a chessmaster; Carrera makes a fool of him by letting him win (very smart, she is). The whole thing becomes kind of icky as Carrera takes on the role of Hudson's new daughter, assistant and lover, while Diane Ladd is targeted by both the dog and the new woman. We know this is heading for more tragedy and the conclusion is overly grotesque, enough to drive Hudson totally bonkers; but Hudson underplays the role - he never really seems driven or slightly mad. Carrera has some nude scenes but comes across as a bit vapid and even droopy-faced. BoG's Score: 5 out of 10

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