Miami Golem

February 27th, 2010 by Vomitron

Miami Golem   Miami Golem vhs art 73x120 sci fi reviews horror action Director: Alberto De Martino (as Herbert Martin)
Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino and Alberto De Martino
Release year:

Quite an amazing piece of utter nonsense

Reporter Graig Milford (David Warbeck) has seen it all… Vietnam war crimes, cannibal tribes, political shenanigans and what not else. It’s all fine by him and nowadays he’s comfortable working for television in Miami. After interviewing Dr. Schweiker ‘The Nazi’ (Sergio Rossi) about a scientific breakthrough, involving the solution to a puzzling enigma of genetic engeneering, he gets permission to hang around the lab to shoot some additional footage of the newly bred organism. Milford doesn’t mind, so hanging around the lab is what he does. But an accidental electrocution causes the tiny organism – which looks like strawberry-flavored jelly pudding sprinkled with bits of puke – to die… briefly, as it comes back to life seconds later. But then, suddenly, the room is filled with ghostly imagery and eerie moaning sounds. What the hell? Luckily, Milford still had his camera rolling…

(Mild spoilers may follow… I think…)

Miami Golem   Miami Golem title 300x229 sci fi reviews horror action

Awesome movie title.


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I report, not like I care.

Miami Golem is technically inept, poorly acted, wildly incoherent and basically has a narrative rigged together with complete nonsense. Writer/director Alberto De Martino once again mixes a great amount of crazy ideas into a blender, resulting in a film of which the makers probably weren’t all that sure themselves of what the outcome might be. So surely, Miami Golem fails in whatever it tried to do, but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t one of the most fascinating Italian mixtures of intriguing drivel I have seen so far. It would be futile to try and sum up the plot in just a couple of lines – it’s far too much ‘out there’ to even attempt this – so I’ll stick to summing up some elements that reminded me about other, previously made films. Why ‘previously made films’? Well, the Italians owe that to themselves. It has become alsmost like a game to me now, every time I discover another Italian 80′s genre gem, to try and find elements from better (American) films that might have served as an example. But I have to admit, with Miami Golem, this was not an easy task. It does feel like a pretty unique cheese fest of terror, really, and even if it’s a fairly giant failure, you just gotta love its weird, original ways. Right, so here goes…

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I was a jelly bean. Now I am evil.

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Ghosthand Killah, grabbin' yer soul!

Miami Golem flirts with registering supernatural & ghostly phenomena vaguely reminiscing films like Tobe Hooper‘s Poltergeist (1982) and Richard Fleischer‘s Amityville 3-D (1983). It mixes up telekinesis & mind control that remotely echo the ways of Brian De Palma‘s The Fury (1978) – though never in the same bloody fashion, so don’t get your hopes up – or you could just call them Jedi mind-tricks, as they usually boil down to something along the lines of ‘These are not the droids you’re looking for’, making people say or do things they’re not aware of. Mainly, the film is about alien encounters, both malignant and benign, and with more than a bit of stretch you could draw the line to Steven Spielberg‘s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) – however, Miami Golem is absolutely not about little grey men coming to say hello.  More obviously, the influence of John Carpenter‘s Starman (1984) can be felt. The only thing that – supposedly – can destroy the alien golem, is a type of corrosive liquid bio-organism that has the exact same effect as the blood of the aliens from Ridley Scott‘s Alien (1979). And it doesn’t end there, in fact, it all begins with ripping off Harold Faltermeyer‘s theme from Beverly Hills Cop (1984) during the opening credits. To wrap it up, just throw in a bit of your typical regular Italian action bits, like car chases, a ‘helicopter vs schoolbus’ shoot-out (an empty schoolbus, by the way, driven by two Afro-Americans – yes, where did those two get a hold of it, you might wonder… they stole it in the suburbs?) and even an airboat chase on the waters of the Everglades. All stuff American actioners love to do too, of course. Oh, hang on there, I almost forgot that verbal inside joke about Ivan Reitman‘s Ghostbusters (1984), not all that of a surprise when referring back to the ‘supernatural & ghostly phenomena’ I started the names dropping with. And if you expect Miami Golem to be of the same quality as all films mentioned above, you are absolutely getting the wrong idea.

Miami Golem   Miami Golem schoolbus  300x232 sci fi reviews horror action

Stop, damnit!

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Feel the wind, baby!

Alberto De Martino tried to serve us a complex film, and practically succeeds in this for about 45 minutes. The baffling plot incorporates vague theories & speculations about spiritualism, hallucinations, paranormal activity, the ghosts of collective fears, materializations of nightmares, dimensional aspects of the universe, the sunken island of Atlantis, the Etruscan era and crop circles. Honestly, I am not making this up and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few. Of course I’m talking about mere mentionings mostly and none if this all really leads to anything. Still, you probably won’t believe what you’re hearing, I can tell you that much. But then, 45 minutes into the movie, we get the whole mystery explained already, and after that the film becomes more & more incoherent and turns into a complete mess near the end. But it’s a damned enjoyable mess! Especially the climactic battle between Milford and the Golem, the alien fetus in a jar, is a wonderful showdown.  Milford goes flying through the air and banging up against walls left & right by the telekinetic powers of Golem, while he tries to get close to the little deformity with the one weapon that can kill it, thereby aided by a distant female called Joanna – his, uhm, good alien love interest – who uses her psychokinetic abilities to try and keep evil Golem in check. Yes, it gets messy. Ridiculously messy.

Miami Golem   Miami Golem crop circle 300x229 sci fi reviews horror action

Who messed up my lawn?

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What was I reading again?

Veteran actor John Ireland looks determined enough as the villain, but he really doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing and it just doesn’t feel like he’s on top of his game. Or maybe that was just old age. He plays Mr. Anderson, from what I could tell a criminal mastermind with connections in Washington, for he managed to steal the jelly bean alien golem out of Schweiker’s laboratory and plots to rule the world with it. How exactly he thinks he can manage to accomplish that, really is beyond me. Anderson is mostly seen looking at a monitor, thinking things like “Good, it’s growing”, while his hired scientist is babbling scientific gibberish. He plans to impose his will on the alien golem, but don’t ask me why he’s so convinced he can pull that one off. The golem fetus has mind control power and Anderson doesn’t, so he clearly has not the slightest idea of what he got in that damned jar down in his lab. Perhaps he thinks he can ask fetus Golem nicely to help him go for world domination? Sure, that might work.

Miami Golem   Miami Golem ireland car 300x230 sci fi reviews horror action

Stop the car. I'm too old to be in this movie.

Miami Golem   Miami Golem laura car 300x231 sci fi reviews horror action

I look good without a bra.

Joanna Fitzgerald – who’s introduced to us as a female jogger, and that’s about all we ever learn about her real life occupation, aside from the fact that she could be and probably was an alien astral projection using the real Laura Trotter’s body to materialize itself; I couldn’t quite fathom that part myself, but regardless, her body looked fine – is played by Laura Trotter, who teams up with David Warbeck early in the film, tries to act all mysteriously but obviously just wants a decent shag from Warbeck… no, I’m not talking about tobacco, I meant sexual intercourse. She didn’t really strike me as the most talented actress ever (far from, if you didn’t catch my drift), but she does provide some unbelievably gratuitous full frontal nudity in this film (and like if one shower scene wasn’t enough, then wait until you can see her wearing a white robe – nothing more than a robe, that is – and she decides to sit down, spreading her thighs just a bit further than she should have…). One more thing I learned from her & Warbeck‘s interactions… The fastest way to get a girl in the sack, combines only three things: some gentle philosophical ponderings, soft saxophone backgound music and a little bit of Scotch. Gets the job done in no time. And the girl hot before you know it.

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I'm not wearing any panties, haha!

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Me? You gotta be kidding.

David Warbeck, as reporter Graig Milford, is without a doubt the biggest triumph in the cast. And I don’t necessarily mean that in the best of ways. You can practically see him falling in and out of character about every ten minutes or so. For the most part he just walks around like everything’s perfectly peachy and he doesn’t seem to mind any of the strange occurences, let alone the world and life as we know it possibly coming to an end. In one scene, a friendly alien force informs him that he has to save mankind. Milford’s obvious ignorant answer is “Why me?”. I do like a man who thinks rationally, but a lack of enthusiasm can only be tolerated to a certain degree. The friendly alien force pretty much felt the same way about it, so they had to encourage him some more. When Warbeck isn’t casually strolling through this movie, you can see him shooting guns, kicking people and simply being in agony as if his life depended on it. If he himself had no understanding of how to portray his character (a plain reporter, basically), then surely Alberto De Martino forgot to give him any directorial guidelines whatsoever. Well, other than “You’re doing great, David!“, I imagine.

Miami Golem   Miami Golem warbeck agony 300x230 sci fi reviews horror action

Ah! The agony!

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One last guy I really need to mention, is Sergio Stivaletti. I don’t care which great or rubbbish films he might have worked on, whenever I see his name pop up in the opening credits, I get all excited. You know, like a little kid around Christmas time. His special effects for Miami Golem aren’t exactly amongst the best of his work, but they still have their usual charm. Granted, the ghostly imagery at the beginning are close to a laugh riot and that leaves us basically with the alien golem, which resembles a fetus version of a cross between the mutant killer baby from Larry Cohen‘s It’s Alive (1974) and the creep-o-baby from David DeCoteau‘s Creepozoids (1987). Yes, go figure, but still some neat animatronic puppeteering from Mr. Stivaletti here. The test with the highly corrosive alien deoxyribonucleic acid – that can only be stopped by a crystal compound enriched with isotopes – on an animal carcass makes up for a fine sequence as well. Just thought I’d mention that.

Miami Golem   Miami Golem fetus eyes 300x230 sci fi reviews horror action

Oh! They want to kill me!

Miami Golem   Miami Golem carcass test 300x230 sci fi reviews horror action

Ow! I just corroded a carcass...

The title itself, Miami Golem, aside from an obvious spin on Miami Vice, is just like the movie: it’s cool & weird sounding, doesn’t really seem to make a lick of sense, but it still can be linked to events in the film (just like its many ideas can be linked together without proper coherence). Due to the various interpretations of the word ‘golem’ (from ancient Hebrew legends to contemporary fairy tales), you can pretty easily place it in the context of this film. Through means of alchemism – modern day science in this case – a fetus-like creature gets created from raw fossilic materials found in a meteorite that once crashed into the earth. In this film, it just happens to grow into a most malevolent alien entity – though still remaining a fetus – formerly part of a horde that once dominated space. All this happening somewhere in… Miami, of course. Like I said before, it’s all more than just a bit of a stretch. Aside from all this, the title is cleverly chosen, as it can be easily marketed around the globe without the need for an aka-title. Both ‘miami’ and ‘golem’ are words with a pretty universal ring to it. Just like ‘taxi’ and ‘radio’; everybody knows them (thank you for that one, Mr. Michael Franti). So at least those Italians got that part right. Too bad Miami Golem turned out such a clumsy affair nobody wanted to see it.

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I shoot, not like I report.

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Every good movie has a car explosion.

But never mind my complaints. If you’re into strangely bizarre Italian crossbreed genre cinema, then you should be interested in checking out Miami Golem at some point. It’s bonkers enough to entertain. Just one or two more Alberto De Martino films of this caliber, and I can safely say he belongs up there with other favorites of mine like Antonio Margheriti and Sergio Martino. Other films from Alberto like The Antichrist (1974) – a blatant The Exorcist (1973) rip-off – and the violent crime thriller A Special Magnum For Tony Saitta (1976) – it even has Giallo touches and a genuine carsploitation sequence – I can already heartily recommend (to those who know what they’re looking for). Coming up next, is Holocaust 2000 (1977, starring Kirk Douglas, no less). Looking forward to it.


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Sorry folks, no trailer, but…

Click play to hear composer Detto Mariano ripping off Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F. Theme” from Beverly Hills Cop!

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Vintage Belgian VHS cover art!


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Hope that was fun.


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