The Kindred (Anthony) 1987 Sci-Fi / Horror / Monster Movie review.
"MISTAKE ARE HUMAN. THIS ONE ISN'T"
Kindred, released in 1987 both theatrically and on video across different regions, is a films that for some reason, has never had a decent DVD release. Allegedly there was an Australian release in 2006, but it was from a VHS print, so didn't really offer any step up in picture quality.
I've toyed with the idea of trying to find out how to go about it as a project for Vetala, but to be honest, I can imagine the cost of doing so would be prohibitive at best and lets face it, as a DIY record label, it's hard enough to sell obscure music releases let alone figure out how to market and shift a bunch of DVDs.
That aside, this film is great! It's sits well with other 80's Sci-Fi / Horror from the likes of Roger Corman, or a Full Moon / Charles Band film on steroids, with better lighting, cinematography and a sense of maturity in the storyline. The film boasts a suitably warbley synth soundtrack (by David Newman), which adds to the charm.
The picture quality is gritty and complemented by murky but well executed lighting, which works well with the creature effects and general sinister mood. Some of the acting is a bit hammy in places and the film overall has a relatively low budget feel, however enough budget for some wrecked cars, decent locations and fun special effects. These all give me solid reason to love it.
Directors, Stephen Carpenter (went on to direct episodes of TV series 'Grimm') and Jeffrey Obrow, worked together on two films prior: 'The Dorm That Dripped Blood,' a Slasher Flick and 'The Power,' a supernatural thriller. The Kindred built on their previous efforts, upping the stakes in terms of a more visually complex film, in terms of effects and plot development.
Creature effects by Michael John McCracken, who also worked on 'The Ice Pirates,' a pretty awful space-comedy featuring Anjelica Huston and Ron Pearlman.
Makeup and effects handled by the illustrious Matthew Mungle, a veteran who's work has been seen on 'Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors,' 'Edward Scissorhands,' 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' to TV series 'Salem' and many other notable titles.
A young geneticist John Hollins (David Allen Brooks,), visits his Mother Amanda (also a scientist,) in hospital after she has suffered a heart attack. John is tasked with trying to find and destroy all evidence of her genetic experiment, along with his hitherto unmet brother. Amanda pleads with John to burn everything! John is escorted away as hospital staff tend to his overexcited mother.
Some time later, Dr Lloyd, the unscrupulous ex research partner of interrogates John's mother as she lies in her hospital bed, as to the whereabouts of the Anthony journals. He watches her die as she threatens to do everything she can to end him.
At his mother's funeral John meets Melissa Leftridge (Amanda Pays,**) an mentee of his mother, also researching hemocyanin. John invites her to come up to his mother's house to help search for the journals and go through his mother's research work.
John and his girlfriend Sharon head up to the house, the power is out, John fires up the old generator. A strange smell is coming up from the basement through the rotting floorboards, the two explore the rest of the house and find that John's old room has been turned into an expansive laboratory. John finds some reel to reel tapes, the music upon which awakens something that shoots up a tentacle and attacks the poor little dog.
Unaware, the two settle in for the night. Melissa sneaks in, arriving unexpectedly early. John finds her in the lab and they inspect some of the equipment. The trio are joined by John's research assistants the next morning.
They start trying to organise John's mother's stuff and Sharon searches for Duke, the dog in vain. Baxter kisses Melissa and is taken aback by something he finds strange about the way she feels.
Outside, a tentacle snakes towards the watermelon Nell, one of the research crew, bought for her parents' 35 wedding anniversary. Baxter almost cuts the watermelon open, but Nell stops him, getting Hart to take it to her car. She drives off to see her parents with the watermelon.
On the drive, something stirs in the watermelon. A tentacle emerges, followed by others, which force their way into forced into Nell's ear, right nostril, mouth and around her throat. We see the first glimpse of the creatures face in the rearview mirror. Nell struggles to get free, losing control of the car, driving through a fence into the water.
Melissa emerges from her swim in the sea, meeting John. They discuss the ethics of Hybridisation.
Cindy finds and plays a tape, upon which John's mother's speaks of her experiments with Hemocyanin and hybridisation. On the recording you can hear inhuman screams. John's mother asks Anthony to be calm and sings a soft melody, which john recalls she would sing to him.
Hart finds Duke's dead body in the barn and is attacked by more tentacles and we see another of the creatures. Hart narrowly escapes. Melissa find him and hears the screams of the hybrid. She tells Hart to say a mad dog attacked him as, '...we don't wana panic everybody." They get Hart to hospital. In the hospital, John reads Hart's chart and mutters "Hemocyanin."
Melissa finds a lab hidden somewhere deeper under the house and in which she uncovers John's mother's journals. She finds an array of jars with what look like foetuses in them. One is bubbling away. She opens it and the small creature within fixes it's stare upon her. The little goober pops up out of the jar, trying to get out. She crams the lid on, wrestling with the creature, severing its right arm at the elbow in the process.
John returns from the hospital and reassures the others Hart will be ok. John reports Hart had traces of hemocyanin in his blood - they defer to Melissa for her expertise on what could have attacked him and question her. she makes excuses.
In private, Sharon voices concerns about John and Melissa's working together. She noticed he is attracted to Mellissa.
Subsequently, Melissa makes advances on John, offering wine for a celebration and kissing him. He turns her down, saying he can't. Melissa says, it's fine to be friends and toast to memories that don't get made. She jokes about sneaking into his bed. john cautions that Sharon is a light sleeper.
Melissa sneaks into John and Sharon's bedroom and takes the car keys. Using John's car, she delivers one of the hybrids to Dr Lloyd, for whom she has been spying, as payment for his treatment of a rare illness she has contracted. She tells him she doesn't want to go back to the house to spy on the others. Dr Lloyd blackmails her into returning to the house to capture Anthony, then he will make her a more effective drugs to counteract her illness.
At the hospital, whilst visiting Hart, John and Cindy get a sample of his Hemocyanin filled blood culture.
Back at the house, Baxter is going through computer files and find an entry saying Anthony was destroyed by electrocution: project terminated due to uncontrolled growth.
John returns announces some news from the Doctor at the hospital, Billy Cavenaugh, his mother's handyman was found dead. The hospital reported large amounts of Hemocyanin present in his blood. There's confrontation between John and Melissa about his concerns about the creature and his intention to terminate it.
The generator gives out. John asks Mellisa if she took the car out the previous night.
Baxter is syphoning fuel out of the car for the generator. John talks through the missing fuel with Baxter, who tells John he thinks Melissa is a bit strange. They race to the lab. John compares his own blood to the Hemocyanin sample. They are the same. John deduces Anthony, his brother, is John's hybridised clone. They decide to leave upon hearing Anthony's screams.
Baxter goes to get the car. Anthony appears tentacles first and stops him by flipping the car.
Hart wakes up and escapes from the hospital, stealing an ambulance.
Melissa holds everyone up at harpoon point, insisting they capture Anthony for Dr Lloyd. She fills them in about her hemocyanin induced illness, explaining that Dr lloyd was the only person who has tried treat her. Anthony smashes the window and tries to pull Melissa out the window. They fight him off and rescue Melissa. She writhes in agony on the floor and tells John where the Anthony journals are. Melissa transforms, mutating into a fishlike being on the floor in front of them, gills flapping until she falls silent.
A tentacle surges into the room from the laundry shoot grabs Baxter. The group fight it off and move Baxter to safety.
Downstairs, John and Sharon attempt to barricade doors. The floorboards creak and give way, Sharon falls through the floor into the flooded and filthy basement. The others come running and they try to haul her up with a rope. close to the top, her grip slips. John is lowered down to join her.
Anthony, rears up, a fully grown version of the little guys we've seen thus far, John shoots him with the harpoon gun and he and Sharon escape. Anthony dives back into the filth as John and Sharon pick their way through the spaces under the house.
Up top, the floor collapses further and Cindy falls down into the basement and meets Anthony.
John and Sharon climb up the laundry shoot.
Anthony comes up through the floor and attacks Hart and Baxter.
John puts on the lullaby and Anthony withdraws. Sharon is left to keep it running.
The three gents plan to electrocute Anthony. Dr Lloyd turns up and holds John at harpoon point, preventing the three men from setting up their plan to electrocute Anthony.
Lloyd delivers the best, if not cliche'd dialogue in the film - "It's part of your heart, part of your mind, part of your soul. He's part of your imagination, you understand!?"
In this time Hart and Baxter manage to get the power hooked up while Anthony chews at electric cables they have thrown at him.
John shouts 'Fry the son of a bitch!" Baxter throws the switch.
Anthony exploding has some fun squishy effects and slurping sounds as Anthony breaks down, taking on a more human form. He takes Lloyd with him down into the basement, hosing the surroundings with goop.
In the morning, Baxter goes back down to fetch the last of the journals from the laundry room, he discovers a hive of the juvenile hybrids down there.
One burst up from the sink and attacks Sharon. John kills it.
They swarm on Baxter, who stumbles away and discovers propane tanks. He searches for matches. finds gunpowder and leaves a trail back to a safe distance. He uses his last cigarette as a fuse.
Cindy clambers back out of the basement and is helped up by Hart. John has run back to find them and Baxter catches up and tells them to get out.
They all escape the house just before it bursts into flame. They get away in the ambulance as all the infant hybrid clones of Anthony roast in the flames.
The great bits in this film, for me at least, are the creature effects. While not anywhere near Rob Bottin / 'The Thing,' level, they're still pretty damn fine! Plenty of silly creature puppets, tentacles, squishy/drippy looking bits and prosthetics. The story takes a bit of concentration to keep up with and the characters are not hugely developed, but a fair amount happens over the course of the film in terms of plot development. I still think it's all pretty well executed and sits strongly with other other sci-fi horror films of a similar production quality from the time, such as 'Humanoids From The Deep' (1980) and 'Scared To Death' (1980) and 'Parasite' (1982.)
I can't think of too many films along these lines that deal with genetic experiments and have a good level of splatty effects. Evidently some of David Cronenberg's films, but they have their own rarified status, which is hard to put other offerings alongside. I obviously like this film a fair bit, definitely give it a watch if you can hunt it down!
*[Info geek bit: Hemocyanin is an oxygen carrying protein, performing a similar function to haemoglobin, but found in Molluscs and Arthropods. The active oxygen transport function is fulfilled by copper, as opposed to iron in haemoglobin. When oxygenated, it turns blue - so blue blood. Horseshoe Crab blood is used frequently in scientific testing of vaccines and has the distinctive bright blue colour. The blood of the Horseshoe crab is harvested, taking about 1/3, then they are released into the wild. Kinda a pretty raw deal, being abducted, subjected to a vampiric science experiment then bunged back into the ocean without even a cup of tea. Speciesism based ethics aside, countless human lives are saved due to the use of their blue coloured blood.]
**Amanda Pays, also in Leviathan (1989) which had a similar nautical genetic experiment theme, but on a way higher budget.