Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Title With a Z, Just Cause the World Needs More

We all have some form of personal responsibility, something we take good care of and touch with carefully sanitized hands. Gardens. Cars. Book collections. While my desk is messier than a Double Dare game floor, my Netflix Queue is just about the most impeccable virtual list you’ve ever not seen. I always know my top 5 order and am quick to transfer any Instant Watch to its other queue. Never once have I opened my mail to a question mark.
Until last week, when I discovered a copy of Organizm in my hands. The premise sounded like something I’d watch: a deadly life form threatens to destroy Earth!--but I had no memory of adding it to my queue, especially when I discovered this was a made-for-SyFy Channel original.
Worst of all, in researching Organizm (i.e., reading the Netflix page), I discovered this film was now streaming on Instant Watch, meaning watching this movie cost three more days of delay when I could have been enjoying Up In the Air or something sure to be amazing called Blood Dolls.
My mood was not good.
Quick Plot: In a promising prologue, a young boy is given some Very Important Instructions from his loopy mother, who then proceeds to shoot his father in a laughably awful CGI effect. 

Flash forward some years where our moppet has grown into biology teacher Frank Sears (Johnathon Schaech) with mysterious scars, now driving full speed to a military base to offer some frantic warning. There he meets hazmat specialist soldier Carrie Freeborn (mini scream queen Erica Leerhsen) and her husband, the wheelchair-bound Glenn (Jason Wiles, who will forever be known to me as the artist who got Kelly hooked on cocaine in Beverly Hills 90210). Despite his pleas, the couple send some bubble wrapped scientists underground to investigate an abandoned research facility where a sealed band of dead brainiacs has been rotting for a few decades.

Turns out, there’s some sort of parasitic CGI-powered life form itching to feed on light, crawl over screaming extras, and turn the world into a computer generated Living Hell (it’s alternate title, IMDB trivia-explained as being what a test audience member described the viewing experience to be; I am dubious). The townspeople are represented by a cute but rather terrible child actress and her kindly Native American grandfather, while the military industrial complex wears the stern face of James McDaniel. 
As you can expect, the authorities make silly pigheaded decisions and our attractive leads act heroically. 
Organizm probably wasn’t made with high ambitions, although its helmer (Richard Jefferies) is responsible for one of my favorite underseen ‘80s meanies, Scarecrows. There’s nothing horrifying about the film, which is probably more to do with the filmmaking restrictions of crafting a quickie for a two-hour timeblock timed for commercials advertising Scare Tactics. The concept has some juice to it and anything somewhat Blob-related works to a certain extent, but the film doesn’t ever exceed its expectations. It works for 90 minutes. Then ends. 

I don’t remember much else.

High Points
While there are plenty of misses (not missus) in the cast, the performances are overall strong enough in that the actors take their roles seriously
Low Points
Sorry, Day of the Dead '08 :  It appears you’ve lost the one superlative you wore so well: Organizm takes the crown for Worst CGI Gunshot To the Head of all time
Lessons Learned
It’s okay to let a man rub blood all over your naked body if your husband died thirteen hours earlier, providing there’s a heavy soundtrack of Native American chanting to make the mood classy

Always know where to find a projector
Never underestimate the importance of upper arm strength, particularly if you don’t otherwise possess any movement in your lower half
Well don’t rent it, since any Netflix subscriber can see the film on Instant Watch and SyFy recerivers will probably catch it (sans one awkward moment of nudity) on a Sunday marathon. As far as made-for-cable obscurity or European television market thrillers go, Organizm is just fine. The acting is believable enough, the biology sound (to my 9th grade A- grade experience) and save for the typical SyFy CGI, some of the effects are decent. I doubt I’ll ever seek out Organizm for a second viewing but those fans of science-y time fillers shouldn’t hate me too much if I suggest not switching the channel if nothing else is on. Nothing special, but acceptable for those with a particular computer flavored taste.


  1. When you say she's a mini-scream queen, do you mean her popularity is small or she's a wee person?

  2. Dah! That would be the minor popularity option, although I should have been clearer, especially considering my penchant for movies starring little people. I will, from this point on, separate them as "Scream Princesses" and "Scream Queenettes"

  3. I knew what you meant, but I was really hoping she was Scream Queen of Less-than-average-height. I'm all for diversity in Scream Queen tallness.

  4. As someone who dreams of one day officially being 5'2, I heartily concur. I suppose Sarah Michelle Gellar brought something to the vertically challenged females, but I think she mostly just seemed really short because all the men Buffy dated were towering beefcakes.

  5. This one actually made it on to a semi-recent horror hangover under the Living Hell alternative title. So it does make it's rounds on Sunday afternoon SyFy sleaze every once in a while. I thought it was funny, but sucky that you got this in the mail, knowing it has been on instant watch for some time. I probably would have sent it right back just to fast track my next film!

  6. Believe me, I considered mailing the film back but then it would have felt like a whole mailing day was lost. The weird thing was, I didn't even remember ever adding it! I imagine it was one of those "You might also like..." options that was too persistent to turn down, or maybe I had at one point invested energy into tracking down other stuff by the Scarecrows writer. Sigh. It's the perfect Horror Hangover film (although the title 'Living Hell' is extremely misleading and has absolutely nothing to do with the film) but not one I would have put anywhere near the top of my queue.

  7. Ha, I've been bullied by Netflix to add movies after they suggest them to me 500 times too!

  8. It just feels like they're trying so gosh darn hard.