Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

The Terror Experiment

By Steve Anderson
August
1st, 2012

The Terror ExperimentThe Terror Experiment
**
DVD
Directed by George Mendeluk
Written by D. Todd Deeken
Starring Lochlyn Munro, Robert Carradine, C. Thomas Howell, Judd Nelson
R
78 mins
2012

Found something a little unusual for you this time around, folks--a little slice of Anchor Bay joy called The Terror Experiment. Sounds like fun, and though you might be drawn in by that impressive box art that makes this look like a sweet shot of post-apocalyptia, what you'll get may not be what you had in mind.

The Terror Experiment follows a veteran who's been pushed just a little too far by life in general, and somehow manages to get his hands on a vial of biological weapon. He detonates said weapon inside a federal building, which in turn goes to fuel his plans to unveil a secret government project in which a toxic gas acts upon the adrenaline system of humans, ramping them up into violent, vicious, nigh-unstoppable killing machines. The building is quickly sealed off as the desperate government tries to keep its newest horror under wraps, but a small group of uninfected survivors is hiding out in the upper floors of the building. Can this group manage to survive the terror experiment and escape? Or will they fall prey to the amped-up monsters that were formerly human beings below them? Or...will they fall prey to a government that would sooner see them dead than their secret escape?

A nice little slice of paranoia for those who think the government has something against them, or those who like a surprisingly plausible slice of the end of the world. The comparisons to this and 28 Days / Weeks Later will be inevitable, and yet at the same time, The Terror Experiment actually does a better job on some levels than 28 Days / Weeks Later ever did. See, the thing about the 28s is that the whole "Rage Virus" thing wasn't really clear about what the hell it actually did. At least not that I remember, anyway--admittedly, it's been a while--but in The Terror Experiment, they actually pin it down, and this clarity lets it ring a little more credibly. See, The Terror Experiment specifically deals with ramping up the adrenal glands, and adrenaline production in general, to the point where human reason just isn't a factor. I'm no doctor, but that sure makes sense. That making sense gives the proceedings an extra punch. Plausibility makes everything a little scarier, and in this case, the Terror Experiment has plausibility and to spare.

Given that much of the action, however, goes on inside that federal building, it's not exactly the most effective shot of post-apocalyptia you get. I'm impressed by the use of Romero Standard rules--a bullet to the head puts them down--but still, it's a little too limited in scope to be all that good. It's on par with Rec, but not quite as exciting.

The ending is a little wonky--the infected security guard on the second floor is clearly armed with an Action Hero De-Luxe rifle as it seems to have unlimited ammo--but aside from that, it's reasonable enough.

The special features are limited to a director's commentary track and your choice of English or Spanish subtitles.

All in all, not bad. The Terror Experiment won't be anyone's idea of great filmmaking but for a reasonably satisfying romp through post-apocalyptia it will serve. Anchor Bay's serving up a fine example of meatloaf movie-making, and it'll go down smooth if unremarkable.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line. 

Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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