Posts Tagged ‘Denholm Elliot’

Transmutations was written by Clive Barker, and that’s fairly surprising considering how terrible the plot is, along with the very poor characterizations of almost every single player in the film. But this is not the only time someone butchers Barker’s stories. Remember “Rawhead Rex“? Yeesh!

Mutant NinjasMutant ninjas

As introduction to what we might expect from this movie we see some sort of ninja-resembling characters running around  in hurry at night without any particular goal. Later, on a closer look, it turns out that they are just an ordinary people with duct tape tied around their heads. Urgh…bear it with me. Duct tape people then, accompanied with couple of freaks, crash in some high class orgies and from there they kidnap high class hooker Nicole (played by Nicola Cowper) who was laying in her bed dressed in curtain. Oh yeah, and they had butler beaten up. Nice start!

Sid ViciousSid Vicious as albino man-ape

When you are short of one hooker what do you do? You hire a detective. So Roy Bain (played by Larry Lamb) is called in to investigate a case of a missing hooker by rich businessman Motherskille (played by Steven Berkoff). Why him? Well we can just assume that Bain has had connections with Motherskille and Nicole in the past; the film does a particularly poor job of giving the viewer any sort of back-story towards the beginning, and after the plot has begun to meander, it really makes no difference anymore. All we know about him is that he is the usual arrogant self-employed detective cum painter, and he performs his duties with a reticence that might not really be acting at all, but instead Lamb’s hesitance to star in this movie at all. Anyway, after a bit of convincing by Motherskille, he decides to accept the case. He went to the crime scene where he talked to Madam Pepperdine (played by Ingrid Pitt) and another hooker Bianca (played by Irina Brook). Apart of Pepperdine’s teasing her butler Ricardo (played by an established actor Trevor Thomas) by saying that the only thing that got hurt was his pride (despite the fact that the poor fellow’s neck was almost broken), Bain didn’t get much information out of her. But he did find a lead – a bottle of some drug under Nicole’s pillow. When he pressed Bianca about it she told him that he should check it with Dr Savary, whom Nicole used to visit often. On his way back he meets Darling (played by Brian Croucher), a GUY who was sent by…someone…to look after him (I certainly wouldn’t want someone named Darling to watch my back) .Darling tells Bain that Motherskille and Savary are together into business with strange drug. But what kind of drug? We’ll find out soon.

He has a golden heartHe has a golden heart

After being scanned with futuristic metal detector you can see on the picture above, Bain meets with Dr Savary (played by Denholm Elliot) and confronts him about drug. Doctor didn’t let himself crack under the sarcasm and irritation Bain evokes at all times and he denied any knowledge of such substance. But Bain took an opportunity while Savary was briefly outside the office to take a look around. He finds a key and strangely shaped figurines. This is the point when viewers should start connecting some of a strings in the plot but I doubt that any of us could do such thing, given so little info about everything. Anyway, Savary is back and kicks out detective as politely as he could. Meanwhile, freaks somewhere conduct experiments on Nicole. They are giving her the same
substance Bain found at her room. Apparently, according to freak doctor Nygaard (played by Paul Brown), she is immune to dreams which drug should cause. Nicole wakes up disoriented and starts asking questions. To calm her and show they mean no harm (apart of poking and probing her), freaks, who happens to be very nice and polite, introduce themselves. Besides Nygaard there are also Oriel (played by Miranda Richardson) and Dudu (played by Paul Mari), who enjoyed sniffing her hair and is very proud of his nickname Shitface. Another freak storms in and explains that he had lost two men (men? hm) while breaking in to Savary’s office. It turns out that freaks need regular doses of drug in order to…I don’t know what. And by lost he meant it literally since one of them called Red Dog (played by Gary Olsen) was taken over by dreams and gone wild. Still no idea what kind of dreams those are. Anyway, Red Dog seems to have a crush on Bianca and gets infuriated after he finds her in Bain’s bed. Battle commences consisted of shooting, wrestling, balls grabbing and similar gay techniques followed with Bain chasing Red Dog throw the dark alley. Bain finds freak laying on the ground but to his surprise another freak shows up and drags Red Dog to sewers. Could it be some new race of C.H.U.D.? Everything is possible with script writer like this.

Clive Barker approves thisClive Barker approves this

We are now at night club watching a gay performance. Bain there finds Motherskille enjoying the show with his retarded thugs and presses him about the drug. Motherskille at first wouldn’t admit anything (he was even swearing on life of his children), but after some police brutality he had no other option than to admit he occasionally manufactures things for Savary (though, he still denies any knowledge about the drug). So back to Savary it seems. Bain sneaks into doctor’s office and finds a tape with the test subject. As it always happens to be our hero gets captured by Savary when he was about to unfold the mystery. But wait, more of clichés are incoming! While holding Bain at point of his gun, Savary decides to do what every criminal mastermind does in that situation –
reveal everything. Apparently, the drug in question is euphoric, an powerfully hallucinogenic and painkiller, which gives a feats of strength to it’s users. And like every other drug it is addictive. The only side effect is that it turns humans into mutants. Hm, didn’t see that one coming from the first moment Motherskille hired Bain… Anyway, you can’t expect that a main charracter gets killed when he is about to solve a mystery, so Bain somehow manages to trick Savary and escape his office.


Bain decides to get to the bottom of problem. He enters sewers and there he finds mutants’ secret headquarters. Just like that! And Nicole, who tells him that this is now her home and mutants are her friends (despite the fact that she is immune to the side effects). They leave him tied just to be found by one of Motherskille’s crooks, a guy who wears ridiculous sunglasses throughout the entire film. He takes a bit of his time from the mission to kill all of the freaks just to inject drug into Bain. Could this be the end of our hero detective?

A happy bunchA happy bunch

Killing a bunch of mutated freaks turned out not to be an easy task. Led by Nicole they manage to capture Savary and right when they were about to make doctor tastes his own medicine (oh how poetic), Motherskille shows up with his goons and another shooting takes a place. Obviously he wants the entire place wiped out, including mutants. Why? Well here is how I see the plot at this point: Motherskille hired Bain to find Nicole, for whom he already presumed has become a mutant. He sends someone to follow Bain. Why? Because when Bain finds Nicole that means he will also find so-called Underworld, a place where all failed experiments reside, which he seeks to destroy. And for what reason? I guess to wipe out any remaining traces that could lead to his connection with drug. Keep in mind that I am writing this using a logic since film itself doesn’t give any background story nor the explanation. Ok, now we are back to movie. While I was bringing out my thoughts, Motherskille lost his own in shooting duel with Bain. Still, the final confrontation is between Nicole and Savary , where she uses her newfound superpowers (?) to burn mannequin dressed as an evil doctor. At the very end, she announces that it is not over yet (we certainly hope it is) and walks away with the only surviving mutant Dudu, thus leaving Bain with dumb xpression on his face.


Conclusion: The script is quite bad, but it’s managed fairly well by the actors, who do the best with what they have. Fortunately, most of the actors are very good, and that means that Transmutations is at least watchable. It’s following the storyline that becomes the killer here, because it’s a horrible maze of characters switching back and forth between good and bad guys while Bain tries to tell the difference. The story is simply a mess of ideas that do very little of anything, and not even the dark wave, saxophone-riddle soundtrack can make this film any more interesting. Nicole’s role as the damsel in distress is both boring and generic. There are some other characters who are supposed to be more important, like Motherskille (how can that name not cause you to foreshadow his role as supreme villain?) and his  crooks. Transmutations even makes note of the terrible character writing by referring to one of the goons as a parrot; it’s a generous compliment. As for the mutants, at first, the viewer might question why the “monsters” of Transmutations aren’t really that scary. Sure, they growl a lot, and some have glowing eyes while others get bulbous growths on their faces, but there’s nothing about them that seems overtly threatening. See, it’s fine and good if Transmutations wants the monsters to be misunderstood. It often works for films of this nature. But not when the movie spends little time with them, and barely tries to develop them beyond their physical characteristics alone. This film wasn’t easy to find and maybe that’s a good thing, because a film this bad will die out without its lifeblood – the audience. The movie isn’t an evolution of the horror genre, but a mutant that is doomed to die off because of its fatal errors.