Film Review: Repligator (1996)

SYNOPSIS:

At a top secret military research facility scientists working on rival projects find that their work, when combined, turns soldiers first into sex-mad women and then into walking alligators.

REVIEW:

An ultra-low budget sci-fi comedy this cheerfully inept movie makes a virtue of its trashiness by setting its standards incredibly low and whenever the plot, such as it is, begins to flag throws in some gratuitous nudity to keep your attention. Featuring a couple of trash movie icons in Gunnar Hansen and Brinke Stevens, it’s performed with enthusiasm rather than skill and as such comes across as the kind of film Edward D. Wood Jr would be making if he was around today.

Stevens plays sexy scientist Dr Goodbody who is conducting research into a new technique called the Sexual Hologram Interface Terminal, or S.H.I.T. for short; yep, that’s the level of humour we’re talking about here. In a short opening sequence we see her testing S.H.I.T. on hapless grunt Private Libo (James Bock); the purpose of this new piece of kit isn’t very clear but it allows the subject’s libido to be represented visually. Naturally, Libo’s test reveals the mucky thoughts he’s having about Dr Goodbody.

Meanwhile, at an unnamed secret military base, Colonel Sanders (Carl Merritt) is on the warpath and gunning for scientist Dr Kildare (Gunnar Hansen). News of Kildare’s pet project has been leaked to the press who are running with a headline story claiming that the US military is being infiltrated by transsexuals. Sanders wants answers and Kildare provides them, via a lengthy flashback which forms the main section of the movie.

It turns out that the snafu concerns the Replicator project, run by Dr Oliver (co-writer Keith Kjornes) and overseen by Colonel Sargeant (Rocky Patterson). Sargeant and boss General Mills (Alan York) have arrived to witness a demonstration of Replicator, to which Oliver’s bitter rival Dr Fields (Randy Clower) has managed to invite himself. The purpose of Repligator is to teleport soldiers from one place to another, thus giving the US Army a huge advantage on the battlefield; the demonstration is a complete success, aside from the fact that the volunteer soldier changes sex during the teleportation, emerging as a nymphomaniac bimbo in battle fatigues.

Now if you find this slight premise funny, as the film-makers clearly do, then you’re in for a treat; if not, then it’s going to be a long haul. However, halfway through even the film-makers realise this is not a sufficiently strong hook on which to hang a 90-minute movie and introduce another element: after the sex-changees have sex they inexplicably turn into ravenous walking alligators. Aware that even this insane plot twist might not be enough, there’s a third sub-plot that is never properly developed which concerns what appears to be a homosexual zombie.
It’s all as ridiculous as it sounds and risibly poor on a technical level.

That said the script is better than you’d expect and does manage to raise the occasional groan of laughter. The cast don’t appear have to received much in the way of direction and compensate by overacting wildly but they do it with such enthusiasm, especially the guys, that it’s difficult not to find it endearing. And why wouldn’t the guys be enthusiastic: they spend most of the film being groped by topless women.

So pretty crude then overall but surprisingly inoffensive mainly, I suspect, because it’s so daft and ramshackle. For example, when Colonel Sanders marches into Dr Kildare’s lab brandishing a newspaper, the headlines that he finds so outrageous have quite clearly been cut from a sheet of printed paper and pasted onto a dummy newspaper. But in the end it’s only those with the stoniest of hearts who will not warm to a film which features as its monster something called Gatorbabe – a transsexual soldier wearing a fake plastic alligator head.

Repligator (1996)

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